A group from Edge Hill University enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to the USA thanks to financial assistance from the Student Opportunity Fund.

Sixteen students from all year groups, and across a range of disciplines including English, Psychology, Geography and Business were given the opportunity to apply to visit Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, renowned for its wildlife and geothermal features.

Designated as the world’s first official national park, in 1872, 11 international students from one of Edge Hill’s partner universities, New Jersey-based Montclair State, also joined up for the ‘Creative Thinking and Leadership’ event which saw young people and lecturers work, live and eat together in Yellowstone.

Bill Johnson, Director in Edge Hill University’s International Office, was instrumental in the process of applying for funding, and organising the trip.

“The students explored a curriculum relevant within the context of how a small town with responsibility for the economic development of its citizens ensures it protects the environment, to preserve the park for future generations.

“The students saw everything that Yellowstone has to offer including geezers, sulphur pools, animals in their natural habitat (bears, wolves, bison, elk, reindeer, cayotes, etc). They also listened to lectures from local experts including the Mayor, local businessmen and workers who talked about the town and its economic relationship and importance to the town.”

An environment ‘alien’ to the UK in terms of size and scale, the students gained a unique insight into its strategic importance on a local, national and global level. He added:

“Running alongside this were creative thinking and leadership lectures from a US expert, and a photography lecture to aid their understanding of how to relate and make the most of the experience they were having in terms of both their academic studies and future careers opportunities.”

Daniel Bocharnikov, one of the lucky 16 Edge Hill students on the trip, said: “It was an extraordinary experience to be able to walk amongst bison, coyotes and bears in the wilderness. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity as it will prove hugely beneficial for my future career aims.

“The opportunity to work with other international students from the USA, and to spend so much time together was brilliant. The whole group gelled, and I feel this shared experience was so unique that we will all be in contact for years to come.”

Bill also notes how it was the first opportunity Edge Hill has had to undertake a student experience of this type with support from the Student Opportunity Fund.

“It was a fantastic experience for students from both institutions. They had not worked with other international students before in their academic careers.”

This opportunity, and the burgeoning relationship with Montclair has opened the door for further trips, with a visit to United Nations HQ in New York planned.

Find out you can apply for financial support from the Student Opportunity Fund here.