Welcome to our 2019 FW391 Palau Ridges-to-Reefs blog!

For the next two weeks this blog will detail the learning adventures of Oregon State University’s FW391 students in Palau! This class is designed to explore natural resources on small islands and how both communities and ecosystems can be resilient with appropriate management approaches. In addition to the seven students from OSU, we have four Palauan students joining us from Palau Community College and three more from a local high school. This mixing of students provides great opportunities for peer-to-peer student learning, and sharing our learning with the Palauan students -who have a great wealth of cultural and ecological knowledge about their country, will contribute greatly to the richness of the class. We will also be joined by Dr. Chris Kitalong, a Palauan scientist at PCC.

Each day two students will post a narrative of our adventures, talk about what they’ve learned, and share videos and photos to round it all out. For our first blog, Bryan Endress, who organized the course, and Scott Heppell, who is a co-instructor, are taking on the task. So let’s get started!

Most students arrived a day or two before class to take advantage of the amazing recreational opportunities that Palau has to offer, including world-class scuba diving. Here’s Dylan Heppell, Simone Burton, and Destiny Pauls getting up close and personal with some of the underwater denizens of Palau’s amazing coral reefs:

Our first official day of class was great, too! Our goals for today were to get students thinking about Palau, its natural resources, and its culture. First of all, who doesn’t love a syllabus review to start the day?

Following that rousing activity, we visited the Belau National Museum, where we learned about the several thousand-year history of the islands, some of the important cultural features of Palauan society, and a bit about Palau’s recent efforts in conservation. Having the Palauan students along was a fantastic way for the OSU kids to learn more about the various topics than what could be read on the placards. Outside was a traditional Bai, a meeting house for chiefs in the community.

After a quick break for lunch we were headed off for our afternoon activity -a visit to the Aquarium followed by afternoon snorkeling to round out the day.

And every day in Palau ends with a fantastic sunset…

It was a great way to start the class, and it’s just the start of what will hopefully be an amazing two weeks.  So please follow along!

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