A look at Campus Life at Various Community and Junior Colleges
The MPCC Rodeo Team is leading the region in the men’s team standings and is fifth in the women’s team standings. Pictured back row, left to right are: Lane Kennedy, Riley Weehler, Rhett O’Connor, J.W. Schroder, Hunter Baker, Shane Weber, Kaleb Fritz, Tyler Murray, Rowdy Moon, Chandler Comfort, and Tanner Freeman. Middle row, left to right: Coach Garrett Nokes, Trenton Solida, Garrett Wickett, Keaghan Gomes, Kevin Chavira, Sawyer Strand, Ryan Cox, Kris Rasmussen, Reece Weber, Garrett Heinert, Cord Hesseltine and Coach Dustin Elliott. Front row, left to right: Zach Huerta, Sam Elliott, Nate Bausch, Trey Engel, Wyatt Killion, Cyler Dowling, Shania Macomber, Kaylen Smith, Kaile Jacobson, Charmane Macomber and Mara Christian.
The Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team remains the number one men’s team in the Great Plains Region halfway into the 2016-17 season. MPCC rodeo team members scored a total of 2,032 points this fall in the men’s team category, giving them a strong lead over the school in second place, North Dakota’s Dickinson State University, which has 1,828 points. That puts MPCC seventh nationally in the men’s team standings. While the MPCC women’s team isn’t ranked nationally at this point, it is sitting fifth on the regional leaderboard with 520 points. Mid-Plains is also proving to be a tough act to follow in the individual standings. The college has the top bull rider in both the region and the nation in Garrett Wickett, of Norfolk, who rounded out the fall with 461.5 points. At the national level, only one and half points separate Wickett from the second in line, Jeffery Horner, who represents Iowa Central Community College.“Wickett has really matured this year,” said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. “He’s been riding good the last couple months, and the standings are showing it.”
The classroom consists of tall grasses, sand, water and turtles. As 10 students in Jessica DeGraff’s Wetlands Field Ecology class receive instructions about the day’s lab requirements, a research scientist passes out clipboards and buckets. For second-year students at Rowan College at Gloucester County (N.J.) it’s a rescue mission to save diamondback terrapins, a hands-on science lesson at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor. DeGraff, a biology professor who teaches the marine science degree program, has been incorporating the active field study into her courses for five years, and working with the Wetland Institute for a decade. Open to anyone interested in learning about the environment, the course provides a secure, solid background for all science students, not only those pursuing careers in marine science. RCGC is the only community college in New Jersey to offer an associate degree in marine science. Experts, such as Brian Williamson, a scientist at the Wetlands Institute, are dedicated and eager to share information about their research and conservation work. On a recent sunny, warm fall afternoon, Williamson explains the process of checking terrapin excluders to the students — a simple, inexpensive device invented by the Wetlands Institute that has saved thousands of terrapins from drowning in commercial crab traps since 1998. The future scientists investigate each excluder, on the lookout for new hatchlings as they document their findings. Over the years, human activities have endangered New Jersey diamondback terrapins. Loss of salt marsh habitat, pollution and coastal development have affected the sand dunes on barrier beach islands damaging their natural nesting habitat. Carnage of adult females crossing the road during the nesting season, which coincides with the start of the summer tourist season, kills between 500-700 terrapins each year. Tens of thousands of terrapins drown in commercial crab traps annually.