During the past two weeks, our 34 person group has been split up into four different projects addressing sustainable development in Costa Rica. After returning from our respective spring break trips, we immediately began prepping for Directed Research. One group headed to Braulio Carrillo National Park to conduct interviews in Spanish to assess the community’s perceptions of national parks and environmental capital. Another went to the top of a remarkably cold mountain, Cerra de la Muerte, to research hummingbird behavior and feeder usage. The third group turned south to Carara National Park located on the Pacific Coast in order to assess the impacts of roads on bird populations in the forest. The final group remained in Atenas to determine carbon storage in tropical forests.

After spending the past 2 ½ months together, it was a strange six days to only be with one professor and 8 students. Although the topics were all extremely different from each other, I can speak from personal experience and from talking to others that DR was hard; hard, but extremely rewarding. This opportunity to set up study sites, collect field data, analyze our data, and then research and write an entire paper was a first time for many of us. Additionally, this experience was also rewarding in that our hard work and research is going to benefit the national parks of Costa Rica. After our final products, the professors associated with each project will take our translated papers to the parks in which we researched to provide information and ideas on how to improve the parks. When else in life will I be able to say that I assisted a country in learning more about its environment and becoming more sustainable?