Professor Davis stands on a beach in the Virgin Islands

Ecologist. Ethno-botanist. Naturalist. Agricuturalist. Historian. Scholar. Writer. Teacher. Environmental activist. Bushman.

Professor Olasee Davis is a man who wears many hats. He is a native Virgin Islander who lives and works on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is known throughout the world in his field of cultural and natural history and as an environmental activist. He is an Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist in the Natural Resources Program of the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of the Virgin islands St. Croix campus.

Since 2008, Davis has lead Winona State University travel study students on walks and hikes over sacred land as he shares historic events that shaped the island, the Caribbean and beyond. The theme of the WSU St. Croix travel study is “acts of resistance in the face of colonialism,” and students have the unique opportunity to learn about the complex history of the island through a number of interactions with Professor Davis.

Olasee Davis has hiked with WSU travel study students along pristine beaches at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge where endangered sea turtles nest. He has joined us on turtle watches to educate students about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Leatherback Sea Turtle Research Project (PDF) and to observe adult female leatherbacks emerge from the ocean to lay eggs on the beach they were likely born on some 20+ years ago. If they are lucky, WSU students may get to hold and release hatchlings that emerged earlier in the day or that were excavated from an emerged nest.

Newly hatched sea turtles

Professor Davis accompanies our WSU travel study group to Buck Island Reef National Monument where he teaches us about the Slave Wrecks Project, which seeks to learn more about the global slave trade through historical and archeological work. The project conducted underwater resource documentation and terrestrial excavations related to the history of the slave trade on St. Croix, and Davis shares the findings as he hikes with students along the shore of Buck Island.

Professor Davis gestures with his hands while teaching on the beach Professor Davis and a student hike along the shoreline

Learn more about Professor Davis and his knowledge of the history of St. Croix and the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Part 2.

–Dr. Tamara Berg, Professor and Director
Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Winona State University

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