The American Intercultural Center and the Southeast Asian Student Union are organizing a one-day trip to the We Are Hmong Minnesota exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Come and learn more about the Hmong culture. In addition, the museum trip includes storytelling led by Lt. Nhia-Long Vu as part of the Stories from a Hmong Secret Warrior panel. Also part of the day is a visit to the nearby Hmong Village market — the Twin Cities have the largest urban Hmong population in America, roughly 65,000 residents — with unique fruits, vegetables, traditional Hmong food, clothing and much more. The date is Saturday, Oct. 17, departing at 7 a.m. from the Studio Arts Blue parking lot with an estimated return of 11 p.m. The fee of only $10 covers museum entrance and coach bus fare. The signup deadline is Monday the 12th at the AIC. For more on the exhibit or market.
UW-Green Bay students in Associate Professor Heidi Sherman’s (Humanistic Studies-Medieval History) History Capstone Course had a chance to relive the past with a visit to a longhouse recreated to replicate those of tenth-century Scandinavian farms in Norway.
Owen and Elspeth Christianson, who have studied Viking-age Norway for nearly 40 years, built the longhouse in 2011-2012 near Marshfield, Wis.
Students camped overnight and some slept in the longhouse, others in tents. They enjoyed an evening campfire and a pre-modern tradition — storytelling. Owen shared tales of the Vinland Sagas, which describe the Viking voyages to Labrador, Canada in the early 11th century.
The students studied two specific areas of Viking history, clothing in Viking-age Greenland and woodworking.
Hands-on opportunities included medieval weaving, including metal weaving, and blacksmithing — creating their own s-hooks used for hanging pots over the fire. Some students spread daub (a mixture of clay, sand and straw) over the walls of the Viking-era latrine. They also prepared all of the food: apple-onion-bacon stew, porridge and flat bread (recipes from the Viking Age with ingredients available to medieval Scandinavians).
“The teamwork, mixed with the learning of the Viking culture, gave me an awesome positive feeling I’ve rarely felt on these things,” said student Kelsey Schulz. “Instead of a classic lecture students were able to have a first hand experience about the everyday life in the pre-modern world.”
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It was a sunny and mild morning March 3 when 18 students left UW-Green Bay to travel to Wabikon National Forest for the opportunity to track small mammals with the help of longtime UW-Green Bay Prof. Robert Howe.
This year’s field trip to Wabikon Forest Dynamic Plot was the latest excursion hosted by Howe and a team of UW-Green Bay graduate students. The plot is located approximately 85 miles northwest of UW-Green Bay near Townsend. Snowfall throughout the week preceding the field trip was helpful in creating a perfect setting for tracking the mammals that call the forest floor their home.
The Wabikon Forest Dynamic plot has been utilized by Howe and other scientists to determine which types of mammals inhabit Wabikon — and their approximate population — as well as other important fieldwork since 2007.
When the bus came to rest on the road that would take the travelers to the 6-year-old plot, it quickly became apparent that blazing trails through the crisp snow would be the primary source of annoyance for the afternoon field trip. Despite the minor inconvenience, most were in high spirits and prepared for the 30-minute hike to the plotted grid.
“Systematically recording the mammal tracks within the three columns today will increase students’ ability to recognize these animal tracks in the future,” Howe said. “We could see fisher, coyote and possibly even fox.”
Students were bundled up for the trek through the woods because in order to find the small creatures, you had to go where they lived — often under the knee-deep snow. Luckily, students only had to be on the lookout for tracks on top of the snow.
One UW-Green Bay graduate student was engaged in research of a different nature during the trip. Cindy Burtley has been researching tree growth throughout the plot. By measuring the growth or stagnation of different species of trees, Burtley and her colleagues can compare the results and allow for better forest management practices.
“By installing metal bands on the trees and measuring growth, we can tell how different species grow during different parts of the year,” Burtley said. “We didn’t anticipate how much some trees have shrunk.”
The excursion exemplifies UW-Green Bay’s 360° of Learning approach, allowing students to participate in activities that facilitate greater understanding of what it means to work in the field — with top-notch faculty — and how this work directly relates to their coursework. It’s a focus on student-centered learning from multiple perspectives that shows students what they enjoy — or may not enjoy — about their chosen career path.
“So many students don’t get to experience field work,” Burtley said. “They think because they like going out in the woods and hunting, that this is for them, and this isn’t always how it works.”
As snow crunched underneath their boots, students surveyed the ground hoping to spot tiny tracks, which were sometimes so faint that the only way to determine the species was to get on hands and knees and squint at the subtle markings. After a handful of these encounters, Howe made quick use of his logbook.
“Indistinguishable mammal,” he said.
Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot could become a second home to some mammalogy students if their experience is a positive one. UW-Green Bay senior biology student Jesse Weinzinger noted that the trip might be the first time in a young biology student’s career in which he or she enters the field.
“Being able to search for and determine the difference between deer, weasel or other mammal tracks is just the beginning,” Weinzinger said. “This trip could open doors to enable them to develop their own research project and to better their knowledge on their way to becoming a biologist.”
After several hours of searching for small mammal tracks in knee-deep snow, the four groups gathered to rest and reflect on what each logbook now contained. Discussion was often filled with the Howe’s ideas about the different discoveries and how each year’s trip was different from the one before it.
As the bus pulled into UW-Green Bay and the 18 students departed, it was clear that each explorer had taken from the experience what it means to become a scientist. As long as Howe continues to lead this type of fieldwork, students at UW-Green Bay will continue to develop a unique brand of critical thinking.
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