STEM Engaged Learning

Aquatic Ecology at Fresno State

At CSU Fresno, students in Dr. Steve Blumenshine's aquatic ecology course became familiar with the scope of aquatic ecology and mastered its basic facts, principles, and concepts through lecture and lab, but enhanced their classroom studies through service learning.

Students in Aquatic Ecology gained at least 15 hours of real-world experience in their field serving alongside professionals from federal and state government, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations, on issues of water quality and habitat restoration, including fish sampling, water testing, river restoration efforts and teaching aquatic ecology modules in local classrooms. For example, students placed at the USDA Water Management Research Lab, worked with water chemistry, toxicology and remediation to learn how USDA research helps improve agricultural productivity and sustainability, and reduce negative environmental impacts.

Fourth year Biology major and future high school Biology teacher, Deidre Bayne, has seen first-hand how service learning provides hands-on activities that enhance textbook material and would like to see it introduced at the high school level. According to Baine, "service learning is something that you can incorporate into the high school setting which will enable students to learn more and be able to interpret data by the time they reach college."

Baine and her group have been collecting water samples from a remote creek to fulfill their service-learning requisite. For all of them, this is the first time they have engaged in water testing or taken a service-learning course. One common sentiment shared is how their service-learning experience has opened the door to field work unavailable in other courses while also complementing the work they hope to be doing after graduation.

A Fresno State student monitors water quality.

Cottonwood Creek

One of many ways to monitor the environment

Fresno State students study the impact of cattle on water quality.

Fresno State students study the western pond turtle habitat.

Fresno State students monitor water quality at Cottonwood Creek.