A class that has provided a unique learning experience for students may be extinct after this semester, said an environmental science professor.Andrew Brinker, the current professor of the herpetology class, said this semester will probably be the last time the course is offered because the new professor in the department is an aquatic vertebrate biologist.
Herpetology, which has been taught on campus for 30 years, is a branch of zoology that studies reptiles and amphibians and the role of the animals in global ecology, said Derrick Townsend, a senior Spanish and biology major.
“This class is different from others on campus because it is more hands-on; we don’t just read about the animals in books, we see them in real life, and that’s what makes it different,” Townsend said.
Although the class is small at 15 students, it is a favorite among students who have taken the class.
One of the things that separate this class from others at TCU is the field trips.
“The field trips are to give students field experience,” Brinker said. “Finding any animal in the wild is much more rewarding and memorable than reading about them or looking at preserved specimens.”
Brinker said students get both an academic and practical background in this class by both discussing a paper on a specific species then examining the preserved species to gain hands-on experience. He said the goal of the class is to educate students on the general natural history of reptiles and amphibians and to leave the class with the ability to identify local species.
“I took this class with the idea that it would be an easy science,” said Greg Moore, a senior criminal justice major. “After I was in the class for a while, it became really interesting. And now, it is one of my favorite classes”.