TNCC Students Explore Shenandoah National Park During Virginia’s Geological Field Conference

Published: November 2, 2009

HAMPTON, Va. — Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) Geology students supplemented their in-class lessons with a hands-on look at geology during the Virginia Geological Field Conference October 2 – 3 at Shenandoah National Park. The conference is held in a different region of Virginia each year and gives students a first-hand look at the geology the Commonwealth has to offer. TNCC students first attended the conference in 2007 when it was held in Williamsburg. Last year, the conference was held in Marion, Va.

Geology Instructor and Department Head Peter Berquist accompanies the students each year and says it’s an invaluable experience. “Students who have participated in these trips in the past always refer back to these field trips throughout the semester, recalling when they saw a certain rock or fossil or discussing an important geologic process or event. These experiences clearly stick with the students and provide them with their own frame of reference to which they can incorporate course content,” Berquist said.

TNCC student Lindsey Gaines was amazed by the rocks she found in the Blue Ridge area during the trip. “There are rocks in the Blue Ridge area that are the same rocks found in the continental slope and in the tidal region on the ocean. This proves that the ocean used to be as far up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Major continental shift pushed the crust up creating mountains and so the water was pushed back to where it is today,” she said.

Each year, the conference gives students the opportunity to exchange ideas with geology students from other two and four-year institutions. They also use the time to work with professional geologists and meet professors from four-year colleges that they may be interested in transferring to after completing their work at TNCC. “This networking opportunity has been very exciting to witness, and only affirms to me the important role that TNCC plays in adequately and competitively preparing our students to transfer onto four-year institutions,” Berquist said.

Gaines, who plans to transfer to the University of North Carolina Wilmington, says she benefited greatly from the experience. “I gained a weekend full of valuable information that I could never learn just sitting in class. I would definitely recommend this conference to students. I had a blast,” she said.


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