Experiencing America's Wildest Classroom
"Life-changing, opportunity of a lifetime, paradise, a gift I will cherish for the rest of my life" are the words natural resources students use to describe Taylor Wilderness Research Station. Owned by the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources, Taylor is a 65-acre complex in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho.
Accessible only by plane or a 35-mile hike in one of the largest unfragmented tracts of wildlife habitat in the lower 48 states, Taylor has been appropriately dubbed "America's Wildest Classroom."
Endowments and scholarships fund a 10-week wilderness intern program designed to give students a one-of-a-kind wilderness learning opportunity they can't get anywhere else.
Last summer, five College of Natural Resources students packed their gear and embarked on a flight that would begin a transformative wilderness experience for the next two months.
Andy Osler, a senior majoring in fisheries resources, let his passion guide his research in bull trout habitats as he explored the tributaries of Big Creek. "Having the opportunity to live in a wilderness setting is something not many people have the pleasure of doing. Being able to conduct research at the same time makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I will never forget," says Andy.
For Brian Howard, a senior majoring in ecology and conservation biology, the remote nature of Taylor allowed him the unique opportunity to explore research in an area with minimal human impact.
The impact of Taylor and its offerings extends beyond the millions of acres of wilderness. Shaylee Martling, a wildlife senior, and Crista O'Conner, an ecology and conservation biology senior, collected botanical specimens that will be stored at the University of Idaho Stillinger Herbarium. "The collection we have started should help us to better understand the landscape changes," notes Shaylee.
Mikaela Campbell, a junior majoring in ecology and conservation biology, experienced transformational personal growth at Taylor in addition to her research discoveries. "Doing research there this summer was an amazing chance for me to grow as a student and a person. Taylor changed who I am for the better."