• Olivia Stam

BCU Students Join Dr. Brian Hazlett on Galápagos Islands Trip

Many college students envision the perfect holiday break as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, take a break from first semester classes and catch up on sleep. While others watched the snow fall from their windows, two Briar Cliff Environmental Science and Biology Major students, Taylor Lamprecht and Tess Lord, had a different experience as they tagged along with Dr. Brian Hazlett on what would be his fifth trip to the Galápagos Islands.

After boarding a plane at Omaha International Airport and enduring a long nine hours of travel, Dr. Hazlett, Lamprecht, and a group of Sioux City residents landed in Quito, Ecuador, where they converged with a group from Viterbo College, a school located in Wisconsin. They spent two nights in the Bella Vista Cloud Forest which rests between the Andes Mountains. They were able to study the wide variety of insects and wildlife that inhabit the area. The group also had the opportunity to feed the 130 different species of hummingbirds that nest there.

The group then arrived in the Galapagos Islands, where they spent the remainder of their trip. They visited 5 of the 13 Islands and enjoyed an abundance of outdoor activities. Lamprecht noted that she really enjoyed hiking, and her personal favorite activity was snorkeling, as her career interest is in the marine field. During these excursions, she was able to swim among sea turtles, rays, a sea lion, a marine iguana, and witness the threatened Galapagos Tortoise in its natural habitat.

“They were super majestic and peaceful animals,” Lamprecht said. “It was super cool to see them when you can’t really see them anywhere else.”

Both Dr. Hazlett and Lamprecht mentioned that with an extra day on the trip, they would have loved to see the flightless cormorant, which is a bird in the midst of an evolutionary stage, as it has lost its wings due to repetitive diving for fish. Since there was an arranged itinerary, the group was unable to visit the west side of the island where the birds live.

Despite not seeing the cormorants, the trip was still very successful and educational. With this being Hazlett’s fifth trip, he noted that he always learns something new on each visit, and hopes to teach his students the value of studying wildlife.

Hazlett included that he hoped his students would “embrace the change that the trip brings.”

The ability to share his knowledge and expertise with others had a great impact on the students that experienced the Galápagos Islands for the first time.

“The trip made me realize how much more there is to life, and it [the trip] was just a glimpse of what I could see.” Lamprecht said, “It makes me want to continue to explore and learn.”

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