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Hands-on experience is key to students' success

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Category: academics Video duration: Hands-on experience is key to students' success
Professor Mike Aust and students from his Forested Wetlands class recognize the importance of experiential learning. "This is the only way," said Aust. "They do not learn these types of skills well, unless you actually have hands-on learning." 
This is the forested wetlands class. Most of the people in here are environmental resource management or environmental science. We're working in an active floodplain and they are looking at microtopography. I've got the crews in different microtopographic positions and they're going to look at the effect of just subtle changes in topography on the soil profiles. We're extracting soil samples. And depending on the color, the texture, the water content of the soil, we can determine, often the soil is inundated with water and determine if it is in fact a wetland. Okay. There's multiple reasons that people care about wildlands. The two big things, they're really important for the protection of water quality and they're also very important in wildlife habitat. If I have learned anything from being now a senior in scenery is that as much as I've tried to read up on stuff myself, whether it's identifying plants or anything like that, it just never sticks unless you're out here doing it, seeing it, touching it, interacting with it. You can look at all the pictures of soil in a tray, but it's not the same as texturing it with your own two hands. I've been here 34 years and I think this is the best job in the world. I really enjoy it. I'm half teaching, half research, and I really like that mix. I like having that research component because I can bring new things to the classroom. I'm not still teaching the same thing I was 35 years ago, but also like working with the students. I feel like if we can teach them to do things just a little bit differently than they can have a huge impact.