Students in Castleton University's Tropical Biodiversity course visited Costa Rica earlier this month. The course, taught by Professors Cynthia Moulton and Mary Droege, allowed students to travel to the Central American country for 10 days.
"Basically in this class we study the rainforest, the plants, the animals, and why there's such a great variation of species in that region," said Michael Hirschbuhl, a Global Studies major from Woodstock, Vermont, who created a video documenting his experience.
During their time in Costa Rica, students in the class participated in guided tours of the rainforest, which included the second longest hanging bridge in the country, leading to 350 acres of nature preserve. They also got to see firsthand the wildlife they learned about in class, including iguanas, monkeys, sloths, and more. The group was also given a tour of a chocolate facility, where locals explained traditional and modern methods for chocolate making.
Another activity the class took part in was volunteering at Proyecto Asis, a wildlife rescue center that is home to a variety of animals including Toucans, Spider and Howler Monkeys, Anteaters, Coatimundis, and more. Students were able to help feed the animals as part of their experience.
"Proyecto Asis is a rehabilitation facility for rainforest animals. They basically take animals that, for one reason or another, are having difficulty living by themselves. They take them in, rehabilitate them, and the ones they're able to release back into the rainforest, they'll release," Hirschbuhl said.
The group also went to Dave and Dave's Nature Park, a unique site for bird watching. Here, they planted Almond trees, which are a food source and nesting site for the endangered Great Green Macaw, the largest parrots in Costa Rica.
"I highly recommend anybody in college, if they have the opportunity, to take a class that goes to a foreign country," Hirschbuhl said. "I promise you won't regret it."
Castleton offers a range of classes that include a travel component during winter, spring, or summer break.