The University of British Columbia has opened a new $2.4 million geological field station in the South Okanagan, aimed upgrading a decades-old tradition of learning.
UBC geology students have been attending field school in the Oliver area since the 1950s. The aging facilities have now been modernized, thanks to donations from UBC Science alumni and $1 million from Teck Resources Limited.
The location now includes a 400 square-metre teaching and dining facility, plus new staff and student quarters.
"The new UBC-Teck Geological Field Station will help build Canada’s skilled mining workforce of the future, while also supporting important research across the natural sciences,” said Don Lindsay, president and CEO of Teck.
“We are proud to support this new facility to provide critical hands-on learning experiences for future resource industry professionals.”
UBC students from multiple departments, including geography, forestry and atmospheric sciences will learn critical field skills in an exploration-style camp.
Every year, third and fourth-year students spend up to three weeks in the field at the station, learning geological mapping techniques.
"The Oliver field school is unlike any other geology field course in Canada, and our expanding program has outgrown the existing 70-year-old facilities,” said Dr. Ken Hickey, director of the UBC Oliver geology field school and assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.
“Geological mapping is the cornerstone of geology and competent field skills are critical to any successful professional geoscientist."
Past students praise their experience at the camp.
"The field school was the most relevant industrial geology experience I gained while at UBC,” said Quinton Wilms, who graduated in 2018.
“Not only did it incorporate everything we learned in the classroom into a field course, but more importantly taught life lessons like time management and personal adaptability when things didn’t go as planned.”
Construction of the field station began in December 2019, with the new facilities opening to students this spring.