Downtime at Blakely: students of BIO2571 unwind

Led by Elena Brezynski, PhD, students of BIO2571 (a biology class for integrated studies majors) spent the weekend of May 11 at BIFS studying life and reproductive cycles of various fungi, as well as energy cycles and food chains. Dedicating hours a day to their studies (almost 11 on Saturday, the only full day on the island), BIO2571 students were given opportunities to relax amongst Blakely’s unique and picturesque scenery. Current facilitators of Blakely, Cindy and LeRoy Hubbert, work hard to ensure that students are offered a plethora of things to do to unwind. Whether it’s canoeing on the lake (or watching from the dock), stargazing on the lawn alongside the lab, or congregating in the kitchen late at night for fresh cookies, coffee and good conversation, students can de-stress and take in all that the field station has to offer.

Because the island is typically sparsely populated throughout the duration of the year until summer, Cindy and LeRoy leave doors to the kitchen unlocked at all times. Students and teachers alike are free to come and go through the kitchen as they please for pit-stops for tea, coffee, fruit, and Cindy’s famous homemade cookies.

On their first night, with a two-hour car ride, 45-minute boat ride, and hour-long lab session behind them, students of Dr. Brezynski’s BIO2571 met in the kitchen directly above the lab to de-brief after the day’s activities.

BIO 2571 students congregate in the kitchen for a late-night conversation. All photos by Taylor Muñoz.

Discussing matters of their major, favorite classes, and professors, students of BIO2571 in this moment exemplify a unique characteristic of SPU: small class sizes, as well as the opportunity to advance through one’s major with a familiar and cohesive group of people over the years. Sitting around the table of the kitchen late at night with cups of coffee and tea in hand, these students, all integrated studies majors, bonded what brought them over the Puget Sound to the island together.

“We all have  a lot of shared experiences because we are in the same major and so we’ve taken a lot of the same classes and maybe taken them at different times, and so it’s fun to compare our experiences and share how we felt about various classes or professors,” said sophomore Analyn Grasz.

On Saturday, the students’ only full day at BIFS, opportunities for downtime began after dinner. Students took to Spencer Lake, located directly behind the field station, to canoe; others sat on the dock and took in the view.

All photos by Taylor Muñoz



Across Spencer Lake from BIFS stands the Crowley family’s summer home, which is preserved year-round and has routine yard maintenance performed to ensure its condition remains pristine. A short canoe ride will take visitors up close to the quaint, beautiful cabin.

Sophomore Analyn Grasz and I ventured out on a canoe of our own to take in the scenery and debrief after our busiest and most productive day on the island.


Analyn Grasz joins me on a canoe as the sun sets on Saturday evening. Photo by Taylor Muñoz

Analyn Grasz and Aurora Turner admire sea otters swimming in Spencer Lake. Photo by Taylor Muñoz.

“What I liked about having downtime on Blakely was the community of my classmates and utter beauty of the island. Before Blakely I’d never stayed up late talking about relationships and eating chocolate cookies with my classmates. I’d never gone kayaking, stargazing, or to a mini-church service with them before. And I’d never fallen asleep next to them while watching ‘Gilmore Girls,’ but at Blakely I did, and it was wonderful. Because they are wonderful. I loved how peaceful the island was. Even though we worked hard we rested well, which made it a rejuvenating experience,” said sophomore Kennedy Stevenson.

“I thought it was so important to have downtime in the evenings after lectures and classification work during the day. We were given the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Blakely as visitors, rather than students doing assigned work, and engage in activities such as canoeing, hiking, and chatting with our classmates. My favorite part was canoeing on the lake with two of my classmates for an hour as the sun began to set on Saturday evening. It was so peaceful and the water was so still. It was a moment I won’t soon forget,” said BIO2571 student Erin Kalb.

Despite the long days put in by students attending to their students, Blakely Island Field Station proves to be an opportune place for students to forget the complexities of life in the city and just simply be one with nature.


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