Recently, the SFS Sustainable Development students visited Santa Elena and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We began our visit by conducting our first Tropical Ecology Field Experiment in the Bajo del Tigre Forest. My partners and I chose to research nutrient competition in a palm tree species that is endemic to Costa Rica.

During the first day of the trip, we visited a family-owned cooperative farm called Life Monteverde. This farm practices many of the sustainable techniques we have been learning about in the classroom. Also, we tasted delicious locally-grown coffee!

The following day, we visited the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We began our visit with a Tropical Ecology field lecture by Professor Edgardo Arevalo. The lecture was constantly interrupted by the sounds of the forest. Every bird song or chirp was immediately identified by Edgardo, a former guide of the reserve we were in. His extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna surrounding us made for an engaging lecture. We continued on to hike up to the Continental Divide, where the Pacific and Caribbean ridges meet. On a clear day, a visitor can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Coast. Unfortunately, we were unlucky but it was just as satisfying to be standing among the famous clouds of the reserve.

It is out-of-classroom experiences like that make SFS unique. Experiencing the environmental problems we learn about in the context of the world around us makes them feel pertinent and tangible, while allowing us to feel like we have the power to be part of the solution.

→ Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica