Students from UWF blaze a familiar trail

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

On June 30, public history students from the University of West Florida (UWF) embarked on a 27-day journey to retrace the footsteps of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark. Led by Professor Patrick Moore, the 16 students will traverse and explore about 6,620 miles and 19 states.

Moore and a group of students have been embarking on these types of journeys since 2001.

“The experience is truly once-in-a-lifetime,” said Moore.

The expedition began in St. Louis, Mo., where the original Lewis and Clark discovery took place. After that, the students visit such remarkable sights as Lewis and Clark State Park in Missouri, Independence Park in Kansas and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The group will also spend three days rafting on the Salmon River, just as Lewis and Clark did more than 200 years ago.

“The trip so far has been quite insightful,” said Spencer Andrade, a first year graduate student at UWF. “Everything is so stunningly beautiful. The way the information has been presented helps build skills that a public historian would find valuable.”

Andrade went on to say that he has always been infatuated with the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, but never knew much about it.

The trip is for academic credit, so students are responsible for uploading their professional-quality podcasts about the trip and insights on the west into the Next Exit History system.

“Each student is assigned different places to study, research and write,” said Jonathan Harwood, a second year graduate student. “We create content modules for history so that others can go on the trip and gain an understanding into what we learned. We spend a lot of the classroom time honing our skills; then, when we’re actually on the road, we get a different idea of how things work in the real world.”

Students from all majors are welcome to sign up for the course, and many do, including Kelcie Lloyd, a first year graduate student. The 2012 trip is her third.

“I really like experiencing America as it would have been when Lewis and Clark were here,” said Lloyd. “I’m enjoying the outdoor activities. I’ve seen some amazing sites I’ve never seen before.”

Not all the students are graduate students. Jennifer Oelschlager is a senior majoring in history.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing how different people display history, especially in the Southwest,” said Oelschlager. “I appreciate the opportunity to meet and network with professionals, as well.”

“I believe that students benefit most from the chance to learn things it is impossible to learn in the classroom,” said Moore. “They meet with professionals who actually work in the field and will take back several educational lessons.”

To follow the group on their journey, visit http://www.facebook.com/CorpsofDiscovery3.

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