Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the campus address and phone number?
    McCall Outdoor Science School
    University of Idaho – McCall Field Campus
    P.O. Box 1025
    1800 University Lane*
    McCall, ID 83638

    This is the address you will use. You do not need to get your own post office box.

    * If you are sending anything by any means other than the U.S. Postal Service (i.e., FedEx or UPS), you need to provide the physical address.
  • Who do I contact if I have questions over the summer?

    Primary Contact:

    Dr. Karla Eitel
    Director of Education
    E-mail: (best option)
    Phone: (208) 310-7081

    Secondary Contact:

    Greg Fizzell
    Program Director
    Phone: (208) 310-7084

  • Is there a deposit to hold my seat in the program?
    Yes. If we offer you a position in the program and you accept, a $1,400 nonrefundable deposit is required within 30 days of acceptance in order to hold your seat in the program. If the deposit is not received within this timeframe, your seat will be forfeited to the next student on the waiting list. Once paid, the deposit is nonrefundable if you choose to relinquish your seat at a later time.
  • How do I pay for room and board?

    Room and board costs are billed through the University of Idaho and will be billed as soon as you are registered for classes. You will receive a letter from the University of Idaho at whatever address you have indicated as your mailing address. Bills need to be paid according to the UI Fee Schedule. Typically, registrations are processed around the beginning of August.

  • Am I eligible for Financial Aid?
    Yes. Visit the University of Idaho Financial Aid website for more information.
  • Can I work outside of MOSS?
    We strongly suggest that students not work outside of the MOSS academic program. The graduate program is very time intensive requiring nights and weekends to study, complete assignments and rest. We cannot prohibit you from working if you feel it is necessary. We will be very honest with students if we feel their outside work is interfering with their academic progress.
  • What is the approximate cost of my text books for the year?
    Approximately $200.
  • How can I find additional funding to support my graduate program at the UI MOSS program?
    MOSS can promise a project assistantship worth $5,550 in addition to opportunities to earn extra money through work study positions and summer positions. Being a MOSS graduate student opens up many possibilities for being involved in research projects and university-level teaching during your degree program. Typically, research and teaching assistantships become known during the first year of the program, while students are spending the year at MOSS, and are awarded while students finish their degree requirements at the UI main campus in Moscow.  We currently have several students in Moscow (and many in the past) who have been offered either Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships for their final fall semester (or more) - see how these Featured Students developed their own funding portfolio. These assistantships often include a partial or full out-of-state tuition waiver and an hourly salary. MOSS students are particularly attractive for Teaching Assistantships because of the great training they receive during our program.
  • Do I need a car?
    No. The McCall Field Campus is 1.3 miles (25 minute walk) from downtown McCall. There is a great bike path from the campus to town as well as public transportation.
  • What do my fees cover?

    Fees cover the costs of instruction, room, board, and transportation.

  • What do I need to bring with me?

    Things you MUST Bring to the MOSS Program:

    • A day pack big enough to carry field gear, ~2000 cu. In.
    • Sleeping Bag/bedding/pillow
    • General school supplies for your course work
    • A positive attitude with a “can do”, teamwork orientation
    • Rain Gear for the fall
    • Snow Gear for the Winter/Spring - Puffy Jacket and Snow Boots
    • Good technical synthetic/wool layers
    • Sturdy pair of hiking boots/shoes
    • Alarm Clock
    • Watch

    Things you might like having:

    Sleeping Gear

    • Heavy sleeping bag; extra blanket; extra pillow


    • 2 pair synthetic/quick drying long pants
    • 1 pair of shorts for in-camp use (early fall only)
    • Extra pairs of long underwear (wool or polypropylene, no cotton)
    • Warm wool/fleece sweater or heavy wool shirt
    • Long sleeved shirt and appropriate number of t-shirts
    • Warm down or synthetic jacket
    • Broad-brimmed hat for sun protection
    • Knit wool hat and warm gloves
    • Synthetic or Wool socks (avoid cotton!)
    • Knee high rubber boots for early morning dew and wading
    • Tennis shoes for in-camp use
    • Winter gear (snow pants, jacket, snow boots)
    • A laptop computer

    Personal Items

    • Soap and container, shampoo; towel; toothpaste; sunscreen etc.


    • Flashlight or Headlamp with extra batteries and bulb
    • Water bottle or canteen (1 liter or 1 quart minimum that is water tight)
    • Small pencil sharpener
    • Electric hotpots for your cabin or yurt
    • Backpacking / outdoor equipment
    • A bike (town is within biking and walking distance)


    • Binoculars (highly recommended), hand lens or small magnifying glass
    • Field guides (birds, insects, rocks and minerals, etc.)
    • Sunglasses
  • Are there computers available for me to use at MOSS?

    It is generally expected that students will arrive at MOSS with their own laptop computer. We have a wireless network with broadband internet connectivity along with a networked printer/copier.

  • What gear do I need for the backpacking trip? Rafting trip? Winter camping trip?
    Please see the post on what to bring with you to MOSS. This is a recommended personal gear list. These gear recommendations are for a backcountry trip but can also serve as a model for the "bare necessities" as a MOSS Instructor. Outside of the backcountry, we feel that these recommendations would allow an individual to enjoy exposure to a broad range of Idaho weather, always have a light to see with and a bowl to eat from.
  • What else should I bring?

    Its nice to have a bike for trips into town. Skis, kayaks, and other toys are fun (though keep in mind that there is limited storage space, so you'll want to choose wisely).

  • Where will I live?
    Field instructors live in either cabins or yurts, depending on their housing preference. A housing preference form is included in your paperwork packet. Cabins have their own bathroom, while yurt residents use the bathhouse.
  • What is resident life like at MOSS? Is there a common "hang-out" space outside of our residence?

    Living at the U of I McCall Field Campus is an opportunity of a lifetime. The campus is located on Payette Lake with 600 feet of sandy beach, includes eight cabins, a classroom/office building, two staff cabins (duplexes), a dining hall, two large classroom yurts (one for MOSS students and one for field instructors), five small staff yurts and a bathhouse.

    Unlike many graduate programs, field instructors at MOSS get to know each other very well by living and working together. Many students spend their time off with the other field instructors by the lake, biking and hiking in the mountains, attending concerts in town or having a campfire together. Students also enjoy spending time in nearby Ponderosa State Park. The MOSS community is very close-knit.

    The campus is busy, but field instructors have some special places to have some quiet time, if they want. The area surrounding the staff cabins is off limits to MOSS students. Also, the beach is a quiet place that staff can go. The field instructor classroom yurt overlooking the lake is another great place to hang out, work on lesson plans or finish homework. The social atmosphere of the MOSS community is a highlight of the MOSS experience.

    We recently remodeled the old "Cook's Cabin" to provide a common lounge space for our graduate students. It contains a full kitchen, a living area and a full bath.

  • Would I be able to host friends / family in my living quarters at MOSS?

    Yes, as long as your roommate is okay with it and there are not K-12 students on campus. Exceptions to this can be made on a case by case basis.

  • Can my pet live with me?

    Unfortunately, we do not allow pets to live on campus.

  • Can I live off campus?

    Yes. We strongly encourage students to live on campus for at least the first fall semester, however. We are happy to accommodate individual needs on a case by case basis.

  • What size are the beds?

    The beds are twin size (normal twin, not twin long).

  • How is my Yurt/Cabin furnished?
    The cabins have a small bathroom with a toilet and a shower. There is a bunk bed, a table/chairs, a small fridge, a kitchen sink area and a hotplate. There is a ceiling light and sometimes a lamp or two.  The lamps tend to migrate around campus so if you have a favorite reading lamp, bring it along.  All cabins have electricity and electric heat. 

    The yurts have a bunk bed, a table/chairs and a small fridge. There is a ceiling light and sometimes a lamp or two.  All yurts have electricity and propane heat. The gender specific restroom is a short walk away.  Please do not use appliances (i.e., hot water heaters, microwaves, toasters, etc.) in the yurts.  You can still bring these items and use them in the Cook's Cabin (the grad kitchen and hang-out space).
  • What happens during orientation?
    During the first three weeks (orientation), you will participate in team building, develop a sense of place in the McCall area, and write your lesson plans for the coming semester. Students participating in the graduate residency come from a variety of backgrounds, so one of the major focuses of orientation is to help make sure that all students have a similar understanding of the MOSS curriculum. Field instructors are also introduced to the inquiry teaching method, which focuses on helping students learn through questioning and hands on exploration.

    By participating in team initiatives, communication exercises, and group projects, instructors get to know their fellow graduate students, and begin their growth as a team. Lastly, field instructors will participate in a backpacking trip designed to orient you to the area and provide a space for even deeper bonding to the natural and human communities in which you will be living.

    The last week of orientation will be spent developing your individual lesson plans. The MOSS staff will provide support and feedback to help make your lessons the best that they can be. Graduate students often work together to share ideas about possible activities, sites to visit and team building activities to use. At the end of orientation, students will be divided into two teaching teams. Students will teach six out of the eleven weeks of the MOSS fall residency, and attend their graduate classes during the other five weeks.
  • What will my teaching weeks be like?

    The basic layout for a MOSS teaching week includes the following:

    • Monday: students arrive, introduction, team building
    • Tuesday: hydrology day*
    • Wednesday: terrestrial day*
    • Thursday: student led research project
    • Friday: closing program, students leave

    *Half of the students will have terrestrial day on Tuesday, while the other students are participating in hydrology day, Wednesday, the students switch. All field instruction takes place in Ponderosa State Park (located within a 15-minute walk of the MOSS Field Campus).

    Generally, field instructors work with their students from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm. Some nights, field instructors are needed for evening activities after a two hour break.

    Monday, teachers begin with a team meeting. Instructors work together to get field notebooks, nametags, and the classroom setup. Instructors usually meet at 10:00 am, break for lunch, and finish up by early afternoon. The students usually arrive around 1:00 pm. After students arrive, field instructors facilitate a few large group activities, and then break up into their teams. Each group develops a team contract and discusses their expectations for the week. The rest of the day is spent getting to know the students and teaching some of the basics of the MOSS curriculum including Earth System Science and the scientific method. Field instructors are expected to eat dinner in the dining hall with students. Following dinner, teams meet again, and then participate in an evening activity together.

    Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the day starts bright and early with a 7:15 am team meeting. Field instructors meet together to go over scheduling for the day, as well as to discuss any student or chaperone issues that may have arisen. At 7:45 the chaperones will come in to discuss the day plan with you. At 8:00 am, field instructors meet with their students. Most of the day is spent in the field (9:00 am until 3:45 pm). Specific details of the MOSS schedule will be given during orientation.

    The hydrology day content focuses on the watersheds. Students learn about the interactions between water and land, the water cycle, water quality measurements, and macro invertebrates. Teachers work with their students to build understanding through questioning rather than traditional lectures. Students have the opportunity to see the McCall area and gain an understanding of its watershed. Macroscopes, water chemistry kits, pH paper and other scientific tools are used to facilitate the learning process. On terrestrial day, students are provided with an opportunity to learn the basics of terrestrial ecosystems. Students learn to identify signs of succession, native and nonnative species, and forestry management practices. Using a matchstick forest, students are also able to explore fire behavior and the impacts of forest management.

    For research day, field instructors help their students develop a project using the scientific method and science process skills. The research project is completed in Ponderosa State Park. Topics vary depending on the student’s interests. Some examples include: what types of fuels burn best, how does water temperature affect levels of dissolved oxygen, how does tree density vary between managed and unmanaged forests.

    Friday, students present their research projects, complete a final evaluation and head home by 10:30 am. After the students leave, members of the teaching and academic teams clean up the MOSS campus in preparation for the next teaching week. Following lunch, all of the MOSS field instructors and staff participate in a weekly debriefing which includes highs and lows of the week, what could be improved, and other issues that arose during the week. Debriefing usually lasts around two hours, but field instructors are expected to be available until the meeting is finished on Friday. In past years, teachers have really enjoyed the opportunity to reflect each week with their fellow teachers.

    The basic format for a teaching week is the same for all five weeks. Teachers generally try new activities to improve their lessons each week, but the content remains the same. Students are excited about being able to spend time learning outside and participate in
    team building activities. Teaching at MOSS is an unforgettable experience.

  • How can I get a head start on learning what I will be teaching?

    Instructors in the past have found it useful to get a head start on learning some of the science content that we teach in the 5th and 6th grade program, especially if you are far removed from your last science class. Even if you are an ecology whiz, you might want to refresh yourself on these particular topics. We will cover everything in training, but we have to pack a lot of information into a short amount of time. We really recommend getting started now!

    As an instructor at MOSS, you will need to be familiar with the following topics (at a

    • Watersheds
    • Qualitative and quantitative measures of water – pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, conductivity
    • Basic macroinvertebrate identification
    • Basic rangeland and forest plant identification
    • Soil – layers, structure, chemistry
    • Succession
    • Elements of fire – combustion, pyrolysis, the fire triangle
    • Fire ecology (the interaction and role of fire in an ecosystem)
    • Forest structure (layers)
    • Some bird identification is helpful
    • Some tracking skills are helpful
    • The basic steps of the scientific process of inquiry (“the scientific method”) and science process skills (basic and integrated)
    • A basic understanding of earth systems science, (lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere) and interactions between them.
  • Can I take any time off?

    You get one week for Thanksgiving break, approximately three weeks for Winter break, and one week for Spring break. Additional personal or professional days may be arranged on a per case basis.

  • What type of personal and vacation time will I have?

    Most (but not all) weekends are free. We take a week off at Thanksgiving, 3 weeks for winter break, one week for spring break.

  • How do I get there if I am driving?
    From Boise and points south, travel on State Highway 55 into downtown McCall. Several blocks before reaching Payette Lake, take a right turn onto Park Street. Park Street merges and turns into Thompson St. Follow Park/Thompson for 1/2 mile to stop sign. Take a left turn onto Davis Street. Follow Davis Street for 1.6 mile (through the Lick Creek Rd. intersection). You will have to stop at the PSP Kiosk. Say you are going to the UI Field Campus and they will let you through. Proceed till you see the Field Campus sign, turn left and follow road until you see the driveway into the McCall Field Campus (there is a sign on the left side of the road). Take a left into the McCall Campus driveway at the sign.

    From points north, travel on State Highway 55 into downtown McCall. Highway 55 becomes Lake Street. At the intersection of Lake and 3rd Streets (both are technically still Highway 55), turn right onto 3rd. Travel south on 3rd for two blocks and take a left turn
    onto Park Street. Park Street merges and turns into Thompson St. Follow Park/Thompson for 1/2 mile to stop sign. Take a left turn onto Davis Street. Follow Davis Street for 1.6 mile (through the Lick Creek Rd. intersection). You will have to stop at the PSP Kiosk. Say you are going to the UI Field Campus and they will let you through. Proceed till you see the Field Campus sign; turn left follow road until you see the driveway into the McCall Field Campus (there is a sign on the left side of the road). Take a left into the McCall Campus driveway at the sign.
  • Can I get there using public transportation?
    The main option for public transportation to McCall is the Northwest Trailways Bus Service. Call 1-800-366-3830 for information. It is also possible to get a taxi from the airport (~$100) or contact some other incoming students to ride share.
  • What’s the food like? Do graduate students have access to a kitchen?

    The majority of eaters at MOSS during your residency will be 5th and 6th graders, and the food is catered to their tastes. Graduate students eat with the MOSS students during the week. There is always a salad bar with a wide variety of choices, and we always provide options that will appeal to our more health conscious adults and those with dietary restrictions. If you have any food allergies or special food needs, the cooks will work with you to the best of their ability to meet your needs. When you live on campus, you also have a meal plan. Every time the kitchen cooks a meal, it is available to you as well. On weekends or weekdays when there are no meals on campus, graduate students have the opportunity to request specific food from the Kitchen Manager. The graduate student lounge space is called the "Cook's Cabin" and also includes a full kitchen and a full bath.

  • Do I need to be certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR?

    Yes, and we have incorporated a course through the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS/WMI) as part of your initial training.

  • I do not have WFA certification. Can I get this through MOSS?
    A WFA/CPR course through the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School (WMI of NOLS) will be held the weekend before MOSS training begins. The cost of the WFR/CPR is $230 and room/board will be provided. If you would like to get your WFA/CPR training that weekend, please contact Sacha Jackson and let her know that you will be joining us for the year.
  • I will be taking the WFA course. I noticed the schedule said 12:00 - 8:00 p.m. is when students can go on campus. May I show up any time during that period, or is there a certain time I need to be on campus?
    Contact Sacha for WFA information and to enroll. She will let you know more about arrival details a few weeks before the course. Know that you need to enroll and pay for the tuition, and room/board will be provided for you.
  • When visiting this site in the past I noticed that the graduate program was affiliated with AmeriCorps. Why is this no longer the case?
    By ending our affiliation with AmeriCorps we are giving our students much greater flexibility in becoming involved with exciting research projects from across the university. Before, while students were receiving an AmeriCorps stipend, they were not allowed to be paid by other University of Idaho projects. So when really great project/research opportunities became available (and they become available often because our students are in demand), students did not have the flexibility to take advantage of them. We think this adds much higher value to the overall graduate experience.  In addition, it also provides greater flexibility to our overall program. For example, we will now be able to serve K12 students from outside Idaho.
  • Why are we going on a backpacking trip?

    Good question. We will address three reasons here, but there are certainly more. First, it will allow the graduate educators to see more of the backcountry surrounding McCall, reinforcing our own sense of place. Secondly, we will have the opportunity to focus on ourselves as a group without outside distractions. Finally, this trip will provide some of the foundational framework for the Outdoor Leadership curriculum.

  • Is there a thrift store in town?
    There are two thrift stores, one consignment shop and one outdoor gear consignment shop in McCall.