MODs and the Migration Back to New Haven
The third week of school has just ended. Courses are finally (mostly) sorted out, and people are getting back into the swing of F&ES life here on campus. For half of us, we’ve returned from summers interning at various organizations across the country and globe, ready to finish our final year for our masters’ degrees.
The other half of us is new to the school and New Haven. Before classes started, all first years participated in the school’s introductory “summer modules,” or MODs for short. Each week for three weeks, new students take a different class based in different parts of Connecticut. There is an urban MOD, hosted by students in New Haven who study urban planning, water and forestry issues. Another is hosted at Yale-Myers Forest, a Yale-owned forest in Northeastern CT. During their time in the woods, students learn about scientific methodology to study forest stands and rivers, as well as gain a basic understanding of sustainable harvesting methods.
I had the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant (TA) at the final MOD, hosted at a Yale camp in the Great Mountain Forest, located in Northwestern CT. At this MOD, we train students to navigate their way through the forest using compasses and their personal pace. New students participate in the “long hike,” in which they use their navigation tools to get back to camp from an unknown point in the forest. It’s a challenging and fun way to build teamwork skills and enjoy the beautiful landscape.
MODs is a fantastic program because new students are introduced to their cohort in a way that is both structured and relaxed. Folks get to know each other while exploring the woods or biking through New Haven. It also represents the year to come: hard work with wonderful people, each with very different capabilities and past experiences.
I had an amazing experience TA-ing in the forest. I got to meet every new F&ES student starting their first year at the school, many of whom I had spent time working with during their application processes. It was a rewarding experience to see some of these folks come completely full-circle; I met them during their first tour around campus, I answered their questions while they were writing their applications, and I tried to help them choose to come to our school once they were accepted.