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Course Description

The Letchworth Experience connects students to the local geography of Geneseo, NY and the Genesee River Valley.  During the three days in Letchworth State Park, students explore the rich indigenous history and ties to the region, the local flora and fauna and the local threats to biodiversity, and get a deep understanding of how the campus's backyard is utilized as an ongoing research facility through collaborations with the State Park and the Community.  Faculty work with students to introduce them to the area and to introduce them to collegiate living and learning.  After the 3-day immersive part of the course is over, students continue their learning and reflection throughout the fall semester by attending events on and off campus and talking with faculty and each other about the transition to college.

  Activities in Letchworth

Learning Outcomes:

At the conclusion of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Apply discipline-specific knowledge and skills to place-based learning experiences
  • Form connections between broad conceptual frameworks and themes (e.g., but not limited to, sustainability, politics and power, economics and social structures) and local contexts
  • Engage in critical analysis and argumentation in oral discourse and written work
  • Synthesize multiple content knowledge in engagement with real-world problems and issues
  • Reflect upon academic experiences, assess changes in learning and outlook over time, and to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection

Who Should Apply?

Any and all incoming first year students are welcome.  Those with an interest in the outdoors will enjoy the trip, but no prior hiking, camping, or fieldwork experience is necessary.  We especially encourage students who have applied for housing in Tesla House as experiential learning is a cornerstone of the Letchworth Experience.  Anyone with an interest in trying something new is encouraged to apply.  Enrollment is limited.


All participants will stay in their Fall 2019 Housing Assignment on campus on nights of August 18th and August 22nd.  On August 19th, 20th and 21st, students will stay in the Letchworth D Cabins, which are close to the Portageville entrance to Letchworth State Park.  The cabins have four beds, electricity, a refrigerator, and table, but no running water.  Bathrooms and showers are a short walk from all the cabins.  Please see this link for more information about the Letchworth Cabins:


Students should arrange their own transportation to the SUNY Geneseo campus and then we will provide vehicles to transport you to, from, and around Letchworth State Park.


All meals are provided beginning with dinner on Sunday night through dinner on Wednesday night.  Students are expected to handle their own meals on Thursday afternoon and Friday until the new-student dinner on Friday night.  Dining Halls do not open until Saturday for returning students.  


  • There will be some light readings to complete prior to the trip.  Reading assignments will be sent via email in early August.

Text and Supplies

  • Small notebook and pencils (bring with you)
  • Print out of readings that were emailed
  • All other readings will be provided for you


Your course grade will be based on:

  1. Participation during activities - 50%
  2. Engagement during discussions - 30%
  3. Bioregionalism quiz - 10%
  4. Reflections and Journal Entries - 10%


This is a tentative schedule that is subject to change.

Sunday August 18th

10:00 am - 2:00 pm:  Arrive on campus and unpack

4:00 pm: Meet on the College Green for introductions and welcome

5:45 – 6:00 pm: Brief tour of the Geography Department

6:00 pm: Meet and greet and pizza in Bailey Hall

6:30 pm: Discussion of bioregionalism (reading provided in early August)

7:00 pm: Pack breakfast and lunch for Monday and bring to your dorm.

7:30 pm: Pack your day pack for the day:  notebook, pencils, two full water bottles, swimwear and sandals or water shoes for rafting, towel. 


Monday August 19th

8:00 am:  Breakfast in residence hall – yogurt, fruit, power bar

8:30 am: Meet in parking lot behind Bailey Hall to load vans with packed lunch, packed daypack, and other gear

9:00-11:15 am: Visit several sites around Geneseo to learn about the region

11:15 am: Head to Letchworth State Park

12:00 pm: Lunch at Lower Falls – cold cuts, cheese, PBJ, fruit, carrots

12:30 pm: Geocaching at Letchworth State Park

5:30 pm: Arrive at camp

6:30 pm: Dinner – hotdogs, hamburgers, salad, potato chips

7:30 pm: CCC discussion

8:00 pm: “Life at SUNY Geneseo” fireside discussion with a sophomore and the teaching assistant around the campfire


Tuesday, August 20th

8:30 pm: Breakfast at camp – yogurt, granola bars, fruit

9:30 pm: Invasive species discussion at Wolf Creek

10:00 – 11:00am: Habitat Restoration service project removing invasive vinca

Work gloves and hand tools provided

11:00 – 11:30 am: Tree identification

11:30 am: Lunch - cold cuts, cheese, PBJ, fruit, carrots

12:15 pm: Stream macroinvertebrate sampling at Wolf Creek

1:00 – 5:00 pm: TBA

6:00 pm: Dinner at camp – lasagna, garlic bread

7:00 pm: “Inside Tips from SUNY Geneseo Professor” fireside discussion


Wednesday, August 21st

8:30 am: Breakfast at camp – yogurt, granola bars, and pack lunch

9:30 am: Hike

11:30 am: Return to cabins

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:00 pm: Hike and Group Reflection

3:00 pm: Journaling and Free Time

5:00 pm: Dinner and Closing Reflection


Thursday, August 22nd

8:30 am: Breakfast at camp – yogurt, granola bars, pack lunch, and sort leftovers

9:00 am: Cabin cleanup and inspection

9:30 am: Return to Campus

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