High School Course

Introduction to Field Biology

Application period for summer 2024 open now!

Course Description:  The goal of this course is to teach the process of conducting biological research in the natural world.  Course activities include making natural history observations, asking research questions, and working with scientists on topics as diverse as plant biology, pollination, stream ecology, and animal behavior.  Students will work individually or in small groups to conduct their own research projects under the guidance of instructors. Students will have access to modern scientific equipment, including GEOXT GPS units and GIS software, drying ovens, microbalances, and a microscope/camera set-up.

This course is for High School students and recent High School graduates.  This course is offered as a partnership between the Gunnison School District and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Dates:  July 22nd- Aug. 2nd, 2024

Length of time:  2 weeks, Mon-Fri at least 9-5:00 with 1-2 evening sessions and one early morning session. On-site housing is not available.  Students must make their own arrangements to live off-site.

Class size: 13 students. Students may register on a first-come, first-served basis.

Instructor: The high school instructor, Lizza Vachon, will teach the course, in collaboration with Dr. Jill Anderson and other RMBL scientists.

Pre-Requisites:  One year of HS biology, except by permission of the instructor.

High School Credit: We expect that students will be able to earn 1/2 year
(one semester) science credit in the Gunnison Watershed School District.  For credit to be earned, participant must attend all class times and complete daily science journal assignments as well as their final research project.

College Credit: Students can register for up to two credits of college biology through Western State Colorado University. Instructions and the link to apply for credit through Western Colorado University will be available for download here in April 2024.

Fill out and submit this form 2024 RMBL_HS Western Credit Registration and Waiver to Western at Center@western.edu to be enrolled.

Western’s fee for college credit for this course is $200 in 2024.

Contact youthscience@rmbl.org for details.

Program Cost:

  • $1,845 +$25 registration fee for students outside of the Gunnison District.
  • Local Crested Butte, Gunnison, and Lake City students pay $1,690 +$25 registration fee, if they register by March 1. After March 1, Crested Butte or Gunnison students can register for $1,845.
  • For all students, a $500 deposit is required to hold a spot once you accepted into the program.
  • The balance of the fee is due by June 1.
  • Scholarships are available to students in the Gunnison Watershed School District. (please see scholarship requirements below)


Initial Application: the above link will take you directly to the course application. The initial application is free, you will not be asked for payment information until you are accepted into the program, then you will be sent a link to register and pay.

  • You will need to create an account; you will need to use your parents name as head of household but may use your email address or your parent’s. You will have the chance to enter additional contact information for yourself as “child”. Your parents will need to digitally sign registration paperwork once you are accepted into the course.
  • Hit the red “Register” button > select who is attending > add to cart
  • You may checkout > enter required information or keep shopping to add a scholarship application > camps/events > scholarship application

Next steps:

  • You will receive email confirmation of your application
  • You will be contacted within two weeks from RMBL as to your acceptance into the program
  • A link will be emailed to you to complete registration paperwork and pay the required $500 deposit and $25 registration fee
  • Final payment is due by June 1st, 2024

Contact:  Please direct questions regarding the high school course to Katie Lawn, RMBL Youth Programs Coordinator, youthscience@rmbl.org.

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Students from the Gunnison District may apply for a scholarship.  Scholarships will pay part or all of the program fee. The deadline for applying for a scholarship is March 1st, 2024

Scholarship Application Checklist:

  • A completed, confidential RMBL Youth Programs Scholarship Application (The application questions should be answered from your most current US Federal Income Tax Return. All financial Information is kept confidential. **Note if you are a high school applicant filling out this form, this tax information is required of your Parents/Legal Guardians not your personal taxes.)
  • 1 page essay describing why you wish to take a summer field biology course sent directly to the youth programs coordinator at katielawn@rmbl.org
  • 2 letters of recommendation as to why you would be a good fit for this program, which should be sent by recommenders directly to the youth programs coordinator at katielawn@rmbl.org
  • Required Deposit: Once you are accepted into the course, students receiving a scholarship must still submit a $500 deposit, which will be returned when the class is completed, and expectations are met.  Students who do not satisfactorily complete the course forfeit the deposit.

COVID-19 Statement for RMBL Day Programs                                                                                                                         

In order to keep students, scientists, and staff healthy in light of COVID-19, for Summer 2024, all participants in RMBL day programs will be required to follow the RMBL COVID-19 health and safety plan, which may include mask-wearing, handwashing, personal distancing, and group size limits. 

RMBL is an equal opportunity service provider and employer and operates under a Special Use Permit from the USDA Forest Service, GMUG National Forest.