In the early 1970s, Goshen High School science teacher Carl Weaver (GC ‘69) shared with a class about a three-week marine biology trip to the Florida Keys he went on in 1968 as a Goshen College student. Several students asked if they could organize a similar course.
This school year, Carl is planning Goshen High School’s 42nd marine biology trip to the Florida Keys, the result of those first students showing interest and excitement in taking their learning 1,500 miles from their classroom.
Each of those years, several Goshen High School students, parents (and often other, younger siblings), and staff head to the Florida Keys for eight days of science exploration, community building, and memory making.
“It’s a cross-generational group,” Carl said. That’s a part of why the annual trip has such special feeling to it, he explained.
Students also complete about 15 hours of class instruction time on Saturday mornings to prepare for the trip.
“It’s a cross-generational group. That’s a part of why the annual trip has such special feeling to it.”
Once in Florida, the students not only engage in classroom lectures at Goshen College’s J.N. Roth Marine Biology Station in Florida and in marine exploration, but prepare nearly all of their meals together.
“It’s a different kind of education, an education without four walls,” Weaver said.
It’s a fun trip, to be sure, but also an academically intense week. Students are responsible to accomplish an agenda of research and learning through the trip.
“My goal is to create a deep respect for the ocean environment and all that goes on there, the way organisms live and we can learn from that,” he said. “Preserving the oceans is key to human survival.”
The trip has expanded beyond Goshen High School marine biology students. Northridge High School in Middlebury is now sending some science students and staff along. Goshen High School art teacher Cindy Cooper has been aiding on the trip for years, but recently has also brought some advanced Goshen art students on the trip.
“It’s been a cooperative effort.”
Along with Carl, his wife, Chris Weaver, has played a significant role in organizing and providing instruction the past 20-some years. He also wouldn’t be able to have established such an accomplished and popular program without all of the community’s support.
The Goshen community has continually helped raise funds to help students go on the trip and volunteered to help chaperone.
“I wanted any kid who wanted to go to be able to go, no matter if they could pay or not,” Carl said. “The community has just been outstanding.”
So have the students.
“This trip would not happen year after year without students’ cooperation,” Carl said. Every year, leaders are impressed with students’ behavior and responsibility. “They pave the way for future participation.”
“It’s been a cooperative effort,” Carl said. “I’ve just been along for the ride.”
“It’s a different kind of education, an education without four walls.”
“My goal is to create a deep respect for the ocean environment and all that goes on there.”
“I wanted any kid who wanted to go to be able to go, no matter if they could pay or not.”
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