Reading a textbook is a time-honored way to absorb information. But to fully grasp a concept, to make that information indelible, there's no substitute for firsthand experience.
Just ask the students of UC Santa Cruz's Ecology and Conservation in Practice course. Over the course of an academic quarter, the class travels to NRS sites such as Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve for a week or two at a time. While snorkeling in Big Creek itself, or hiking across ocean bluffs, they're inspired to ask their own questions about the environment. They bounce ideas off fellow students, and get to know their professors as people and scientists. Lessons that begin soon after breakfast can go on long after moonrise, ending around the evening campfire.
Along the way, years of classroom training in science blossoms into life.