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Land & Sea by Clint Kelly ( | Photos by Mike Siegel



Senior ecology major Justin Borcherding has been living the life. He has not only taken multiple biology and environmental courses at Seattle Pacific University's 967-acre environmental field station on Blakely Island in the San Juans, but he has also experienced nature on the island in ways few budding wildlife biologists can claim.

While on his adventures, he tackled a 160-pound deer inside a box trap for study purposes, watched bald eagles feed, and grabbed a garter snake only to have it regurgitate a frog that hopped away to croak another day.

"Surrounded by trees, it's easy to forget you're on an island," says Borcherding, who has plans to attend graduate school and eventually conduct research on large mammals such as bears and wolves. "SPU is extremely lucky to have a place for scientific research of a kind not always available to undergraduates at other schools."

Just 70 miles north of campus, the Blakely Island Field Station hosts scores of students in the summer and on 18 weekend field trips. They observe, conduct research, and enjoy hands-on encounters with trees, plants, diverse wildlife, and a marine ecosystem. There are two freshwater lakes, SCUBA diving facilities, and housing and food service. While the facility is used for biology students 85 percent of the time, students taking courses in fields such as astronomy, physics, and engineering also benefit.