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Summer and Fall Semester Recap

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022, Eagle, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Amelia Krause

Hey everyone! It has been a very busy start to the school year. The past summer I got to go to San Francisco which was exciting because I never have been to the West Coast. The mentorship there was great as everyone was patient in teaching us and eager to help us learn. I got to know my classmates better during my brief time there and on the Eagle as well. Both were great learning opportunities and time to build upon new friendships. My favorite part of Eagle was doing the swim call, which was an incredible experience I still can’t believe I did. The best way I can describe the water is a Gatorade blue and very salty of course!

Since it is my second year, I am taking more major-specific classes, which are marine biology and oceans. So far they are really interesting and the labs are fun as we get to go outside and do hands on work. I also take golf and badminton classes, which is a nice break during the day!

Running has also been awesome as it’s about the middle of the season and lots of improvement on the team. Some of us were able to compete at Harkness, which is our home meet. It's a flat course and familiar since its one of the places we do our off campus workouts. Even if you aren’t a runner I would recommend checking out the park as it’s a nice place to walk and a small beach as well.

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Ice, Ice Baby

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2019, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Deborah King

President’s Day weekend can only be described as one thing: awesome. I and eleven other cadets spent the weekend taking an American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) level one course. I took it in Gorham, New Hampshire with the Adventure Club.

The first day was in a classroom where we discussed case studies and different types of avalanches and scenarios. The second and third days were field days. On the second day, they took us to a trailhead and taught us how to use avalanche transceivers to find potential victims in the snow. They’d hide a transceiver in the snow and we’d work as a team to find it. We then hiked up the trail and made notes on the different types of snow.

The third day, we drove to Mt. Washington and Tuckerman’s Ravine trail. When we got to the ranger station, we went off trail into the backcountry. Here, we saw up close what avalanche terrain looked like and we practiced different ways of reading the snow to see if there was an avalanche danger. It was snowing the entire time and the view was absolutely stunning.

Looking back, this was by far one of the best experiences at the Academy. It was amazing how much of my Academy education translated over into avalanche science. One of the biggest examples was the use of teamwork during the search and rescue drills. By the end of the session, we were able to find the lost transceiver in less than three minutes, well below the expected time. Other aspects of Academy life transferred over such as making a detailed plan for hiking, risk assessment, and physical fitness.

The biggest thing I learned is that there is so much more to learn about snow. Growing up in Colorado and snowshoeing for the majority of my life, I thought I knew everything there was to know about it. What I found is that it is so much more complex then I previously thought and that in itself was very humbling. That being said, I want to know more about how to read the mountains. Speaking to some of the guides who have been skiing for decades, they said that there is always more to learn, but instead of being discouraged by that, they use it as motivation to keep working and improving their art.

In a few months, I will be going to the fleet and I will have much to learn. However, like with avalanche training, I will use it as a starting point for basic knowledge so that I can do my best in the fleet.

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Selecting a Major: Marine and Environmental Sciences

(Academics, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Deborah King

The academic majors offered at USCGA are of critical importance to properly supplying the United States Coast Guard with officers that are prepared to serve in a demanding environment. The goal at USCGA is to graduate and commission an evenly distributed number of officers in each academic major every year. It is essential that CGA applicants carefully examine their desires and do research when expressing their original intent for a major.

I am a Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) major with a focus on chemical and physical sciences. I knew I wanted to be an MES major since I applied because I love the outdoors and wanted to learn more about it. In high school, I took AP Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. Even though I did not earn college credit for the AP classes, the rigor was worth it to prepare me for science at the Academy. I was fortunate enough to validate Chemistry 1 and 2 at the Academy, giving me more options in the major. As of now, I am also taking botany classes at Connecticut College because of my interest in forestry.

I spend about two hours plus a night on major-specific studying. The best part of the major has to be the field trips and field work. It’s cool to be exposed the information in the classroom, but it’s better to see science in action at the aquarium, beach, or in and around the Thames River. The most difficult part of the major is the math and programming portions for Waves and Tides. I did not expect as much math as there is, though it’s mostly in the physical oceanography portion. If I were to give advice to someone considering my major, I would say that MES is one of the most tactile and rewarding academic programs. There are difficult semesters, but nothing beats hands-on learning.

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Choosing Marine and Environmental Sciences as a Major

(Academics, Class of 2020, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Jacqueline Jones

I am a Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) major here at the Academy. I chose my major because I was originally interested in biochemistry and the Marine and Environmental Sciences program is most closely related. There are three tracks in the major; Physical Oceanography, Biological Environmental Science, and Chemical Environmental Science. I had to choose two tracks, so the most obvious ones for me where the biological and chemical, where I am taking classes such as organic chemistry, fisheries biology, marine biology, and meteorology. Personally, organic chemistry is my favorite subject; however, the field trips in the other classes made them equally enjoyable. The most frequent field trips being to the Mystic Aquarium and out on the R/V Michael J. Greeley, a research vessel for cadets.

The most difficult portion of the major are the prerequisites. I love science, but I am not a math person at all so luckily the professors in the math department are amazing and were there to help me every step of the way. There were a lot of long nights working with the professors who stay late about once a week to help students catch up on material that they may be struggling with or those that just want extra practice. I would have had a much harder time getting through calculus, multi-variable calculus, and differential equations, if it were not for the resources available to me. Now, I only need to get through probability and statistics next semester and I am done with math requirements for my major! If you are interested in learning more about major-specific requirements, check out the Marine and Environmental Sciences page on the Academy website. I did a lot of researching on the page looking at not only the major requirements, but also cadet blogs like this one (I hope it helps). I also stayed for an overnight visit with a cadet in my major so that I could ask more questions.

In the end, I chose this major because of all the career possibilities inside and outside the Coast Guard. In high school, I had the opportunity to intern at research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Agriculture. I loved both of those internships and I found that I would love to work in environmental response while in the Coast Guard, and environmental health or environmental justice when I get out of the Coast Guard. My major allows me to take a few electives that I believe will help me learn more about this path. As of now, my electives are microeconomics and emergency management. Next year, I hope to take public policy and environmental policy.

Besides the classes and the field trips, the best part of my major are definitely the professors and my classmates. All of the professors are passionate in what they do. So, if you are thinking about the Marine and Environmental Sciences major, I am here to tell you that it is the way to go, but do your research and see if it is the right fit for you.

MORE ABOUT JACQUELINE

Whale That Was Fun! An Admissions Trip to Sitka, Alaska

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link

Well, here I am back at the Coast Guard Academy after an amazing weekend in (you’ll never guess it) SITKA, ALASKA!! How lucky am I, right?! Well, as some of you may know I had an internship this summer through the Marine Sciences department at the Sitka Sound Science Center in Sitka, Alaska, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion and naturally I wanted to go back. Lucky for me, our internship invited us back to Sitka for a weekend in November for the annual Whale Festival, or Whalefest. Whalefest is a four-day event full of research symposium presentations, scientific talks, a film night, wildlife tours, concerts, and much more! Of course we simply had to go, but we weren’t sure how we would get the funding so I did a little bit of research. As fate may have it, on the Friday before Whalefest weekend, the University of Alaska Southeast, along with the Science Center, was hosting the National Ocean Science Bowl competition right there in Sitka. This is a competition where high schoolers from all over the state (even the country) come to compete in a trivia style competition with questions solely focused on our ocean environment. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do a little recruiting so I talked to Admissions and pitched my idea and BAM! It worked, we were going back to Alaska!!

I know it seems crazy to fly all the way across the country for the weekend, but it was definitely worth it. We arrived Thursday night just in time to have dinner with all our friends from Sitka. Then, Friday we volunteered at the Science Bowl competition all day! I was wearing my favorite Coast Guard Academy lacrosse shirt (had to represent!) and talking to the high school students about the Academy every chance I got! After that, we got to attend some of the scientific talks and experience Whalefest, which was a blast! On Saturday morning, we donned our very professional Service Dress Blue uniforms and gave an hour long presentation to the community and the high schoolers from the Ocean Bowl about the Academy and the admissions process. Our presentation was a huge success and people were asking lots of great questions (they also loved the Bears backpacks, brochures, and pens we handed out as well). After the presentation we explored the festival some more and soaked up the beautiful (rare) sunshine that was shining down on Sitka that weekend. On Sunday, I went out in a little skiff with some friends and got to see the humpback whales bubble net feeding and breaching out of the water! It was absolutely incredible (and a tiny bit scary) to see these massive and majestic animals so close to us! Overall, the weekend was absolutely amazing and I am beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to go. I will never be able to thank the Coast Guard enough for the opportunities it has given me to learn, travel, explore and experience the world.

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A Summer Blog from the Last Frontier

(Just for Fun, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link

Greetings from Sitka, Alaska, the most beautiful (and rainiest) place on Earth! I know it’s been a little while since my last blog, but this summer has been a whirlwind of exciting travel and new experiences. This past spring I arrived to my first unit, the great Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro in Kodiak, Alaska. Kodiak was very cold, very rugged, and very beautiful. Life on the cutter was a unique and interesting experience. The cutter is a 378 foot high endurance cutter that patrols the Bearing Sea and over to Japan. While on board we got to live the junior officer life, helping out with the cutter’s Change of Command ceremony, morale events, preparations to get underway, and much, much more.

After Kodiak, I flew to southeast Alaska to a tiny island town called Sitka for the second half of my summer program. Here in Sitka, I live at the Coast Guard Air Station and work at the Sitka Sound Science Center through an internship provided to me through my major at the Academy (Marine and Environmental Sciences). At the Science Center, myself and the other Academy intern, are working on various research projects, while getting involved in the local community and volunteering at other center’s camps and events. Our time here in Sitka so far has been a blast! Our primary research here has been conducting shellfish surveys for the local tribe in an area crucial for subsistence clamming. We are very excited to be wrapping up this work and have put together a wonderful presentation on the Academy and our time here in Sitka, as well as the results from our surveys and the rest of our research to present to the community tonight at the public library.

I have gone hiking, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, sightseeing, and much more during my time here at the internship. I have seen the most beautiful mountains, sunsets, and wildlife such as eagles, bears and whales! Alaska is such an incredible and amazing place (with the best fresh fish available anywhere) and I would highly recommend visiting! If you are at all interested in the Science Center or the internship you can find us online on Facebook, Instagram or at our website: www.SitkaScience.org :)

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Crunch Time and Thanksgiving

(Academics, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Well, it is finally that time of year again and I can’t wait! Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. I can’t wait to finally relax, see all of my family, and of course eat Thanksgiving food; but before the holiday leave period rolls around we have a couple weeks of crunch time. That is when, all of the sudden, you are just overwhelmed with major projects, tests, and papers that the teachers have to squeeze into their class schedules before Thanksgiving leave. This week has been a total whirlwind and I still have two days left to get through before leave. It has been especially hard now that a lot have my friends have already gone home early on recruiting leave, Chase Hall feels a little extra lonely and quiet. Plus they also love to send me pictures of them relaxing at home or with the new Starbucks holiday drinks in their fun fall civilian outfits, how insensitive! Just kidding really, we’re all just a little antsy to get home to our families.

I am very lucky to live so close to the Academy, but since some of my classmates aren’t as lucky they can’t travel home for this holiday. I always extend an open invitation to anyone who can’t go home for Thanksgiving; no one should miss out on the good food in my opinion. Now, the only thing standing in the way of me and that turkey is a five-page paper on the subject of a world without mangrove forest habitats in Southeast Asia for my fisheries biology class and a massive rough draft poster presentation for our marine GIS project (or geospatial information systems). For our GIS project we are correlating NOAA sighting data of right whales to the acoustic detections of the DMON buoy located off of Martha’s Vineyard that I have been working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on for my directed study as well. The importance of the project is crucial for the conservation of the species and will be presented to District 1 and hopefully Headquarters so that the Coast Guard will take on the buoy project and continue with this valuable research. The whole project is very interesting, but also very complicated so it has taken a ton of focus, research, calculations, and mapping to put it all together so far. Anyway, I should probably get back to working on that… Happy almost Thanksgiving everyone!

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[MES]sing Around

(Academics, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Hello everyone and happy fall! I wanted to take this opportunity to blog about my major (the best major) here at the Academy and that is MES or Marine and Environmental Sciences. Within my major, I focus on two of the three intended tracks which are biology, physical oceanography and chemistry (I study biology and physical oceanography). I may be a little bit biased but I promise I am not exaggerating when I say that MES majors have the most fun at the Academy. We are constantly in the labs doing hands-on dissections, or out trawling for fish on the Thames River. Any other major will admit that they are jealous of the countless field trips we have to the beach, the Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, or the Mystic Aquarium. I also find that learning about the environment that we will be operating in and around as officers is not only beneficial, but absolutely essential to our futures.

The one thing about being an MES major that makes me a little bit different is my directed study program, which goes on outside of class. My directed study is focused on stress physiology in marine mammals. More specifically I am working with Mystic Aquarium to determine if saliva samples collected from the exhale of whales will be indicative of stress levels present in hormones like cortisol and aldosterone that are present in blood samples. Every Thursday afternoon I head over to the aquarium’s labs located on the UCONN Avery Point Campus in Groton, Connecticut. At the labs, I work on a variety of tasks for the project including the analysis of samples (from 9 different Beluga whales captured and released in Bristol Bay, Alaska) in the flow cytometer; as well as archiving blood samples from past veterinary records for the Belugas at the aquarium along with stranded animals that the aquarium has rehabilitated or blood samples received for other studies. Along with my lab work, I also get to travel over to the aquarium to collect the actual samples as well, which involves working with the whales, always an absolute dream come true!!

Along with my work with the Aquarium, I also work with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) out on Cape Cod. WHOI currently has a buoy deployed off of Martha’s Vineyard that contains a hydrophone and satellite system to record and transmit noise picked up in the vicinity. The noise we are looking for is whale calls. Based on the songs the buoy hears, we can identify the species of the whale in the area, which is especially important for the conservation efforts of the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The website designed and created by WHOI is in the process of being turned over to me and a couple cadets for constant analysis and publication regarding the resulting species in the area.

Another thing I was lucky enough to participate in this past summer, which was associated with my major, was the discovery of the S.S. Coast Trader, a shipwreck off the coast of Vancouver, along with the team at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and on the Nautilus (a research vessel operated by the graduate school at URI). There is so much more I could say about my major, but I know no one has the time to read all that. Anyway, in conclusion, I could not be any happier with my major and the incredible opportunities I’ve had thus far here at the Academy. I will continue to happily [MES]s around here at school with my fish, my whales, and of course my homework and I hope to keep you all updated! Don’t hesitate to email me with any and all questions.

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