ATLANTIC CITY — “You guys are so lucky you’ve got this campus here,” Stockton University Professor Adam Aguiar told his ecology and saltwater fishing students as they took the ramp down to the Albany Avenue beach Tuesday morning.
This wasn’t the first time Aguiar was taking his students outside the classroom for a casting lesson this year. Since Stockton’s Atlantic City campus opened last month, Aguiar said he has done multiple activities with the students.
“I cannot overstate what a benefit it is to have them actually apply the knowledge about the art that I’m teaching them,” said Aguiar, an assistant professor of biology.
In the weeks and months leading up to the opening of the new campus, officials from Stockton touted the opportunities that would become available to the students and faculty once classes began in Atlantic City. About a month into the first semester, Michelle McDonald, chief officer for academic programming in Atlantic City, said those opportunities are coming to fruition.
“Stockton’s faculty take seriously our mandate to engage with their community, not just socially and economically, but also pedagogically,” McDonald said. “It is more than taking our classes into the city, in other words, it’s about using the city as our classroom.”
Aguiar said being in Atlantic City is especially useful for his students because of the access to the saltwater ecosystem. In Galloway Township, where the main campus is, Aguiar could take the students to Lake Fred, but that is freshwater.
On Tuesday morning, the sun broke through the clouds as the students in Aguiar’s class practiced casting lines on the sand.
“It was nice because we could apply what we learned,” said student Taylor Fussner, 18, of Ventnor.
Fussner’s classmate Jasmine Stone, who lives at the Atlantic City campus, said she has found herself also using the beach to study.
“I’m a marine science major, so I always want to be near the ocean any chance I get,” said Stone, 24, of Piscataway, Middlesex County.
In addition to the lesson, the students on Tuesday also led fishing demonstrations for elementary students from the Richmond Avenue School as part of the New Angles for Success mentoring program. The program is part of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs program.
Professors from other disciplines have also found creative ways to use the city. David Von Roehm took his Performance for Film class to the beach for improv exercises.
“I think they loved it. They really opened up more than in the classroom,” Von Roehm said.
Anthropology Professor Joe Rubenstein restructured both his senior seminar and anthropological field methods classes to focus on Atlantic City. His seminar students this year are working in an apartment house on New York Avenue with residents and the on-site social worker as well as with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey to help with food distribution and food insecurity.
Professor Bill Quain is having students in his Event and Catering Management class tour several of the large event spaces in the city to get firsthand experience. Last week, the class visited One Atlantic inside The Playground and received a tour from General Manager and Director Elizabeth McGlinn.
Quain said the relocation into Atlantic City prompted the expansion of the college’s event-planning curriculum.
“It’s really a high-demand subject area,” he said. “This whole A.C. campus, which started out as an experiment, has turned out to be a fantastic thing.”
McGlinn took the students through the event space, detailing areas good for photo opportunities — even in the bathroom — and gave tips on how to interact with clients.
“Your goal as an event planner is to listen to the client,” McGlinn told the students.
Senior Alexandra Carlson, of Manahawkin, said having the chance to tour real event spaces is invaluable.
“Being in Atlantic City absolutely opens so many more doors, especially in the hospitality industry,” said Carlson, an aspiring event planner. “It’s literally a five-minute walk from our classroom.”