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Research in the Rockies

Clint Valentine is always searching for his next big adventure. He’s already built up an impressive collection of domestic and international experiences by biking across the country for charity and participating in a geologic field study in Iceland. Most recently, he spent a summer collecting environmental data in the Colorado Rockies.

“I’ve been an adventurous type since my days as a Boy Scout,” said Valentine, a fourth-year student who is majoring in biology and environmental science. “I’ve gone on a trip every summer since starting college, and I plan to keep that tradition going for as long as I can.”

Valentine completed his first extreme feat in 2009 as a high school student, when he embarked on a five-month bicycling journey from the east- to west coast to raise money for the Susan G. Koman Fund. In the summer of 2012, Valentine participated in a Dialogue of Civilizations program to Iceland. There, he embarked on the quintessential science-meets-nature adventure, where he got his first taste of field research.

On his most recent endeavor, Valentine spent the summer cycling more than 600 miles around Colorado. This included climbing more than 40,000 feet on heavily loaded touring bikes with his long-time friend Rob DeBruyn, who teaches music at a Vermont middle school. Valentine and DeBruyn teamed up with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, an organization that provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference by conducting research on their explorations.

The duo participated in several ASC projects during their expedition, which included collecting observations on wildlife, road kill, and pika, a small mammal with short limbs and rounded ears. The valuable data they collected went directly to an expansive set of researchers, who use the information to make management and conservation decisions. For example, the wildlife observations help researchers understand threats that land-use and climate change pose to many species, and how these animals are changing in response to these threats.

“I wanted to do more for science while in Colorado,” explained Valentine. “ASC tailored our projects around our itinerary.”

The next adventure on his to-do list: Biking the Silk Road, a 4,000-mile route from Europe to China. The trip will most likely take six-to-12 months, but Valentine is looking forward to the long-distance trek.

“When you consider cycling across a continent, you look for a grand path to follow,” said Valentine. “I’m looking forward to climbing cliffs no one has climbed before and enjoying the extensive history along the path.”