Celebrating 50 Years of Jackson Hole Science Expedition

In a packed Main Lodge room of Teton Science Schools’ Kelly Campus, seven high school students weaved among a pantheon of Teton Science Schools founders, former participants, and supporters. The students positioned themselves and their favorite self-generated works at the front of the room, glanced at one another reassuringly, and eloquently introduced themselves and their programs. Three students represented Expressions in Nature and Art, and four represented Jackson Hole Science Expedition – programs that, have offered annual field-based summer programming for high school youth for the past 31 and 50 years, respectively. Each student stood, addressed the people who laid the foundation for their TSS experiences, and spoke about their program highlights and their own accomplishments. Some used their bodies to demonstrate an Old Faithful eruption, some displayed a favorite sketch or painting, and some exhibited their group’s field research project. All wrapped up the evening by shaking Ted Major’s hand, completing a 50-year circle from Teton Science Schools founder to its current students.

From the back of the room, as one of the graduate student instructors on the Jackson Hole Science Expedition’s 50th summer, I found myself wondering: What has persisted, here at TSS, over the course of those 50 years? Upon speaking with students and alumni, the answer came easily: the three pillars of TSS field education. Field Science Practices, Leadership in Community, and Connection to Place hold as true for today’s students as they do in the salient learnings of the TSS “pantheon.” In this blog, I’ve compiled some compelling evidence in support of this claim: student reflections on Jackson Hole Science Expedition 2017, notes from members of the “pantheon,” and scanned pieces of student work from JHSE 2017. Each student reflection is typed and in quotations, each pantheon note is hand-written in blue ink, and each scanned student work is rich in sketches and notes from the field. We feel that these artifacts of experience speak volumes to TSS’ three pillars, past and present. Please explore the evidence for yourself below, and happy 50th!

Field Science Practices

The research project empowered me the most. No science class in the past has ever taught me how to approach research, how to conduct it, and how to work with a team so well. Now, I feel more confident studying science.”

Leadership in Community

“Now I have a responsibility to not only walk away with something, but to implement things outside of this program.”

Connection to Place

“The idea of observation, looking around, and taking note of everything… teaches you to look at things differently. When you know flora, fauna, and geology, it connects you. You understand. Getting this connection is important because it’s often overlooked.”

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