A Bombastic Trip to the Biological Station

The Eco Club. Photo by Marcy McCormick.

After finally arriving in Pellston, Michigan on Friday March 8, the Community High School Ecology Club sat around a fire in the common room of the dorms at the University of Michigan Biological Station. This was the first overnight trip taken by the Eco Club. Following the hours of snowball fights and wrestling outside, everyone kicked off their boots and head down to the dorms to shed their winter layers and return for games and hot chocolate. After a “friendly” snowball fight, the Eco Club members took a well deserved break from the snow to warm up and listen to club leader and science teacher Courtney Kiley tell stories of her ingenious pranks from her days as a student at the Bio Station.

The University of Michigan Bio Station is a small extension of their science program located in Pellston instead of on campus. While many who apply to take classes at the station attend Michigan, that’s not always the case. The Bio Station takes applications from current or potential students from other colleges, as well as those who just graduated high school without any previous college experience. Here, classes are offered in subjects such as ecology, evolution, local species including fish and birds, and even English classes inspired by the environment.

On Saturday, the group of 16 students and 4 chaperones went on a hike with two guides, both Bio Station alumni, who shared their love of the area and what they learned there as students. They came back to the Pellston to work with the local newspaper and spend time in the area they love. The guides taught the Eco Club members about identifying the native species, sharing poetry written about the area and giving a history on the native people that used to live there. “I also learned a bit more about the geology of glaciers that we learned freshman year,” said Mari Milkie, an enthusiastic Eco Club member. For her and many other members of the club the trip was a nice escape to a more unrefined environment.

Along with the Eco Club trip being a learning experience, the students who went on the trip found it to be a bonding experience too. “I think we really bonded as a group and all around it was one of the best school trips I’ve ever taken… it was really fun because I liked the group even before we went, but since it was kind of isolated and snowy and a really good place to hang out… I thought it brought us closer together as a group,” said Isaac Scobey-Thal, a second year member of the Ecology Club.

Chaperones and students alike agree that the trip was successful and would love to return sometime in the future. “I loved that we can get away… I would like to see it as a yearly, if not bi-yearly trip, and I think overall there [were] a lot of learning opportunities, but there’s also a lot of fun, downtime, and bonding experiences where the club got to spend time with each other and that’s valuable,” said Marcy McCormick, a CHS science teacher and chaperone on the trip.

The success of the trip makes Kiley certain a similar one will happen in the future. “It was totally bombastic! It was so much fun! I think this is going to become an annual thing, so the kids that didn’t get to go this time will hopefully get to go in the future,” said Kiley.

Students and chaperones agree that the trip had a beautiful and meaningful location, a great group of people and was altogether a wonderful trip to the Bio Station. Kiley explained, “Just to be outside and to appreciate nature and appreciate the people you’re around and to get away from technology for a weekend and the hustle and bustle of homework, and that kind of stuff, I think to take a step back and appreciate all the stuff around us in northern Michigan is just so cool.”