Desert Studies Institute (DSI) was established in 1997 as a cooperative program between the Department of Anthropology at Boise State University and Celebration Park, which is operated by Canyon County Parks, Recreation and Waterways. Each year, the Desert Studies Institute provides a broad range of academic offerings of interest and value to students, teaching professionals, Idaho’s citizens and visitors.
The mission of the Institute is to provide educational programs and scholarly presentations concerning the prehistory, history, ecology and politics of Idaho’s desert environments and deserts worldwide. The programs are presented to enrich the understanding and appreciation of complex desert ecosystems in Idaho and to promote their perpetual preservation as educational resources for the future. View and download the 2017 DSI Workshop Brochure.
The faculty of the Desert Studies Institute is selected on the basis of their expertise in areas relating to the objectives of the DSI. Faculty from Boise State University and the region form the core of the instructional faculty. The institute regularly arranges for the participation of distinguished scholars from other institutions.
All workshops are one credit each unless indicated, and are available for undergraduate or graduate credit, plus a small workshop fee. All workshops are listed under anthropology; most are cross-listed with other disciplines. See the summer class schedule for detailed information, or for registration information call 426-1709 (Boise State Summer Program/Extended Studies). For those who wish to take a DSI workshop for non-credit ($100.00), here is the registration page: http://extendedstudies.boisestate.edu/summer/dsi-workshops/
Brief Description of Workshops:
The Way West Through Southern Idaho
June 3 & 4, 2017 by William “Jerry” Jerrems, Boise State University
This workshop reviews the history of emigration associated with the Oregon Trail in southern Idaho, placing an emphasis upon its role leading to the environmental degradation along the trail corridor. Field Trip. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and History. Cross-listed with Anthropology and History.
Great Basin Birds of Prey
June 5-8, 2017 by Marc Bechard, Boise State University
This workshop focuses on the types of birds of prey found in North America, their identification, and breeding biology with emphasis on the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho. Included are field trips to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and the World’s Center for Birds of Prey. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Studies.
Ethnobotany: An Introduction to Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants
June 10 & 11, 2017 by Ray Vizgirdas
This workshop focuses primarily on plants used by Native Americans as food, medicine, clothing, and building materials. Classroom and field activities will emphasize plant identification, ecology and Ethnobotany. This workshop will bring together aspects of our region’s natural and cultural history. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Studies.
Owls of the Snake River Plain
June 12-15, 2017 by Marc Bechard, Boise State University
This workshop focuses on the identification, natural history, and food habits of owls found in the western United States with emphasis on the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho. Instruction will be given in owl pellet dissection and field trips will be taken to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Studies.
Introduction to Idaho’s Native Polinators
June 17 & 18, 2017 by Ray Vizgirdas
This workshop is an introduction to the concepts and issues surrounding pollination ecology. Some 80% of the earth’s flowering plans rely on animal pollinators, primarily insects, to ensure reproduction. Beyond the direct economic value, insect pollination is essential for maintaining the structure and function of a wide range of natural communities including sagebrush steppe and montane forests. Alarmingly, managed and wild insect pollinators have suffered declines in recent years prompting class for proactive strategies to help bolster their populations. Field Trip. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biology, and Environmental Studies. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Studies.
Death of an Ecosystem: Ground Squirrels, Cheatgrass and Wildfires
June 14 & 15, 2017 by Eric Yensen, College of Idaho, Emeritus
This workshop will focus on important ecological interactions in northern Great Basin ecosystems. Learn about the ecological roles of ground squirrels, badgers, raptors, coyotes, grasshoppers, sagebrush, and many others; how they interact to form a functional ecosystem; and how human activities are causing the collapse of this ecosystem. The workshop includes a field trip to the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Environmental Studies, and Geosciences.
Ice Age Megafauna of Southern Idaho
June 26 & 27, 2017 by Eric Yensen, College of Idaho, Emeritus
Learn about sabretooth cats, mammoths, ground sloths, and other extinct, and living, animals that lived in Idaho and surrounding areas during the last ice age a mere 13,000 years ago. This workshop will focus on what is known about these species and their ecological relationships. The ice age ecosystem serves as a point of reference for understanding modern ecosystems. The workshop also includes thought-provoking questions about their extinction. Field Trip. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biology, and Environmental Studies.
National Parks in a Comparative Perspective
June 29-30, 2017, Emily Wakild, Boise State University
This workshop focuses on the history of national parks around the world but especially the American West and Patagonian South America. The US National Park Service celebrated its centennial in 2016 but did you know that Argentina and New Zealand also had parks by then? We will explore stories about the origins and existence of these parks as well as trace their history through textual, visual, and film sources. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and History.
Fish and Invertebrates of the Snake and Boise Rivers
July 25 & 26, 2017 by Terry Maret, U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Water Science Center
In this workshop students will learn about aquatic species in the Snake and Boise Rivers and their habitat needs. Part of day one will be in the classroom covering ecological principles of rivers along with an overview of fish and aquatic invertebrates that live in the region. We then head to the field with various sampling gear to collect and identify aquatic invertebrates from local waters. Day two will focus on collecting and identifying native and nonnative fish species. There will also be an opportunity to investigate various aquatic habitat and water quality measures to assess river health. If you like to fish, this class may even help you catch more fish! Students should bring waders if they have them. Cross-listed with Anthropology, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Studies.
Technological Innovations for Exploring Idaho Deserts
July 31-August 1, 2017, Nikki Schwend and Tom Bicak, Canyon County Parks, Recreation and Waterways
Explore the intricate ecological relationships of the Snake River’s biological community by employing Vernier’s LabQuest equipment. Experiment with a variety of abiotic-biotic relationships at Celebration Park and learn to use computer interfaced probes and microscopes. Students will also have the opportunity to explore the Bonneville Melon Gravel in the Snake River Canyon with D-stretch technology. D-stretch is an imaging program developed by JPL for extra-terrestrial probes and allows rock art researchers to view images invisible to the naked eye. NOTE: Students will meet at Celebration Park. Directions from Boise: Drive west on I-84 take the Meridian/Kuna exit. Turn left onto S Meridian Rd. Continue onto E Avalon. Turn left onto Swan Falls Rd. Turn right onto Victory Ln. Continue onto Warren Spur Rd. Turn left onto Sinker Rd. Turn left at Historic Guffey Railroad Bridge. Directions from Nampa/Caldwell: Drive south ID-45 S/12th Ave Rd. Turn left onto Ferry Rd. Turn right onto Hill Rd. Turn right onto Sinker Rd. Turn left at Historic Guffey Railroad Bridge. Cross-listed with Anthropology and Environmental Studies.