Professor Travels to California for 2016 Earthwatch

By Hong Ngyuen

From Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, Dr. John Elia, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, completed his Earthwatch trip in Tahoe National Forest in northeastern Ca.

The purpose of the trip is to send volunteers to do “citizen science” where students participate in ongoing scientific studies all over the world. Dr. Elia, this year’s chosen applicant, assisted the South Yuba River Citizen League (SYRCL) based in Nevada City, Ca. with their study of the high Sierra meadows. Elia took part in gathering data before, during, and after the restoration of a series of meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He participated in environmental field work with the goal of learning about the scientific occurrence. Fieldwork consisted of working with a botanist and examining the Sierra meadows’ soil, helping count plant species, and working with a hydrologist to install wells and water gauges to measure water flow in the meadow.

When asked to compare the Sierra Nevadas to Pennsylvania, where he has lived and worked for some time, Elia stated, “The Sierra Nevadas are vast and gorgeous. They are much rockier, drier, and coniferous than the terrain near Chambersburg. I’d never been there before, so during lunch breaks, or when I’d take a pause from work, I just enjoyed looking around, taking in the scenery.” Elia claims to have learned so much during the week of the trip as he had little knowledge about botany and hydrology in his specialty of philosophy.

It was hard for Elia to decide his favorite moment during the trip as he had a great time overall. He enjoyed the mountain views and the new knowledge and skills that he has gained during the activities. He has new ideas about partnering with Wilson’s science faculty to take students out of the classroom to experience more field work. “I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know the people I met on the project, both the volunteers on my team as well as the SYRCL and Earthwatch staff,” Elia continued. “I was inspired by them, whether using vacation days from work to come to labor in the mountains, or dedicating their own working lives to advocacy for the Sierras.”

Elia has very much enjoyed his 2016 Earthwatch trip.

Slide show photos provided by Dr. John Elia

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