Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Learning is fun

Its my final semester as an undergraduate...scary, no?  Its really awesome, and easy, and relaxing...mostly.  But scary at the same time.

I have 12 hours this semester, the minimum allowed to maintain my full-time student status.  These 12 hours breakdown into the following:

Wilderness First Aid (1 hour)
GIS: Advanced Spatial Analysis (3 hours)
Animal Behavior (4 hours + lab)
Honors Investigation & Thesis (4 hours)

The WFA class will be a GREAT certification to have under my belt.  I chose it because it will, obviously, be helpful to my future outdoors jobs and such pursuits, BUT, I also chose it because it was a 1 hour course that was SHORT.  Short as in two days short.  So after this weekend, I will be done with that class!  Sweet, no?

Thesis course is so I can (hopefully) graduate with honors in Biology.  My project is "Using GIS to model black bear denning habitat".  I've got all the raw data, locations of dens and stats on bears that were radio collared for the last 10 years.  My job, is to input all this data into ArcGIS, an advanced cartography program.  This will allow me to analyze the locations of the dens in relation to, well, MANY things (i.e. slope, aspect, elevation, vegetation, distance to water sources/roads/civilization/etc., age/size of bear, # cubs, public vs. private land).  The results I obtain from all this will hopefully aid in land management to better provide high quality land for the bear's denning needs.  As well, I hope to get my results published in a wildlife journal of some sort.  Getting published as an undergrad would be BEYOND amazing.  My only worry with all of my research is that because I wasn't the one to physically collect all the raw data.  Its more of a wildlife-based project, and its for my biology degree.  I just can't be certain how nit-picky my board of advisors will be when I present my work.  Biology, the study of life, right?  Problem is, WVU's biology department is more molecular & plant sciences based.  Granted, there are some animal behavior/ethology courses, but this doesn't involve any of the aforementioned.  However, I will be utilizing the valuable statistical skills I learned from my biometry course, the scientific method I gained from all biology labs, and aiding in the understanding of why bears den in certain areas.  Biology enough?  I hope.

The other two courses are regular go-to-class courses.  Mondays I have a 9:30-10:45a, and a 2-5p; Wednesdays and Fridays I'm done by 11a; Tuesdays and Thursdays I have NOTHING.  Sweet, blissful nothing.  More time to work on my thesis, I suppose.  Ah well, eventually.

This past weekend was PHENOMENAL.  Powder filled skiing at Canaan Valley Resort with my boy and the Ski Patrol.  FREE skiing.  It was so, so, so awesome.  I got some free ski lessons from the patrol guys (as I haven't had a formal lesson on anything in 15 years) and I got to bomb down some great runs all over the mountain.  I'm definitely going to go through the hoops over the next year to become a patroller.  Free/discounted skiing at resorts all over the country?  I think so!  (Even if red isn't really my color...)

So here's to more snow, more skiing, and more learning.  I hope you and yours have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. I have never been snow skiing or snow anything, but rumor has it Disney is adding a ski resort to their Vacation Club options somewhere and I hope it's true! Then I'd have lodging paid for already! I hope your semester goes great! The last one (for now)!