News Release

Learning Abroad Opportunity in Galapagos Islands to Take U of M Crookston Students to Center of the World

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Crookston, Minn. - Students can travel the world as part of learning abroad and probably no place more exotic than the Galapagos Islands. One of the most requested places by students for a study abroad experience, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes under the leadership of associate professors Katy Chapman and Kristie Walker.

 The two bring expertise from different departments making this opportunity both interdisciplinary and varied. Chapman, who teaches environmental science in the Math, Science, and Technology Department and Walker, who teaches soils in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, conducted a site visit last summer in preparation to offer this exceptional trip.Turtle close-up

 “We visited one of the oldest open markets in Ecuador, watched turtles and sharks swim the ocean, and explored farms in one of the most unique ecosystems in the world,” says Walker. “Our site visit confirmed our expectation that visiting these islands would be one of the most powerful learning experiences we could offer students and certainly one that Katy and I found life changing.

 The Galapagos, part of the Republic of Ecuador, are a volcanic island chain located on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean.  The islands are known for their pervasive number of species making them a center for scientific research. Charles Darwin studied the Galapagos Islands on his second voyage of HMS Beagle and his observations and collections contributed to the foundations of his theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

 “Students will explore the diverse land and marine habitats that shelter Galapagos species as well as consider the importance of the islands today in modeling management of wildlife habitats and sustainable development,” says Chapman. “This opportunity for this kind of first-hand learning experience for our students will deepen their appreciation for our fragile environment and allow them an ocean clean up opportunity.”

 Turtle in natural habitatStudents interested in agriculture will find the islands’ rich volcanic soils growing avocado, cocoa, and custard apple farms, as well as roses. Marine life includes some of the most diverse and unique species on earth including the giant tortoise for which the islands are named.  

 Information sessions, offered through the end of October, will give students interested the chance to learn more about next summer’s trip and a course designed next spring will prepare for the experience.

 For more information on learning abroad, visit

 The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 35 bachelor's degree programs, 25 minors, and 40 areas of emphasis on campus as well as 16 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit


Elizabeth Tollefson 

University Relations


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