High School Course

Introduction to Field Biology

This course is for High School students and recent High School graduates.  This course is offered as a partnership between the Gunnison School District and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Dates:  July 24-Aug.4, 2023

Length of time:  2 weeks, Mon-Fri at least 9-5:00 with 1-2 evening sessions and one early morning session. On-site housing is not available.  Students must make their own arrangements to live off-site.

Course Description:  The goal of this course is to teach the process of conducting biological research in the natural world.  Course activities include making natural history observations, asking research questions, and working with scientists on topics as diverse as plant biology, pollination, stream ecology, and animal behavior.  Students will work individually or in small groups to conduct their own research projects under the guidance of instructors. Students will have access to modern scientific equipment, including GEOXT GPS units and GIS software, drying ovens, microbalances, and a microscope/camera set-up.

Class size: 13 students.


Instructor: The high school instructor will teach the course, in collaboration with Dr. Jill Anderson and other RMBL scientists.

Pre-Requisites:  One year of HS biology, except by permission of the instructor.

High School Credit: We expect that students will be able to earn 1/2 year
(one semester) science credit in the Gunnison Watershed School District.  For credit to be earned, participant must attend all class times and complete daily science journal assignments as well as their final research project.

College Credit: Students can register for up to two credits of college biology through Western State Colorado University.  There is a small additional fee in order to receive college credit.  Students must fill out WSCU registration forms BEFORE the start of the class, in order to receive college credit. We will post the 2023 College registrations form later this winter. For reference only, here is what the 2022 form looked like:  Western Credit Registration Form and Waiver. Contact youthscience@rmbl.org for details.

Cost:   $1,760 for students outside of the Gunnison District.  Local Crested Butte, Gunnison, and Lake City students pay $1,610, if they register by March 1. After March 1, Crested Butte or Gunnison students can register for $1,760.  For all students, a $500 deposit is required to hold a spot.  The balance of the fee is due by June 1. Limited scholarships are available to students in the Gunnison Watershed School District. For all students, a $500 deposit is required to hold a spot.  The balance of the fee is due by June 1.

Scholarships:  Students from the Gunnison District may apply for a scholarship.  Scholarships will pay part or all of the $1,610 fee. To apply for a scholarship, please send the following application materials to the youth programs coordinator by email (youthscience@rmbl.org).

  • 1 page essay describing why you wish to take a summer field biology course,
  • A completed, confidential Financial Aid Form,
  • 2 letters of recommendation, which should be sent by recommenders directly to the youth programs coordinator at youthscience@rmbl.org

The deadline for applying for a scholarship is March 1st, 2023

Students receiving a scholarship must still submit a deposit, which will be returned when the class is completed, and expectations are met.  Students who do not satisfactorily complete the course forfeit the deposit.

COVID-19 Statement

In order to keep students, scientists, and staff healthy in light of COVID-19, for Summer 2023, all participants in RMBL programs will be required to follow the RMBL COVID-19 health and safety plan, which will include proof of vaccination, and may include mask-wearing, hand-washing, personal distancing, and group size limits. Vaccine exemptions will be considered, as required by law. 

There is a $25 registration fee once your application has been accepted.

Acceptance: Once you have been accepted into the class you will receive a confirmation email and an email link to fill out required paperwork.

Contact:  Please direct questions regarding the high school course to Katie Lawn, RMBL Youth Programs Coordinator, youthscience@rmbl.org.

RMBL is an equal opportunity service provider and employer and operates under permit from the USDA Forest Service, Gunnison National Forest.