Over Spring Break, I went to San Salvador, Bahamas with my Tropical Island Ecology and Geology course. As an accounting major, I didn’t expect to enjoy learning about the ecology of San Salvador, but I did. In fact, I learned a lot more than I expected to. More specifically, I learned how to identify plants and other living organisms, all while staying next to a beautiful beach. While we talked about what we’d be researching in class, I greatly benefited from the hands-on experience. The overall purpose of our research project was to update the Gerace Research Center trail guide with more accurate information. Our group had a section of the trail that included a pond and a “mystery trail.” Overall, the research process went pretty smooth. We were able to identify many plants along the trail that had not been mentioned in the trail guide. We also confirmed that several aspects of the trail guide were correct. My favorite part of the research was going on the mystery trail, where we found the Underwater Cave, huge bromeliads, and fossilized coral.

As an accounting major, this trip really helped me to get out of my “accounting bubble.” When I came into this class, I was worried about how I would fare in a course where actual scientific research would be taking place. Taking this class really helped me to step outside of my comfort zone and realize that I can do a lot if I set my mind to it. The “hands-on” aspect of the course really helped me to learn the material. When my group went out on the trail after we had spent some time identifying plants, a lot of us were able to point out specific plants by sight, which I’ve never been able to do before.

My favorite part of the trip was being near the ocean. The Bahamas have pretty, crystal clear water. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen before. I also really enjoyed being on the island we went to—San Salvador—because it was so small. To put it into perspective, the island’s population is only 1200 people, which is approximately a tenth of the students enrolled at UTC. Because the island was so small, it was especially interesting to see how the native Bahamians lived their lives. Everyone I spoke to was so nice and welcoming. I truly felt like I was at home on the island.

Jordan Barnes is majoring in Accounting. She participated in a faculty led trip to the Bahamas during Spring Break, 2018. 

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