EcoFS Info & Accreditation


Advance your Studies • Learn empirical field study research methods • Work collaboratively in small groups • Develop valuable career skills • Build lifelong connections in a friendly, safe and affordable environment



EcoFS believes students learn best by doing, not listening. We offer exceptional learning opportunities through highly experiential & academically rigorous field courses that focus on ecosystem science research methods. EcoFS applies classroom and textbook education to an authentic and spectacular environmental setting. Students build skills and experience while gaining a greater scientific, environmental, and career awareness.


  • ecofs lights*  Condensed, accredited, 21-day scientific field study courses in beautiful ecoystem settings
    *  3 easily transferable semester credits through the University of Montana Environmental Studies Program
    *  EcoFS is based upon 20+ years of Rocky Mountain & Caribbean ecosystem field teaching & research 
    *  Academically rigorous & personally transformative educational outcomes

A unique combination of demanding academic expectations coupled with highly experiential treeecosystem investigations creates a powerful & lasting learning experience.  

- Interdisciplinary: the interconnected nature of ecosystem science organically requires synthesis of a diversity of academic fields such as ecology, biology, geology, climatology & geography.

- Active & Hands-on: the majority of our days’ are spent actively investigating the ecosystem with a variety
of exciting research methods.scubatrans

- Group Oriented: students scientist learn effectively when collaborating with their peers.  Our field groups are small teams of 3-6 students who work together and share their findings.

- Place Based: our classes occur in spectacular environmental setting providing robust opportunities to analyze ecosystem components and immerse oneself in the educational context.
548722 3751697038953 28715723 n
Career Focused: students will acquire real-world scientific research skills that are applicable to a diversity of career fields.

EcoFS courses have 2 main academic components:
1. The initial half of the course exposes students to a wide variety of research methods and concepts in ecosystem science. Nightly homework facilitates the processing of observations and data collected during the day as well as scientific methodology competence.hales snorkeling

2. The second half of EcoFS courses challenges students to create and conduct an ecosystem science research project of their choosing. Students apply scientific methodology to an enjoyable, original & rigorous study. This research project culminates with a presentation at the end of the course and a final research paper due after the course ends.

Please review our full Syllabi for each course at the links at the bottom of this page.

EcoFS courses are open to students from any university/college and department/major for transfer credit from the University of Montana.u mt logo

EcoFS courses are ENST 391: Caribbean Ecosystem Field Studies or ENST 391: Colorado Ecosystem Field Studies. These are rigorous university level courses with high academic expectations and are approved for 3 undergraduate semester credits through the Environmental Studies Program of the University of Montana at Missoula (UM).  Steve Johnson, EcoFS Director, is a current Affiliate Faculty of the Environmental Studies Program & obtained a Master of Science from the Environmental Studies Program at UM in 1995.  

Over 200 United States and Canadian universities & colleges have approved EcoFS courses for academic credit.  For a full list of universities and colleges that have accepted credits in the past, view this pdf file: EcoFS University & College Academic Partner List.  PLEASE NOTE, every department, major, and student situation is unique.  Therefore prospective students must confirm with their university department if and how these credits will transfer for their degree.  University & college officials/advisors are welcome to contact Steve at to discuss the course.  Recent graduates, graduate students, or other students not seeking undergraduate academic credit are welcome to take the class. Full course syllabi are available to download in the links below.

Students complete a short on-line registration form with the University of Montana, there is no actual enrollment to UM. Upon completion of the course students must request a transcript from an online database (National Student Clearinghouse) to transfer the credits from the University of Montana at Missoula to their institution. In addition to academic credits this course provides an exceptional career building experience and successful students are in-line to obtain a valuable personal reference and/or letter of recommendation for future internship, job or graduate school applications.  

Steve Johnson pic for EVST websiteSteve Johnson is the Director and founder of Ecosystem Field Studies (EcoFS).  EcoFS was established in 2006 with a mission to provide transformative ecosystem-based learning opportunities for undergraduate college students. Steve earned his Masters of Science degree from the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana at Missoula (UM) and is currently an Affiliate Faculty at UM. EcoFS fulfills a need within traditional higher academics to provide rewarding and rigorous field experiences that complement classroom & textbook oriented education.  

Steve has devoted his entire career to studying and teaching Colorado Rocky Mountain and Caribbean Coral Reef ecosystem science and has 25+ years of experience in the field of ecosystem education. He applies a holistic perspective of ecosystem science education which allows students to understand the interconnectedness of ecosystem related fields and discover their unique path of interest.  Steve lives and directs EcoFS in Boulder, Colorado.