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Chevron Gift Restores Lehigh’s EES Field Camp

Each summer from 1975 to 2013, aspiring geoscientists and environmental scientists have departed South Mountain and ventured West, convening a classroom caravan to the nation’s most majestic national parks. Participating in Lehigh’s Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) Field Camp program, they studied in places with names like Badlands, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, and Crater of the Moon and learned skills vital in the geology industry. For many, the more than month-long program began the process for these students to launch their careers and become leaders in the field.

After 39 consecutive years, the camp ended in 2013 due to budgetary restraints, but with a generous $309,000 gift from Chevron, the camp will now operate for three more years with a new full-time director as a professor of practice in the EES department. The camp curricula is being redesigned with different venues and a greater emphasis on developing electronic mapping skills.

Chevron committed to support the EES Field Camp as a second-to-none experience after discussions with university leadership and staff in the Corporate and Foundation Relations department.

Representatives from the corporation visited campus and saw numerous areas of mutual interest. While conversations revealed broad opportunities for impact, including the addition of Lehigh to their University Partnership Program, Chevron’s first priority was to support the EES Field Camp.

“Our goal is to provide the best possible field experience, attracting the brightest students to the geosciences and equipping them with the experiences and skills to meet global energy and environmental challenges,” said Dave Anastasio, EES department chair. “Chevron realizes the importance of sustaining field experience programs in the development of new leaders in the industry.”

The camp has educated students not only from Lehigh, but 74 different colleges from across the country. Throughout its history, many students have received scholarships through generous alumni support like the Vic Johnson Field Camp Scholarship Fund. More than 2,000 students have participated, embracing Mother Nature’s zest for the unexpected, braving the elements, and working through summer snow, rain, wind, mud, intense heat, and life in an outdoor laboratory that led each of them to know more intimately the earth and the processes that continue to shape it.

- Sam Hopp