A friend of mine in Friendster put ‘Way Canguk research station’ in her school list. I guess she’s right. My ‘school’ time in here was started back in the end of 1997, about 6 months after it was built. This is a research station built by the Wildlife Conservation Society—Indonesia Program in one of the remained lowland rainforest in Sumatra, a small part of the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Lampung.
There are no formal programs in here except all the surveys and monitoring. We put camera traps, we walk up to 12 km a day, stretching our neck with our binocular to watch the papa hornbill feed mama and her chicks, or following groups of siamang gibbon moving from tree to tree, having hefty lunch at fruiting fig tree until they got tired and ready to sleep. Yes, research station is a ‘field school’ even when there is no teacher around. Learning seems like an automatic process in here even if you are not pursuing another degree and just work as research assistant or technician. Research station is a small but dynamic world. Interactions are not exclusively occurred in wildlife.
There is no formal graduation of course. But at least to my recent counts, this research station supports 2 students/year and since 1997 Way Canguk has been successfully delivered approximately 67% Indonesian undergraduate students, 27% and 8% of both local and overseas master’s and PhD’ students to finish their dissertation projects. This was formal counts, but I believe many of my friends and staff are happily included this research station in their ‘school’ list at least in their heart. I wonder if this ‘muddy boots school’ would still be able to survive another generations of ‘field student’. Someone said, “Conservation research points the way but does not by itself make changes”. Nature provides so much to learn and science stitch everything together.