BSC students say river trips build connections

Photo: group looking for manatees

Photo: Students on trip pointing to a manatee Pointing out a manatee as it passes underneath their kayaks, from the left, are Bainbridge State College student Jay Spears of Bainbridge; instructor Barry Reynolds, who is taking underwater photos of the manatee; and students Allyson Walker and Sara Beth Pelham, both of Bainbridge.

Photo: Group on riverPhoto of Steven CrowellPhoto: student on riverPhoto: student with paddleKori Odum of Cairo never thought a kayaking trip with her classmates and several Bainbridge State College faculty and staff members would help her with her organic chemistry class.

But it has, said the pre-veterinary University of Georgia in Athens senior. She is taking organic chemistry at Bainbridge State during the summer. Instead of sitting in a lecture hall with 300 students, her organic chemistry class is different. Different perhaps because her professor, Dr. Eric Dueno, led a group of about a dozen students down the Wakulla River on Friday, June 21, as part of a kayak and canoe club’s outing.

“I feel he’s trying to connect with the students some,” Odum said. “He’s trying to get to know them outside of the class.”

Along the approximately seven-mile trip, the students paddled next to manatees, an endangered marine mammal that populate this river located south of Tallahassee, Fla. Also along it, there was casual conversation among the students, other faculty members and with Dr. Dueno. There was even some conversation about chemistry.

Fellow classmate and kayaker, Haley Ethredge of Donalsonville, had the same sentiments.

The pre-pharmacy student at the University of Georgia is also taking Dr. Dueno’s organic chemistry class this summer. Even though the class materials are the same as they are at UGA, the challenge of the class is less because there is more one-on-one with her classmates and, more importantly, her professor.

“It’s something totally different than I would have done in Athens,” Ethredge said. “The class is still challenging, but there’s more one-on-one time. I’ve gotten to know my classmates a lot more in the smaller class.”

The college’s canoe and kayak club schedules about three trips to area rivers or creeks each semester.

Dr. Dueno said his connections with students are not just for those students in his class. All Bainbridge State students are invited, no matter what the skill level.

“These trips are great opportunities for students to connect with each other, other Bainbridge State faculty and staff members, and also connect with nature,” Dr. Dueno said. “The trips are also a great way for students to learn a new hobby and enjoy a little exercise.”

Dr. Dueno said Bainbridge State student Steven Crowell struggled with maneuvering a canoe on his first trip, but is a real pro with one now after Dr. Dueno and other instructors worked with him on his technique.

Despite the challenge of maneuvering a canoe in the beginning, Crowell said he enjoys the trips and the Wakulla River outing was his third.

“I get to see a lot and relax,” Crowell said.

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