More than 700 students will be traveling to EPI program sites in 2022, and many more local students will be conducting research, building leadership skills, and protecting wildlife in their own backyards. Whether our participants are traveling from afar or stepping out their front doors, there are piles of moving parts behind the scenes that ensure all participants experience these biodiverse areas safely.
EPI Needs Your Help to Fuel the Field!
Your contributions to the EPI's Fuel the Field wishlists ensure we have the equipment needed to keep students safe and comfortable while they enjoy place-based education and hands-on research. Your support means each and every student can participate and engage in deeper levels of research and exploration in their own unique way.
Here's how you can support:
1. CHECK OUT our wishlist items for EPI program sites and contribute so we can Fuel the Field!
2. SHARE your favorite program site's wishlist with your friends and family and help your favorite site reach its goal first! Each program has its own specific needs and they are all important!
3. EXPLORE! Here are just 5 of the awesome experiences students will have while on an EPI course!
1. Research with Community Leaders & Science Professionals
On an EPI course, your classroom is the outdoors! We collaborate with community leaders and science professionals that know the area and the unique conservation challenges that exist there. In the Baja Peninsula, a place that's home to 39% of the Earth's marine mammal species, students conduct grey whale surveys with EPI instructors and scientific partners. While in Yellowstone National Park, our partnership with National Park Service scientists offer hands-on experience tracking and spotting native wildlife. (EPI's efforts were also credited in this research article!)
The equipment we use gets so much use while conducting research! Usually, we end up needing to replace our GPS units, spotting scopes, snowshoes, and snorkel gear.
2. Camping in Nature
Nothing says "connecting with the outdoors" better than sleeping beneath the stars! EPI participants set up camp on the first day of course by staking their own tent! Whether camping by the ocean in Baja or by the famous Yellowstone River, our tents do a great job of creating a safe, comfortable home for participants in the field!
After a day of data collection, students take a well-deserved break from research in their tents, beneath camp shades, or underneath the palapa. These shelters are some of EPI's most valuable equipment!
3. Eating Delicious Meals
Participating in an EPI course means research, and researchers need fuel! And on some programs, that fuel is prepared teamwork-style by participants. Yellowstone courses include learning to cook and prepare meals in outdoor kitchens! But when was the last time you saw a refrigerator out in the wild? Some EPI participants will pack in all of the food that they will be cooking during their course and rely upon coolers and camp stoves to store ingredients and make their meals.
4. Taking in the View from the Passenger Seat
It's easy to take in the beauty of unique locations when someone else is doing the driving! While on course, there can be lots of travel to and from research sites. In Yellowstone, EPI travels throughout the Lamar Valley each day to conduct research on bison, spot pronghorns, perform amphibian surveys in nearby ponds, catch a glimpse of a wolf pack, and travel to their outdoor learning space to reflect on what was discovered that day.
An EPI Yellowstone course full of research can easily put more than 1,200 miles of wear and tear on a vehicle! That equals about $9,000 of maintenance per year!
And we don't mean WiFi connection. For many participants, the EPI connection doesn't end after their first course. These students, teachers, and community members dive into authentic research on vulnerable wildlife, help study and eradicate invasive species, engage their communities, and continue making a difference in the world. We connect EPI alumni with continued engagement opportunities through internships, workshops, collegiate scholarships, mentorship programs, and more – allowing deep change to take root and creating the conditions for lifelong growth.
EPI alumni report that our programs have a lasting impact on their education, careers, environmental dispositions, and behaviors. Even more critically, these programs also cultivate social awareness and leadership skills, allowing us to magnify those impacts across the wider community, catalyzing deep, systematic change.