(Lee Schmitt) Our bus rolls along South Dakota Hwy 25, heading east, on its way back to Minnesota. It is time to reflect on a week of experiencing the power of geology, the growth of 8th grade students in camaraderie and character, and the power of learning geoscience as it should be learned – through investigations in the field.
Parkers Prairie students climbed talus slopes in the Black Hills,
walked the Oligocene outcrops of the Badlands, and descended into the karst
landscape of Wind Cave. There is no better way to make the study of geology
more relevant and lasting than to provide students with an outdoor laboratory
in which to question and make meaning.
I was fortunate to have been invited to participate in this well-organized, fast-paced week of observation, reflection, and investigation. The extraordinary efforts of Ms. Schoeneck, in preparing her students and in organizing and leading this trip, have been exemplary. College students from UM-Morris and Bowling Green State University were impressive, group facilitators; and our team of parent chaperones, exceptional. Peter Whelan would be proud to know that his legacy continues in very capable hands. Thank you for the opportunity to help students grow in their understanding of our planet and themselves.
(Marlene Schoeneck) The journey has ended,
but the legacy continues. Over the past month I struggled greatly over the
prospect of doing this trip without Peter. He was a dear friend and more like
a brother than a mere colleague. He and I spent countless hours together planning
and scheming for a trip and an experience that became our passion. To do it
without him seemed unthinkable. To deprive this year’s eighth graders
of this experience was more unthinkable. Peter remains, not only in my heart,
but also in all of the people who believed in the dream and worked to make
it a reality.
UMMers you are awesome. Your pain over Peter’s loss made you more fervently fight for the dream. You inspired several kids by Friday to say, “I think I might want to be a geologist." I can see the grin on Peter’s face!
Lee, you jumped in despite your busy schedule. You were there to lean on, to provide leadership, and to be “dad” to 42 kids whom you had never met. Your skills in inquiry-based learning still leave me in awe. You helped fill a void both on the trip and in my heart. You were the one to turn on the light when the dream began to look dim. Thanks buddy!
Bowling Green students, little did you know what viewing our website could get you into! You traveled 800 miles at your own expense because you too believed in the dream of a type of learning that truly leaves no kids behind. You seamlessly fit into the grand scheme, both as learners and teachers. You go back to Ohio now to plant the seeds of the dream in another place. Thanks for giving your time and hearts to the kids this week.
Parent chaperones and Steve, thank you for all of your hard work, late nights scurrying kids into tents, and putting your life on hold for a week for the cause of the dream. I couldn’t have done it without you. Even though the kids always initially think we should leave parents at home, I know they appreciate the fact that you care enough to help make the world revolve around them for a week!
Kids, wow! Look back on what you accomplished this week! You learned lots about geology, fossils, new people and places. Most of all you learned about yourselves. You have proven the strength you have as a class. No longer are you individuals, doing your own thing. You are a team, willing to work together for the good of all, willing to fight for your integrity as a class. There will be moments in the future it will seem to others, and maybe even to yourselves that you have lost that ability, but it will not be true. A part of your heart has been forever changed; the barriers that have prevented you from becoming a true team are erased. You are an awesome class. Don’t let yourselves forget the strength and caring that is within each of you, as it will carry you through the inevitable rough days ahead. You are the true bearers of Peter’s legacy. It is you that will continue to change lives and hearts as he did. Take the task upon yourselves and run with it, always knowing that you have people who love you and will support you. And when you take off on that run of your life, don’t forget your journals! I love you!
(Pam Gades, a.k.a Webmaster -- UM-Morris Staff) I know, I know. The title of this page reads, "Comments Submitted by the Travelers." Well, I traveled along with you -- in spirit! This was the second year I have volunteered my time to "do" the Web site. I've thoroughly enjoyed it and would like all of you to know that it has been an honor to be involved. Peter Whelan was not only my co-worker his entire tenure at UMM, he was my friend. I am so grateful to have known Peter and to have come to know Marlene Schoeneck through Peter. Marlene, everyone has said this, but I have to say it also, "You are awesome!" I know how difficult it was for you to continue with the plans for this year's trip.You did it proud, girl! You really did! Thanks to all of you who contributed items for the site: the photos, the journals, the feedback, and the comments. You all did a wonderful job!
Comments from Kids, Parents, and University Students
(Chelsea Olson) Even though I have already
been in South Dakota, I still had the experience of a lifetime. Also, this
time it was with my friends. I would like to thank everyone who helped us
out with our trip, especially Mrs. Schoeneck and Lee.
(Nicki Wesen) South Dakota was awesome, especially with your friends. We all learned things and got to know each other better. Thanks again Mrs. Schoeneck
( Kacie Grothen) I have never been so happy about a trip ever. A lot of people grew closer and enemies became friends. It was an honor to be a part of this great experience. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible.
(Bobby Schmidt) I think the trip was great from start to finish. We had a few bad things happen, but that doesn’t matter because we got through them and pulled together. We’re actually acting grown up and mature. I learned so much, but most importantly I learned what friendship really means, and how nice people can be. Thank you Mrs. Schoeneck for bringing us. Thank you Lee for all you’ve done.
(Drew “Mesk” Mesker) “Never Forgotten!”
This trip was great all around. From day 1 to day 5 we grew as individuals and as a class. It was magnificent. We’re all closer now. It was an experience that made memories and we brought them back. It was a step for our class.
(Dawn Terfehr) I think the trip made us as a group a lot closer and we learned a lot. It was the best week of school, not just because we were not at school, but because we had fun and learned at the same time. I hope that this trip will continue for a long time so that others can have the same experience.
(Anthony Noetzelman) This was by far the best field trip of my life! Since I was with my friends I never got bored, and we learned so much, and I’ll never forget it. Thanks all chaperones and especially Peter, Lee and Mrs. Schoeneck.
(Danielle Saude) South Dakota was the BOMB! It was an experience of a lifetime. I will never forget this trip and I am sure others won’t, as well. Not only did I learn more things about geology, but I learned more things about my classmates that I never knew before. It was a wonderful trip and thanks so much to all the chaperones and Mrs. Schoeneck for making this experience of a lifetime a memory that I will never forget.
(Samantha Lahman) We have lived the legacy for Peter! I never realized that our class could work together so well and have an awesome time. Not only did I learn so many new things about science, but I got to know the whole class better. I would truly like to thank everybody that helped make this a lifetime experience.
(Sarah Pomeranz) This is exactly what our grade needed to turn around or at least start on the right path in the right direction.
(Mark Horlocker -- Parent Chaperone) My participation in this trip was inspired by the desire to be a part of something very special for my son and his classmates, and to expand my own education by experiencing it inmass. I love field-based learning, and Marlene’s effort here borders on heroic. I have to admit this challenged me. I am a thinker and a solitude seeker; chances for both are rare on a trip like this. And yet, I witnessed the value of a group experience first hand. For that I am grateful. No doubt I learned as much as any of the eighth graders. I only hope my meager contributions justified my taking up a seat. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this.
(Barb Childers -- Instructor, Bowling Green State University)
(BGSU Rocks!) “I wish this ring had never come to me, I wish this had never happened” (Frodo)
“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for you to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time given to you!” (Gandalf)
– The Fellowship of the Ring
Any adventure is filled with anticipation, delight, joy, and challenges. This trip was no different. What impressed me the most were the challenges, especially the resolutions to such glitches. I have witnessed a class that when problems arose, vent their frustrations, then step up to the plate to make things right. They weren’t granted the power to go back in time to prevent the event, however they took the time they had and chose to use it for good. It has indeed been a privilege and an honor to be a part of this expedition of life.
(Steve Kreinke) I have never drank so much bottled water in my life! Because I moved here in January, I have not had the chance to really get to know the Parkers Prairie 8th graders. This trip gave me the chance not only to get to know them, but to witness some of the nations’ s finest attractions. We have seen so many things that most people can only see on T.V. or read in a book. Like I said in my speech for Peter’s memorial service, it’s not everyday a teacher packs up 40+ students on two buses and takes them to another state. And that’s not the only part that made this trip awesome. It is the people that shut their lives down for a week to join us. To Lorrie, Teresa, Julie, Steve, Joe, Mark, Larry, and Lee to the Bowling Green girls to the Morris people. Even the bus drivers were awesome. Every one of them was incredible. I especially got to know Barb Childers. She is a college instructor from Bowling Green. We were a lot alike, which may scare people because it is hard enough dealing with one of me! All through the week we were having a “war” in which we splashed each other with a lot of water. And as I am writing this, we just got done with a conversation that lasted over a half hour. Those are the kind of people that made this trip wonderful. I will speak on behalf of my class that this trip was unforgettable. And anyone who has ever doubted our class can dismiss their thoughts. We have pulled together like a true class. It is a new era for the class of 2008.
(Brandon Saude) From confused to stupid! Has Ha! I’m just kidding. It’s the other way around. I have learned so much more about tectonic movements and other ways rocks were formed. Way much easier learning this out in the field instead of a classroom. Don’t’ get me wrong, Mrs. Schoeneck tries hard for us to do actual investigations, and that DOES help, but this is much better. I hope the trip can carry on for many more years. Thanks Mrs. Schoeneck!
(Brittany Schmidt) South Dakota was great. I had so much fun and we went so many places and did so many things. It was great. I am going to miss doing so many things. It was awesome! We all had a great time and I would love to thank Mrs. Schoeneck, Lee Schmitt, the UMMers, chaperones, and the Bowling Green students. If it wasn’t for them and Peter we wouldn’t be here, so thank you very much. I love you all!
(Megan Westad) I think this trip has helped start to turn us around on the right path. Thank you so much!
(Kristina Kreidler) This trip has taught us all about rocks. I never knew how much rocks are really important to the world and you showed us that. Thank you Mrs. Schoeneck
(Claire Solberg) Like “Durt” says, “How many 8th grade students do you think can identify which way current goes by ripple marks in a rock, and know what cross-bedding is?” I know of 42. But this has taught me more than geology and ecology. We learned to work together and understand stuff better.
(Kellen Noga, a.k.a. K-Dog) I have been to South Dakota before and most of the places we went, but it seemed different with my class there. I’ve also met new friends here that I don’t think I would have ever met in my whole life and they are the nicest people I have ever met in my whole life. I have also found a whole lot of new heroes like Ryan (he is so awesome), Nic, and Dustin a.k.a. “Durt” who have changed my life. I have even thought about becoming a geologist when I am older because of the UMM students! This trip has changed our class so much. I would just like to thank Mrs. Schoeneck for going through with this trip. Thanks!
(Nicolas Buer -- UM-Morris Student) This has been a wonderful trip for all I hope. Things started off a little rough, but everything chilled and things went good. I could see the change in all the students from start to finish. I had a tremendous time getting to know the kids and I made many more friends amongst the BGSUers and the kids. Thanks to all the parents, BGSUers, parents, and fellow UMMers, Lee and Mrs. Schoeneck, and the students for making this trip happen.
Marlene, we can’t thank you enough for giving us this opportunity top be a part of something much larger than any one of us. It is an amazing feeling, knowing that young minds are being modeled after us. We love you, Marlene, and know that Peter would be the proudest of you – you made it happen. Thank you!
-- Love, Your UMMers
(Kristin Turchin, a.k.a. Yeah-Yeah) This trip has made me realize that life isn’t going to be easy and it has changed my life. It made me realize that not everyone who looks mean is mean at all and that our class can work together. This trip was the bomb and I have made new friends on this trip, too. Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible. I have had a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone.
(Chris Birkholz) It was the best week of school I’ve ever had. This is a great life experience. Swimming was so much fun. Our class has become closer than ever because of this trip.
(Andrew McDaniel) This trip is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I got to see things that I never saw before. Like Devil’s Gulch, Wind Cave National Park, and Lake Benton Wind Generators. The Dinosaur Museum was the best. We got to see the actual dinosaur bones, fossils, and crystal rocks instead of looking at fake plastic sculptures. I hope next year’s class and the classes after them get to go on this trip.
(Tim Hanson) This is the best trip I have ever had. I think this made of all of us closer, more mature. Thanks for all your work you put into this trip for us. Even though you were going through a hard time, you still did this for us and for Peter. Thanks. It meant a lot to me.
(Nathan Westad) Thank you Mrs. Schoeneck for all that you have done. Thanks to all the college students and Lee for on coming along with us to help Mrs. Schoeneck out. I think everybody learned a lot and had fun. Thanks to all the parents that came with us and for taking off of work for us.
(Cody Revering) I was so disappointed when we had to leave, but you know we did what we had to do. We had some hardships. We all did our jobs and some of us didn’t do the best, but we tried. A lot of people said this was going to be difficult, but it was fun and easy. Every site we went to had to have 10 observations. I got 25 everywhere I went. My group had to be the best. We had some fights and arguments on things, but we got things done. It had to be one of the best times I ever had. It was easy and fun. The only way you will have as much fun as I did is you would have to go on this trip. I learned a lot of things and there were a lot of things I didn’t understand, but the people were nice and explained what they were talking about. I think everyone should experience this for themselves. The only thing that stunk was by the second night I was so tired, but I stayed up the rest of the nights remaining.
(Andrea Scott -- Bowling Green State University Student) “Wow!” was the expression that came to mind as I read about last year’s Field Investigations Trip on the web. I also felt a little envy believing I would never have the opportunity to participate in such an experience – not just a trip. When Barb approached our class with the opportunity to partake in this experience, I knew it was one of a lifetime, and could not be passed up - and it was! The students were granted an opportunity to grow in several ways. They learned how to teach themselves – how to find questions and how to find answers. They also grew as a class. They went from laying blame, pointing fingers for problems, to finding and executing resolutions as a team. I learned a great deal by observing and interacting with the students, chaperones, and teachers on this trip. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and experience! I will miss everyone I’ve met!
(Julie Altiere -- Bowling Green State University Student) I may be an 8th grade science teacher when I graduate, so I came on this trip to learn and gain some experience. I got so much more out of this trip than I ever expected. Not only did I learn about geology and the dynamics of an 8th grade class, but also I learned a lot about myself and many of the students. It was a growing experience for me, as well as the 8th graders. It was amazing to see these students use teamwork, form closer friendships, and mature in front of my eyes. I am honored and thankful that I could be a part of this wonderful experience. I will miss everyone, but I wish you luck in all you do!
(Teresa Terfehr -- Parent Chaperone) Mrs. Schoeneck, thank you for letting me be a part of this awesome experience for the kids and all. You’ve shown us South Dakota in a way we would have never experienced it. I can’t imagine what an undertaking this has been for you, and to pull it off the way you did. It takes a lot of people to make it all happen, but you were definitely the core of the whole trip. It was nice to see everyone pull together and I saw it was a life changing experience for the kids and something they will never forget. Thank you so much for making this happen. You’re one of a kind.
(Emily Varney -- UM-Morris Student) Marlene, fhank you so much for such a wonderful opportunity! At the beginning of this trip, I felt perhaps I had made a mistake…that I didn’t belong. Now I am so happy I came. It has been a challenge, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. If it weren’t for Peter, I never would have met you or all of these great kids. I can see why he held you in such high regards. I feel lucky to have met you and gotten to know what an amazing person you are. It is so wonderful to have witnessed and been a part of the kids’ learning experience. Thank you doesn’t say it all, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
(Julie Saude -- Parent Chaperone) This trip was fantastic. Each place we went had its own beauty and uniqueness. I also learned a lot on this trip about geology and how various rock formations were formed. I guess you’re never too old to learn. This was such a great opportunity for the kids – one I am sure they’ll remember for years to come.
(Melanie Smith -- Bowling Green State University Student) I saw beautiful pieces of history, geology, and landscape, but the most magnificent sight that I witnessed was the evolution of an eighth grade class. Each student on this trip is a great and wonderful contribution to the human race. I have seen many young men and women become mature and aware of who they are and what they believe in. The intelligence of this class is impressive, but most importantly the heart of this class is an enigma. I am very proud and honored to have known each and every one of these students, not because I wanted an experience, but because I wanted a connection with several hearts. I thank all of you for allowing me to be a part of your experience, and most of all I thank you for permitting me to witness this extraordinary change in your character and future. You are all exceptional people and I will love, cherish, and miss every single one of you.
(Danielle Croy -- Bowling Green State University Student) Never did I ever expect in my wildest dreams to meet such a wonderful group of people, but I did. The kids, the UMMers, Marlene, Lee, the parents, and my fellow BGER's were great. I fell in love with every last one of you. I could never have asked for a better group to make me reconsider the path that I was taking in my collegiate career. At the beginning of this trip, I wanted to teach juniors and seniors in high school. Five days later, all I wanted was to teach junior high students. Parents who are reading this, thank you for allowing your children to go on this adventure. I have watched them grow and have seen a glimpse of who they are and will become in the future. They are and will always be wonderful individuals who have stolen my heart away. Marlene and Lee, thank you for being brave, always having a smile, and allowing me to share in this adventure. UMMers and BGERS, never have I met a group of people so unique and yet so devoted to educating people about the world that surrounds them. Kids, I miss you, love you, and wish you all the best in the great adventure called life. Take care. "D"
(Dustin "Durt" Olson -- U of M - Morris Student) I came along on the trip last year, not quite knowing what to expect. Peter had talked me into going along, and I decided it was worth a shot. The five days of the first field trip were truly magical. We watched the evolution of the human mind, from naivete to a deep appreciation and understanding to our surroundings and the world in which we live. Being able to teach kids like that, to see the proverbial light bulb come on, spurred me to come along again the next year. Clearly this year's trip was no exception. Those kids, or should I say young men and women, made me the proudest student teacher ever. The first few days were rocky (no pun intended!), but the last few were truly some magical phenomena. I am so proud of you all! You reaffirmed my belief that teaching out in the field is the best way to learn. You also showed me that nothing else would be a better occupation than teaching. I hope someday my students will be like all of you.
This trip has been a life-changing experience for us all. My life was changed forever from the friends I made, solidifying the foundations of the friendships I all ready had, and even being a big brother to the 8th graders. This trip has taught me to appreciate the finer things in life, the things that are only there for a fleeting moment before they are gone. I also learned to appreciate the human mind. It's amazing what kind of metamorphisis can happen in just five days! I am still in shock. I had a lot of fun teaching the kids a little about their environment, the very world that lives under their noses that very few people can learn to recognize and appreciate. Their eyes opened up around them and they were no longer oblivious or naiive to this dynamic planet.
Nothing will prevent me
from going on next year's trip. I will have great enjoyment teaching
next year's class about the places we've been to. I also expect to
see the same magic at work as what was done on this year's and last year's
class. I look forward to it! Finally I would like to thank everyone
who came along: Parent chaperones, you were awesome and I hope you
come back next year; Pam-- thank you for showing the whole world what
went on in our little part of the world during those five days last week;
Lee--thanks for your wonderful teaching using the "Lee Method " and hope
to see you back again next year; BGSUers: What can I say? You
changed me forever....; UMMers--no better group could have come along, hope
to see you all back next year! I love you all!; Marlene--wouldn't miss
this for the world; and finally Peter: Thank you for showing me the
world I live in, thank you for believing and having faith in me, and thank
you for showing me that there is nothing more fulfilling or rewarding than
teaching. I hope to become the professor that you were someday. I
had no better teacher for that! I miss everyone so much! Love you all!
-- Dustin Olson (Durt)
I think this trip actually pulled everyone together.
I really loved the trip and I think it made our class more mature.
Doing this was really cool. I wonder if the 7th graders will have this much fun.
This trip was really a cool experience.