News & Resources

Featured Faculty: Eric Steinkamp, Alpine Ecology

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Feb 24, 2015

Professor of Life Science at Northwest University (Washington), Dr. Eric Steinkamp provides his students with an exceptional variety of interests and expertise in the process of teaching one of Au Sable’s most unique courses, Alpine Ecology (Pacific Rim). Eric effectively involves his students in new discoveries throughout the course because he never stops learning himself. After obtaining graduate degrees in science from two different state universities in different parts of the country (MS in Forest Management from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and a PhD in Forest Science from Colorado State University), Eric then went on to complete a Masters of Divinity from the Assembly of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. Although his particular expertise is in alpine ecosystems, Eric is pursuing a new line of interest in learning all he can about marine environments, and even carries a PADI Dive Master Certification in scuba.

Few courses at Au Sable take the student so completely into a whole new world as Eric’s course in Alpine Ecology. Set in the Coastal and Cascade Ranges of the Pacific Northwest adjacent to Au Sable’s Pacific Rim Campus, Alpine Ecology reveals the special physical, genetic, physiological and behavioral adaptations required by living things to survive in this stressful environment. Its dramatic contrasts of community changes that can result from even a few hundred feet of difference in elevation provide an array of biodiversity in a relatively small area that can be experienced in few other settings. Although he has now taught Alpine Ecology at Pacific Rim for many years, each session of the course proves itself a unique experience.

Eric’s careful study of Scripture and its applications to the care of God’s earth complement his scientific expertise, providing an integration of faith and learning that is thorough, thoughtful and scholarly. As one student recalled, “Not only did he teach us how to look at our environment and identify the organisms and plants we saw using our binoculars, field journals, pens sketches and field guides, he taught us to see those birds and plants with our own eyes and further to see them through the eyes of a creative God who has given them intrinsic value. “                                                  

This summer when the new Pacific Rim session starts in July, Eric and his class will be ready to climb. For every student, Eric’s instruction and personal guidance is sure to create a learning experience they will never forget.