Name: Jamie Hark
School: George Washington University
Major: Environmental Studies
Program: Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems, Costa Rica
After a great first week at The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Atenas, we set out to cross the daunting central range of Costa Rica for the Caribbean side of this beautiful tropical country. Our goal was to study the tropical rainforest fragments outside of the Manú field station in Guápiles, and get a hands on look at the ecological forces shaping the rich biodiversity in these pristine jungle landscapes. We split up into several groups to count the presence of small plants in one meter plots on the forest edge and the inner forest. Dodging bullet ants and snakes, we were able to gather data that we would analyze later the next week.
Late night hikes and early bird watching occupied our time until we left the next morning for the El Zota organic farm on the rolling lowland plains of the Caribbean coast. Here we were a given a glimpse of sustainability-in-action as we toured the 80 hectare farm. I got my hands dirty ripping yucca out of the ground and my palate wet tasting many of the medicinal plants we have come to rely on in the United States.
In the end, we created a lasting legacy by planting trees and contributing to the thriving secondary forest making a comeback on the farmland. El Zota is an outstanding example of a thriving organic farm that is forging ahead in a time when mono-cropping is devastating the environment. This is just another fun adventure in a life changing month in the greatest country on earth!