Nearly 40 years have elapsed since Ken Norris led the first group of Field Quarter students into the field in 1973. That makes it possible for members of the 2012 group to be the grandchildren of the early-70s pioneers (a sobering thought for us old-timers). But in spite of being members of very different generations, all the folks who have participated in Natural History Field Quarter have much they share in common. It’s not just the initial trip to the Granites, the ritual of presentations, borrowing books from the Parnassus, and the Hokey Pokey—it’s the unique ethos Ken Norris brought to Field Quarter, which Steve Gliessman and Breck Tyler have lovingly nurtured and renewed every spring since Ken retired from teaching.
After talking about it for years, we are finally organizing an event at which we can come together to celebrate what holds us together, renew old friendships, meet the folks who have come before us and after us, and honor the nearly four-decade existence of Field Quarter.
What has spurred us to act is Steve Gliessman’s retirement. After 30 years of teaching—and protecting Field Quarter from many threats—Steve is stepping aside to devote his time to his many other interests, and Field Quarter 2012 will be his last. That makes this Spring a perfect time to celebrate Steve’s multi-faceted career and recognize his service to Field Quarter. It’s also a time of reckoning—when we decide, collectively, whether Field Quarter will continue beyond Steve’s active tenure at UCSC.
It comes down to money. With the university in deep and probably long-term fiscal crisis, it falls upon us Field Quarter alumni and other "friends of Field Quarter" to provide the financial support needed to keep NHFQ going. Luckily, we begin our fundraising efforts on a firm footing: an anonymous donor has dedicated up to $100,000 in matching donations, and the university has set up two funds to which you can contribute—an endowment for experiential, field-based learning that will generate long-term funding for Natural History Field Quarter, and a current-use fund that will support Field Quarter during the next two or three years.
Take a moment to reflect on what Field Quarter meant to you and how it changed your life and then imagine future UCSC students (perhaps even your kids and grandkids) being denied that experience. If that prospect saddens and angers you, recognize that you can do something about it. We will be asking for donations on April 28, but you can make your gift in support of Field Quarter at any time with your mouse and credit card. For the links and more information, go to the sustaining Field Quarter page.
For the uninitiated: What is Field Quarter?