Monday, August 1, 2011

School Visit

Sam writes this about the school visit "this is my favorite picture because it shows that these people truly care about their culture and are trying to preserve their history. The man told us what every dance meant to their people, one was when the boys acted like bulls.They don't want to forget their past, their old customs. When a country no longer remembers its history, whether the good or bad, they forget what all their ancestors did, the old customs they once had,they are less appreciative of what their ancestors did to give them the life they have now. Like in America a lot of us forget, therefore become ungrateful and self- serving. By teaching these young kids those dances, they preserve their history and won't forget as much or at such a rapid pace."

Butterfly Farm

Connor writes: "I picked this picture because first of all, considering my amateur photography skills, this looks pretty good, and secondly, I just thought it was so cool getting to see all of those animals at the Butterfly Gardens. I looked at it as a sort of natural zoo with all of the industrial stuff thrown in with it. Such a cool place and a great first morning!"

Blue Sky

Conner says: " I selected this photo because it really seemed the sky was bluer in Costa Rica. I don’t know if it was because of the good health of the environment, but just looking at the sky really showed how beautifully Costa Rica has been keeping their country."

Exciting Start!

Erin writes "I love this one because it brings back all the excitment of the very first morning that we were there. I was just so excited to see what would happen during the trip, and also that I got to share the experince with my best friend like Miss Haylee. Also, it reminds me of how much this trip challenged me and changed me even from the person I was in the picture. One of the best and coolest experinces of my life!!"

Vastness of His Creation

Kyle states: "this was my favorite picture from the trip because it shows how small we are in God's landscape. God's Creation is so much bigger than just humans. Hiking up to the volcano was extremely fun too!"

Plenty of Prayers Offered on the Bridge to Panama

AJ says: "walking on that bridge makes thankful for just having safe bridges, much less having a clean and safe society."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Great Views, a Rain Storm, and Lunch!

Kenzie states "I chose this photo of the volcano because it was my favorite day! I loved hiking up to the top to get a great view of the volcano and of the lake on the opposite side. It was fun how when we were coming down we got poured on and then went straight to an amazing lunch! (: "

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rewarding Hike

Ashlea has this to say about her favorite picture, "this is my favorite photo because after we had hiked all of that way and up through the rocks this is the amazing view that awaited us."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turtle Research Station

Jamie said "this is my favorite photo because I loved looking at the different images on this wall everyday we were at the turtle station. Each photo is unique and gorgeous!

Vibrant Costa Rica Flowers

Courtney writes:"This is my favorite photo because I love the lighting behind the flower and the vibrant colors in the picture. I think it captures so much beauty."

Attitude and Knowledge Survey

Please fill out this quick survey on your knowledge and attitudes related to conservation. Thanks!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Cultural Dancing at the School

Chris liked this photo because it shows an aspect of life that he never saw before. "Cultural dancing does not exist as much in America as it does in Costa Rica. The people there learn three dances by the time they are in sixth grade, and all of those dances are culture specific. I thought that was very cool to see".

Friday, July 22, 2011

Agua Limpio?

Allie says: "This is my favorite photo because whenever we exited the bus to enter into Panama, Nacho told us we should not talk to the children on the streets because once you give them money many other people will swarm over to you. When these two children approached us I was prepared to tell them no. Then they looked up at us with their sad little brown eyes and questioned us: "agua limpio?" (clean water) and my heart melted. I gave them my water and they lit up right before me and drank most of my water. It really changed me and I love sharing this story. They opened my eyes to the poverty of this town and made me want to bless even more children!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Fluffy Friend

Jordan took this picture at William's Butterfly Farm he says:"this picture shows just one of the many kinds of wildlife that Costa Rica has. It shows how some people have had an impact on preserving wildlife."


Haylee says "This picture summed up the trip for me. The way the trees and land reflect off the water and the smoothness of that water gave me a sense of calm on that morning. The boats were cool because they look all vintage-y. This picture gives me fond memories. It was really hard to choose a favorite picture because this trip was full of good memories."

Awesome Picture Cam!

Cam says "this is my favorite picture because it really shows how big and colorful a blue morphil Butterfly is. The owner of the butterfly farm, William, is holding it but then let it go free after everyone had looked closely at it."

Volcano Beauty

Logan says: "this picture, captured on the volcano overlooking Lake Arenal, is my favorite out of all the pictures I took. I think the picture captures the landscape of Costa Rica: mountainous, green, and overall beautiful. This was my favorite view of the entire trip, and I was glad to capture it with my amateur photography skills."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Senior Family Portrait

Michaela's favorite picture is her tight group of senior friends she bonded with on the trip.

I'm so glad you got to know each other better!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Costa Rica Butterflies and Moths Podcast

In this episode we visit Costa Rica to experience firsthand the astonishing variety of insect life in this tiny Central American nation—20,000 different kinds of butterflies and moths alone!

José Montero and Manuel Zumbado, both of the National Biodiversity Institute, INBio, explain how this crossroads between North and South America became a hotspot for evolutionary innovation, producing such spectacular specimens as Thysania agrippina, a moth so large that it’s often mistaken for....well, you'll have to listen to find out!

Listen to the podcast on the Learning + Education section of the Encyclopedia of Life.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kyle C would love to see white tailed deer!

'm hoping to see a Costa Rican white-tail deer, which are smaller than the white-tail deer we have in the United States. Their colors range from gray to red with a white belly that is easier seen when they run. They can be found in the open dry forest land, especially near the Santa Rosa National Park. They like to eat grass, leaves, flowers, and fruits. The deer average 60 pounds and can live to 10 years. They protect themselves by jumping, swimming, and running up to 40 mph.

The white-tail deer were heavily hunted for leather goods and dog food in the 1940's; however, thanks to conservation efforts, they are again able to prosper as the National Symbol of Costa Rican wildlife. Man is still their primary enemy, but the jaguar and puma also hunt them in the wild. It would be neat to see them in their setting in Costa Rica, and how it is different from seeing their similar species in Texas.

Kyle - I'm glad you are already starting to think about the conservation theme of the trip.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reflection Journal

It's time for you to crack open the brand new journal and make your first entry. Here is what you need to do:
1. Find a quiet place outdoors
2. Sit without talking for five minutes and observe your surroundings.
3. Stay seated and close your eyes for the next five minutes. Listen, smell, even touch your surroundings but do not talk or open your eyes.
4. Open your journal and write!
5. Comment on your experience in the comment section of this blog. Do not rewrite what you put in your journal, just comment on the overall experience.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Addie W. Is Most Excited To See An Ocelot!!

The animal I’m hoping, and most excited to see is the Ocelot. I have admired and studied these beautiful cats for a few years and greatly desire to see one in real life. Their gorgeous coats and beautiful eyes stun me as well as their athleticism and camouflage.

The Ocelot is a medium sized cat and is found from Texas to North Argentina. They weigh between 20-40 pounds depending on gender, males being heavier. Ocelots have 30 teeth and have an incredible bite strength for their size. Mostly a nocturnal creature and most are solitary hunters, though some hunt in pairs and take down larger prey than their average 2 pound meal. I am extremely excited to see if we can find one of these amazing and beautiful cats!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jordan S. is Looking Forward to Seeing a Squirrel Monkey!

I am looking forward to seeing a squirrel monkey. They aren't very big at all, but have the highest brain to size ratio of any primate at 1:17 (humans have a 1:35 ratio).

They live in the canopy layer of the rain forest, high off the ground and away from predators. They live together in groups that can get as big as 500 members, though they sometimes split into smaller troops.
Personally, I think seeing a swarm of 500 tiny monkeys would be pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Camryn D. Is Most Excited to See This Incredible Bird!

I'm most excited to see the Scarlet Macaw. It is considered one of the most beautiful birds in Costa Rica. Scarlet Macaws can live up to 50 years. It is an endangered species becuase of pet trade. You can only seen them in a few areas because most are in wildlife reserves though they prefer living in the rainforests. They can fly up to 35 miles an hour. Also the males and females look the same. They eat clay from rivers, fruits and seeds.

Cam, I hope you don't mind that I added my own picture. The Belize Zoo provided me with an up close and personal interaction with the Scarlet Macaw last summer.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Erin A is Looking Forward to an Encounter with a Jaguarundi!

The animal I am most looking forward to seeing is the jaguarundi. It looks like a cross between a cat and a weasel. It's only about 30 inches across.
It can typically be found in the lowlands and shrub areas of Mexico all the way down to South America. It is good at catching fish with their front paws. Oh, and when they are born they have spots like some of their big cat relatives, but lose these spots around four months of age.

I don't know why I'm so excited to see them, but they are so gosh darn cute and I love big cats, and it's especially fascinating how this one looks like a cross between a puma and weasel.

Erin, this is a very handsome animal - hope we get to see one!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sam H. Is Excited to Catch a Glimpse of the Blue Morpho Butterfly!

The Blue Morpho butterfly is considered to be one of the largest butterflies with a wingspan from five to eight inches in width. An adult Blue Morpho butterfly uses its long proboscis to suck juice from rotten fruits.( I think that is kinda gross but if they like it, they like it.) The underside of their brillant, iridescence blue wings is a brown shade.

It is determined by some experts that the Blue Morpho may be considered as an endangered species! When they are catepillars, they are a red brown color. Which is cool to think of because when they are in the cacoon, the not only develope wings and a totally different body structure, but they change colors too! Their entire life cycle from birth to death is 115 days! Once dead, their wings are used to make jewlery and as inlay in wood working.

Kenzie W is Excited to See The Olive Ridley Turtle

I think this turtle is adorable and really cute. It is the smallest of the species and weights between 75 and 85 pounds. It has a dark olive green to black color. It is also called “Lora” or “Carpintera”.

It is found most abundantly off the pacific coast of Costa Rica. The nesting takes place along the whole length of the country. Out of 51 beaches 48 are suitable for their nesting to occur. The most important nesting beach is at Ostional.

Dakotah is Most Interested in Seeing a Cacomistle!

The animal that I am looking forward to seeing in Costa Rica is the Cacomistle. It is a mammal that lives in the rain forest and is a relative of the raccoon. It spends most of its life in the treetops and is mostly nocturnal. It is an incredible climber and is very fast. It has not been reported to attack humans.

Dakotah, I think we are seeing several animals that appear related to the racoon family. Looks like we need a night hike to see all the nocturnal animals!

Conner H. is Most Excited to See a Toucan!

I am looking forward to observe the Toucan in the rain forest of Costa Rica. No, I did not pick this animal because it's the face of my favorite cereal (Toucan Sam), but I do really enjoy the colors of the birds.

There are six different species of Toucan in Costa Rica, two of the most common are the keel-billed toucan (tucan pico iris), and the chestnut-mandibled toucan. (Ticos call is dios tedé). Another name for Toucan is the "flying banana"; I suppose they call it this because it's beak is shaped like a banana, and it also has a diet primarily consisting of fruit.

AJ is Most Excited about Seeing a White Nosed Coati!

This animal is an omnivore that has a very big appetite. It will eat lizards, plants, fruits and insects. Coatis usually travel in packs up to twenty four strong! While they travel in packs, they chatter back and forth making them easy to hear from ways away.

They are diurnal spending most of their time in the day foraging for food. They usually live in grasslands and forests where they will sleep in the trees. They are some mistaken for a raccoon because of their ringed tail but coatis hold there tails upright when walking, unlike raccoons.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Courtney B. Is Looking Forward To Seeing Manatees!

I am excited to see all the manatees. They are called sea cows because of their massive size and are vegetarians. They have whiskers and their closest relative is the elephant.

They are endangered now with only about 4,500 left. Humans pose little threat to manatees but the loss of habitat has taken it toll on the species. They are underwater mammals.

Courtney, we should be seeing these in Panama. They are awesome!

Titius M. is Most Interested in Seeing a Poison Dart Frog!

I am most excited to see a poison dart frog. Outside of a zoo I have never seen a frog that has a different color then muddy green.

I think it is extremely interesting that local Costa Ricans use the flesh of poison dart frogs to kill other larger animals while hunting. Their skin is poisonous! Until tonight I never knew an animal could poison you
any way other than injection. Poison Dart frogs live on the rainforrest floor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Connor D. is Most Excited To See a Fer-de-lance!

I am most excited for the fer-de-lance, which is the most dangerous and common snake (but don't worry, with new advancements in medicine, the fatality rate is less than 1%!). Fer-de-lance is actually the North American name for them. In South America, they refer to them as two different types, Bothrops Apex (which is a bit more down Southwards) and the Bothrops asper which we'll encounter.

I have these really irrational fears, but I'll like to be scared. For example, I'm scared of heights but I love to ride roller coasters. Snakes scare me, but I've always liked to be near (near as I can be, mind you) to see them interact. Fer-de-lance like to hide under leaves and roots during the day, and they can be spotted with their brown skin and diamond patterns. The males have a yellow tip on their tail, and the young are brighter. The scariest part to me is the fact they are very aggressive and excitable, making them unpredictable. Their venom has a corroding element to it, and if not treated soon, the skin will begin to die around it. Also, the female is the dominant of the species, being larger than the male and weighing more. A part of me hopes we really see them, and the more sensible side of me says I hope we don't get into any trouble! I think they fascinate me the most just because they prove how diverse God's creation is! What a fascinating animal!

Connor, I'd be happy NOT to see this snake unless it is behind glass :)

Ashlea M is Excited to See the Kemp's Ridley Turtle

Ashlea says "I am excited to see Sea Turtles, especially the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. It is the smallest sea turtle. The adult turtle only reaches up to two feet long and only weighs 100 pounds. The Kemp's Ridley sea tutrltes are so adorable and I would love to be able to hold one someday.

Ashlea, I don't know if we will be able to hold one but if we are in the right place at the right time we may see one laying eggs!

Michaela K.Is Most Excited to Study the Tapir

The animal I am most looking forward to studying in Costa Rica is the tapir. There are four species of tapirs: the Brazilian tapir, the Malayan tapir, the Baird’s tapir, and the Mountain tapir. All four species of tapirs are classified as endangered or vulnerable. The Baird’s tapir is the largest mammal in Costa Rica. The tapir is a strange looking animal with a long flexible snout that is closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. The average tapir is around 7 feet long, 3 feet tall, and weighs from 300 to 700 pounds.

Tapirs have short black hair over thick leathery black skin. The lifespan of a tapir is approximately 25 to 30 years. The tapir diet consists of fruit, berries, and leaves. Tapirs normally live in dry land forests, although when near a water source they will spend a great deal of time in and under water. Tapirs will swim and sink to the bottom of a water source to walk along the riverbed to feed on soft vegetation, take refuge from predators, and cool off during hot days. Tapirs also sit in mud pits to keep cool. Costa Rican tapirs are very timid and wary.

Jamie W. is Most Excited to See a Leatherback Turtle

Jamie says "I'm excited most about a sea turtle-specifically the Leatherback sea turtle. They are supposedly the biggest turtles alive".

You are right Jamie and I'll teach you how to identify turtles by their tracks at our training meeting.

Logan M. is Most Looking Forward to Seeing a Kinkajou!

The animal that I am looking forward to seeing in Costa Rica is the Kinkajou. It is a mammal that lives in the rain forest and is a relative of the raccoon. It spends most of its life in the treetops and is mostly nocturnal. It has a long tail and a face that I think looks like a lemur's. They may appear cute, but some have been known to attack their owners holding on with their claws and tail!

Dr V.: I had the chance to see these on a night hike in Belize! Logan is right, they are only active in the dark.

Chris S. Is Most Excited about Seeing a Sloth!

I have always wanted to see a sloth because I hear they are incredibly lazy because they usually spend 18 hrs a day sleeping(Would be fun for a day!)and in Costa Rica, a 3 fingered sloth exists (type of sloth)! At maximum speed a sloth can travel 1 mile in 4 hours!!!!!!!! He can practically fly by you. I cannot wait to see these fun animals XD.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Haylee Smith Is Most Excited to See a Margay!

This cute little cat. I find it cool (and cute) because it supposedly can race up and down trees like squirrels.

I agree with Haylee - this cat is one you would like take home with you but in spite of it's size and cuteness it can be vicious. It is closely related to the Ocelot.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Which animals are you most looking forward to studying in Costa Rica?

In total, Costa Rica harbours 210 species of mammals, around 878 species of birds, 218 of reptiles, and over 35,000 species of insects. For your first assignment on the blog I'd like you to respond to my message by telling us a little about the indigenous animal that excites you most. There are several web sites that can give you a list of the special animals of Costa Rica.

My favorite is the Howler Monkey. I saw (and heard) these incredible primates last summer in Belize and they are amazing. I couldn't believe that such a loud noise was coming from such a small animal. Howler monkeys rarely travel on the ground, instead they per fer the canopy of trees for protection and transportation. One note of caution about these animals - stand too close to their tree and you get rained on - in a very bad way.

Source; Costa Rica Nature and Wildlife

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm thinking about buying my own mask and snorkel - any tips?

I had good luck on-line with Snorkel City ( Until March 18 they have a deal where if you buy a mask you get a snorkel free.

In a mask I would look for a purge valve which eliminates the annoying problem of water in your mask. In a snorkel I would recommend a dry snorkel which has a valve on top that keeps the water out. The two biggest problems I have seen in beginning snorkelers is being afraid of inhaling water and having a mask that allows water in or continually fogs up.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


If you have ever snorkeled, you know you are in for a big treat during our trip to Costa Rica. For those of you who are going to do this for the first time - no worries. Snorkleing is easy and fun once you get the breathing thing down. I practiced in my pool before my first trip to get comfortable with my equipment. Equipment (snorkel, mask, and fins) will be provided but I plan on bringing my own snorkel and mask. "No fog" drops also are handy. If you are not the strongest swimmer, flotation devices will be available and there is no shame in wearing one. I've worked with several teachers last summer on my trip to Belize who were first time snorkelers and they all did a great job. Feel free to post questions about this activity.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What are we going to do on the trip?

This trip will be like none other. You will learning biology in the rain forest, on the slopes of a volcano, and in the ocean. You will see first hand the plight of the sea turtles and the manatees. You will also be able to see lots of unique fish as you snorkle in the Carribean.

Get ready with your journals and cameras so you can remember this trip forever!