Hands-on learning opportunities are a focal point for students in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) on the University of Georgia Tifton campus and a key part of its academic mission.
Glen Harris, a CAES professor who teaches a soils and hydrology class each semester, offers students a variety of hands-on learning experiences each semester through field trips.
“If you can show it to them rather than tell them about it, they pay closer attention and it’s more real,” said Harris.
A highlight of Harris’ class every November is the annual trip to Providence Canyon, also known as the “Little Grand Canyon,” in Lumpkin, Georgia. During the daylong trip to the western part of the state, students visit the canyon and immerse themselves in topics they have already covered in class, including soil layering, types of soil, the effects and types of erosion, and soil textures and structures.
Students are able to learn and retain information taught in class easier when they experience those concepts in a real-world environment, Harris said.
“The Little Grand Canyon is the epitome of what Harris’ soils class is,” said Kasey Herrington, a junior CAES agriscience and environmental systems major. “Everything you learn comes together right before your eyes.”
Students learn differently and are able to make the most of their educational experience through unique opportunities made available at UGA-Tifton.
“I can sit and listen to lectures all day and not take anything from it, but being able to get outside of the classroom and see all of the topics we cover in the real world really helps me grasp them easier,” said Marlyn Grantham, a junior CAES agricultural education major and self-proclaimed visual learner.
The trip to Providence Canyon is just one of many the class takes throughout the semester. Harris’ class also visits a compost operation in Douglas, Georgia; a soil testing lab in Camilla, Georgia; and the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s research farm in Moultrie, Georgia, to learn about field research as part of the weekly laboratory component of the soils and hydrology course.
“I tell my students we do our best learning on Fridays,” said Harris.
Harris has been taking students to Providence Canyon since he began his teaching career at UGA-Tifton 17 years ago. The all-day adventure is the last big field trip of the fall semester for the class and, according to Harris, it’s the high point of the semester.
“This trip is the capstone of the course. Even though it’s a little early, it’s a great way to wrap up the class,” he said.
To learn more about classes and unique learning opportunities offered at UGA-Tifton, visit tifton.caes.uga.edu/about.