Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Lassen High School Biology Field Trip

Dinner with Lassen County friends the other night proved to be something of an eye-opener for me regarding the profound effect some individuals in this community have had on the teaching of biology at the local high school. One of the major efforts touted locally is the Biology Field Trip taken by high school sophomore biology class students each year. This trip involves taking students to the California coast for a week of camping and presumably studying biology. However, it has historically been lead by individuals with strong ties to the Christian community here in Lassen County. I have been on the field trip as a parent helper and have largely given those involved the benefit of the doubt with regard to their motivations for participating in the field trip, although it was clear that religion is more a driving force than science for many of those involved. My friends all had personal experience with the event and referred to it not as the “Biology” field trip but the “Evangelical” field trip. Stories of proselytizing efforts on the part of the staff, parent volunteers and some students were relayed. I have also received email messages from former LHS students who have suggested their biology training was minimal at best, but the emphasis on evangelism was first-rate...

Recently the LHS biology staff has turned over and hopefully the biology field trip will focus less on personal evangelization and more on actual biology. I know most of the current staff and I am confident this will be the case. I have also offered to take a more active role in both the field trip and as a consultant in my own areas of science expertise. Regardless, after the other night’s conversations with many long time residents of the county who have personally witnessed the non-science shenanigans of some associated with the field trip, I will be paying more attention than I have of late.


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