I would like to start this reflection with a quote from the person who first inspired me with her love for nature and the environment, and proved to the world that a few simple words can change even the toughest of minds:
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
― Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson could not have been more right. The moment I arrived in Costa Rica and at SFS I saw this philosophy ingrained in every part of daily life at the center. From the constant presence of recycling bins and composting, to the early morning Pandilla chores, cold showers and limited AC, every day you were reminded of the footprint you leave behind, and that some people have bigger feet than others. One of the main goals of the program was to leave as small a footprint as possible, and to educate yourself on the profound impact people leave behind in the places they visit. I soon discovered that not all tourists and vacationers claiming to be concerned about climate change are aware of this impact, and that sometimes this concern does not extend past the comforts of home.
However, the resilience of the surrounding Atenas community as well as the communities of the places we visited during the weekly field trips and outings was an inspiration. This is one of the few places in the world where people truly understand the importance of sustainability. Although there are still many strides to take in improving conservation, it is clear that citizens of Costa Rica have a sincere regard for their environment and care very deeply about its future.
Photo courtesy of Travis Walker
Student Gaungning Wang preparing to release a hummingbird during research week at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Nature Reserve. Photo courtesy of Travis Walker