The Department of Environmental Science and Ecology offers many field-based courses where students gain hands-on field experience. Class field trips often explore local places such as Mendon Ponds Park, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Ontario, and many more. Below are a few examples of the courses and locations our students visit.

Four students at a creek smiling

Environmental Science

The environmental science lab conducts aquatic macroinvertebrate surveys in Sandy Creek. Students often find crayfish, mayflies, and stoneflies, to name a few.

Two students measuring the circumference of a tree


Students in ecology visit Northampton Park, where they gain experience measuring species diversity and carbon storage in forest plots. The goal of this lab is to determine whether a more diverse forest is more productive (i.e., stores more carbon) than a forest with low species diversity.

Two students in water with nets catching fish

Fish Biology

Students in fish biology have the opportunity to experience boat and backpack electrofishing on Sandy Creek, where they witness the Chinook salmon spawning migration in full effect. Other species that the students have caught includes northern pike, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.

Two students looking at a plant outdoors

Plant Diversity

Students in plant diversity visit several local parks such as Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Black Creek Park, and Washington Grove to practice fall plant identification and learn demographic sampling methods.

Three students on a boat wearing life jackets


Limnology students take trips out on to Lake Ontario and the Erie Canal aboard the RV Madtom to sample and analyze the chemical properties of the water, and to collect zooplankton and phytoplankton samples.

Entire class of students at a trip to a nearby wetland

Wetland Ecology

Wetland ecology students visit many of the local wetlands, including Kennedy Bog at Mendon Ponds Park, Bergen Swamp, and coastal wetlands along Lake Ontario to learn about wetland function and values, as well as to develop their wetland plant identification skills.

Close up of a student holding a snake outdoors


In herpetology, students visit many of the local ‘hotspots’ to find reptiles and amphibians and gain experience with identification, proper handling techniques, and capture and census methods.