Haggen Lends a Helping Hand to Western

By Frances Badgett

When WWU geology graduate student Emily Smoot plans a field trip for high school students, she knows one of the most important details is making sure everyone is well fed. For an outing earlier this year, Haggen Food & Pharmacy made sure those students had enough to eat by providing lunches, drinks, and plenty of snacks for a chilly day on the beach at Larrabee State Park.

“We took Burlington-Edison High School students to teach them about coastal geology,” says Smoot. The experience was a huge success. Western has joined many other universities across the country in a program called Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences. This field trip is part of the program and co-led with other graduate students.

Students learned how the sands uplifted to make bluffs, how beaches form, and explored creatures like crabs and anemones.

“It was so much fun. We studied the evidence for past glaciation in the scattered rocks and the students loved it,” Smoot said.

Smoot’s research is in the hydrology of the Stillaguamish River and how climate change affects the water levels and temperature. She worked closely with the Stillaguamish Tribe in her research, which she conducted under the mentorship of Bob Mitchell, professor of Geology at WWU.

“Bob had the Stillaguamish project laid out and planned, but he needed a student to see it through. And I was excited to do it.”

This geology field trip is the first of many at Western. There will be a second this winter led by the chemistry department and third during spring term. Haggen will be sponsoring these events as well.

If you are interested in learning more or helping with one of the upcoming events please contact Emily Smoot (smoote@wwu.edu).