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Drexel Environmental Science Leadership Academy (DESLA)

A group of Drexel DESLA students standing in Barnegat Bay

The Drexel Environmental Science Leadership Academy is one part adventure travel, one part leadership training, and two parts field experience. Students who attend DESLA have the choice of habitat-hopping from seaside to maritime forest all along the New Jersey coastline; exploring the hardwood forests and pristine waters of Lake Lacawac in the Poconos; or traveling out west to examine prehistoric geologic formations and paleontological digs in Montana and Yellowstone National Park.

The DESLA staff on this adventure are all-star Drexel professors from the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science and expert scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the oldest natural history museum in the Western Hemisphere. From these career scientists, students will gain a broader understanding of what it means to be an environmental or geo-scientist, and what it takes to be a leader in the field.

DESLA 2020 Applications are Open!

DESLA 2020 Dates & Locations:

Desla Student on a Nighttime Snake and Frog Walk
DESLA Student on the Evening Snake and Frog Walk

Tuition & Program Information:

Our summer camps for high school students are residential programs. Students will live in dorms at the Barnegat Bay Field Station in NJ, the Lacawac Sanctuary Field Station in PA, or at the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association in Montana. More information on lodging can be found on the individual camp pages.

  • Barnegat Bay: $1800
  • Lacawac Sanctuary: $1800
  • Bighorn Basin: $2200

Note: Tuition covers housing, meals and activities, but does not cover airfare.

After completing DESLA, application fees will be waived for students applying to Drexel University for undergraduate study.

Eligibility & Deadlines:

These summer camps are open to rising high school juniors and seniors (students who will be juniors or seniors in September of 2020). DESLA applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The final application deadline for all DESLA 2020 programs is May 1, 2020. Qualified students will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning in January until all spaces are filled.

Financial Scholarships: 

There are a small number of financial-need scholarships available to students accepted into the DESLA program. 

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, the below information must be received by the Scholarship Committee at no later than Friday, April 24, 2020. Notification of scholarship decisions will be sent by May 1, 2020. 

  1. A 500-word essay explaining why you are a good candidate to receive the scholarship. *Please remember that scholarships are based on financial need.
  2. Tax documentation (2019 1040 Federal Income Tax Return or, if not yet filed, 2018 1040 Federal Income Tax Return) as well as any other applicable information from parents/guardians that demonstrates financial need.

Topics You May Explore at DESLA:

Gain skills and experiences specific to each location in our science leadership academy.

    DESLA Student Studying Fish at Barnegat Bay     
Fish Studies at Barnegat Bay

Barnegat Bay Field Station:

  • Bay Ecology and Water Quality Monitoring
  • Marsh Ecology
  • Fish Identifications and Natural History
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Ecology of Local Insects
  • Pine Barren Ecology
  • Coastal Processes
  • Botany

Lacawac Sanctuary & Field Station:

  • Lake Ecology and Water Quality Monitoring
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Temperate Forest Ecology
  • Fish Identifications and Natural History
  • Ornithology
  • Plankton
  • Geology
  • Botany

Bighorn Basin & Yellowstone National Park:

  • Geology
  • Paleontology
  • Geysers, Hot Springs, Fumaroles, and Mud Pots
  • Hydrogeology
  • Geomorphology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Earth Processes

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