Hayes leads second annual marine biology trip during winter break

   One of Waynesburg University’s three main pillars is service, a facet of the University’s identity that is seen all across campus. Fiat Lux service projects, resident mentors serving via community initiatives and in this instance, service trips during the breaks. During the winter break, one of the trips that was offered was the Marine Conservation trip to A Rocha, a marine conservation program in Titusville, FL. 

     According to the program’s website, A Rocha USA work to, “Study, protect, and restore marine habitats and biodiversity, raise awareness of marine pollution, develop resources, and build capacity in support of coastal areas.” Dr. Christian Hayes, who serves as an assistant professor of biology, as well as the director of marine science for Waynesburg University, co-headed the trip alongside Dr. Professor Tracy Dohn Cummins. He spoke on the purpose of the trip and what the goal was for he and his students who attended. 

     “Our goal was to interact with the local community down there. Our common goal is to pursue community, pursuing caring for the earth as part of God’s mandate to us,” Hayes said, while elaborating on what the majority of the trip entailed. “We drove down there with the students and we did a number of different projects. One was looking at mole crabs, which is a common species you find along the beach, and looking at their population abundance, because they are important for fishermen, they are important for understanding biodiversity and for impacts of plastic, which was the second thing we were looking at, as we were looking at the long-term effects to understand the impacts of industrial plastic on the earth.

     Hayes summed up many of the areas of research and education focused on by A Rocha, which includes the aforementioned areas of biodiversity, horseshoe/mole crab monitoring, assessing marine biodiversity and faith and conservation focused tours as their website states. However, despite such a focus on marine biology for the trip, Hayes detailed how the trip from last year actually was co-lead with another professor not directly associated with marine biology.     “So I designed the trip. I came up with the idea for the trip with Agrienne Tharp over at the Center for Service Leadership. I envisioned this trip because I wanted these students to have this kind of opportunity. Last year I had Dr. Marissa Mendoza up at psychology who came with me as my colleague, last semester, it was Dr. Dohn expressed interest.” Hayes said.

     This is the second year the trip has ran, and in both years the trip had students who were not associated with marine biology, but Hayes indicated this did not lessen the experiences of the trip.

     “We definitely had students on the trip who were not biology majors. Last year for example, Dr. Mendoza’s son actually came, who is a business major. The majority for the students are in the sciences, but it covers a wide range. Pre-med majors, pharmaceutical science majors, the trip is open to anyone who is interested,” Hayes said.

     Waynesburg University hosts trips that incorporate service, as well as education during the winter, fall, spring and summer breaks that can range as local as staying in Waynesburg, to going as far as overseas. For those who are interested, information can be found on the University’s website, as well as the Center for Service Leadership on the first floor of the Stover Center.