Lauren Wilson, Colorado State University
SFS Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica
After making long journeys from virtually every corner of the United States, all 34 of us students arrived safely in the beautiful country of Costa Rica Monday afternoon. In only a week’s time, we have already acquainted ourselves with The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies and have begun our rigorous academic endeavors with The School for Field Studies.
The center here in Atenas, Costa Rica has recently been Rainforest Alliance Certified which means that our program has demonstrated itself to excel in the areas of sustainable farming practices, energy management, community development, ecosystem management, solid waste management, and crop management. Practicing good environmental stewardship is a continual process that all of us are constantly working towards.This week we spent a few days at the Manú field station learning about different approaches to farming practices. We were able to contrast varying agricultural methods of both a local organic farm (“El Zota”), and a very large farm with more commercial practices (as demonstrated at Dole banana plantation).
At the organic farm, we learned how to make a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer from leaf litter containing microorganisms from the rainforest floor. El Zota strives to maintain a closed-cycle system of agriculture by growing, composting, and recycling virtually all supplies needed to sustain the needs of all the animals and crops on site. We also got the opportunity to witness a wide range of rainforest flora and fauna this week in Braulio Carrillo National Park.
During our field lectures we encountered everything from the sound of howler monkeys in the distance to a coral snake curled up just inches off the trail. Our first week with the program was filled with exhilarating fieldwork, hikes through the tropical rainforest, and activities of every fashion relating to the ever-improving sustainability of all of our day-to-day livelihoods.