Experiential learning helps students make connections between different skill sets and allows them to engage in a deeper level of inquiry. To enhance the connection between field and laboratory practice for undergraduate students in our wildlife ecology curriculum, we developed an exercise using environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis. eDNA sampling involves extracting and amplifying the DNA from specific organisms from an environmental sample, rather than from the organisms themselves, and has been rapidly adopted by conservation practitioners around the world. In our activity, students collect water samples from a local pond and process them to detect the presence of American bullfrogs. Practicing this procedure not only introduces them to professional skills they may utilize in their careers, but also helps create context for how laboratory science and field work support each other and can be used to connect to larger issues of conservation, environmental studies, or ecology.

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