A group from Edge Hill University enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to the US 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 spend time together in Yellowstone.

Bill Johnson, Director of Edge Hill University’s International Office, was instrumental in 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 geysers, sulphur pools, animals in their natural habitat (bears, wolves, bison, elk, reindeer, coyotes). They also listened to lectures from local experts, including the mayor, local businessmen and workers, who talked about the park 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’m 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 US, 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 hadn’t worked with other international students before.”

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.