Make The Connection

An Icelandic Adventure

September 18, 2017 – by Gopika Nair ’18

Maddy Coalmer ’18 explores Iceland using an Ohio Wesleyan Theory-to-Practice Grant. She plans to pursue an advanced degree focusing on Society and the Environment.

Ohio Wesleyan Seniors Study Climate Change, Tourism in Nordic Country 

Haley Talbot-Wendlandt ’18 says conducting research in Iceland helped to think about incorporating geology field work into her graduate school plans and career.

Name: Maddy Coalmer ’18
Major: Geography
Minor: Psychology
Hometown: Canfield, Ohio

Name: Haley Talbot-Wendlandt ’18
Major: Geology
Minor: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Gaithersburg, Maryland

Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “The Effects of Climate Change and Tourism on the Icelandic Natural Landscape.” 

Coalmer and Talbot-Wendlandt traveled to Iceland for 13 days over the summer. Their goals were to travel the “Ring Road” and visit areas of high tourist interest to investigate land degradation and geological risks in these locations. Coalmer focused on land degradation and its relation to tourists and native Icelandic people, while Talbot-Wendlandt focused on geological aspects. 

Lessons Learned

Coalmer: “This Theory-to-Practice Grant trip to Iceland was an experience I find hard to explain. … It was one that has literally made me speechless because of the indescribable amount of information I have learned through the process. 

“I feel that this trip has helped me grow and develop as an individual, teaching me skills throughout the entire process: from writing and developing the proposal, to problem-solving financial issues in a different country with no cell service, to connecting with myself on a deeper level than one can imagine. 

“When sitting in a classroom, one can begin to stray away from how the theories taught can apply to real life. Through the Theory-to-Practice Grant program, a student is offered a firsthand chance to see that the concepts our professors teach really do help us succeed in life. 

“When I think about the positives of this trip, I can only begin to think about how it has helped me explore topics I would like to study in graduate school for my thesis, and even onto my doctoral dissertation. 

“Aside from academic and professional goals, this trip has offered me a new outlook on life. As a student, it is quite easy to get caught up in assignments and deadlines, yet this trip has taught me to observe the wonders around me. There are so many social and cultural aspects that play into our lives each and every moment that slip right under our noses, and once we pay attention to them, we can connect to our lives on a deeper level than before.” 

Talbot-Wendlandt: “I found that I learned and grew to a large degree throughout the experience, often in ways that weren’t exactly expected. This was my first time traveling to a foreign country without an older adult, like a family member or a professor in a Travel-Learning Course, taking charge of the trip. 

“First, just planning the trip and making an itinerary allowed me to take on more responsibilities, and while we were there, we both had to exercise decision-making skills about exactly where, when, and how we would do everything. ... 

“This trip also offered me the chance for academic growth. I encountered a type of extrusive rocks I hadn’t before, and was able to make meaningful interpretations by applying methods that I had previously learned about in classes. This pushed me to think more about field work in general, and specifically going to graduate school to make that part of my career. 

“Despite some pretty bad weather, it was a lot of fun doing field work, applying my knowledge, and just being outside seeing amazing things. It was especially rewarding studying with Madeleine; I was able to share my observations and interpretations to further enrich her experience of the rocks and resources, and she shared her observations with me to further enrich my experience of the landscape and the people we encountered.” 

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

Coalmer: “One of the reasons I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan was because of the travel opportunities. Throughout my years here, I have been extremely grateful to be selected for a Travel-Learning Course and this Theory-to-Practice Grant. 

“To me, learning involves work both inside and outside the classroom; when I was touring colleges, it was made apparent that OWU considers this to be of essence to the learning environment as well. When I stepped on OWU’s campus for the first time as a high school junior, I knew I had found home away from home.” 

Talbot-Wendlandt: “I was undecided, but wanted to maybe major in geology, environmental studies, astronomy, or genetics, and OWU was the only school with all these science majors. Also, I participated in the Schubert Scholar competition and received a good scholarship.” 

My Plans After Graduation

Coalmer: “After graduation in December, I plan to attend graduate school (Master’s and Ph.D.) with a focus on Society and the Environment. My studies will continue to look at the human-environment interactions. After graduate school, I hope to become a professor or work in park systems educating the youth about the importance of nature.” 

Talbot-Wendlandt: “Possibly grad school, but I’m not sure yet.”