WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Students at Missouri State University-West Plains and community members can learn more about Costa Rica during a short-term, study away opportunity scheduled for summer 2018.
Ana I. Estrella, assistant professor of biology and biomedical sciences, will lead a group of students on a trip to the Central American country to study Costa Rica-The Expedition: Leatherback Sea Turtle Ecology (BIO 197), a three-credit-hour course, from May 23-31, 2018.
Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest turtles on earth, growing up to seven feet long and exceeding 2,000 pounds, she said. These reptiles can be found in the tropic and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. In 1970, it was listed under the Endangered Species Act, she added.
Costa Rica is one of the world’s most important nesting sites for Leatherback sea turtles, Estrella, said. Scientists there are working in tracking and studying nesting behaviors to help increase the population numbers around the world.
In the Costa Rica-The Expedition: Leatherback Sea Turtle Ecology program, participants will expose participants to a full research experience. Data collected will be useful to maintain and improve the conservation efforts of this species all over the world. Participants will also gain ecological awareness based on marine and terrestrial problems, according to Estrella.
“Study abroad programs have been found to be a good recruitment tool in higher education for students pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields,” Estrella said. “Several studies show that students participating in these untraditional classroom settings are affected, in term of impact upon their intentions to act as global citizens.
“In summer, 2016 a group of seven, and in summer 2017, a group of four MSU students from different backgrounds experienced a study abroad opportunity that changed their life, the Leatherback Sea Turtle and Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica,” she continued. “This was a biology course based on active learning techniques where students learned about sea turtle biology, marine ecology, research methods, neotropical ecosystems, climate change, sustainability and Costa Rican culture. After their participation, students expressed more awareness about climate change impacts and the importance of sustainable agriculture. They feel empowered to be active with environmental organizations in their communities.”
The program fee is $3,280, which includes tickets for airfare, taxes, all meals in Costa Rica, all lodging, all transportation, park fees, airport exit taxes from Costa Rica, tips, international program fees and travel insurance. An initial deposit of $250 is due Oct. 31; a second deposit of $750 will be due by Dec. 26.
To apply for this course, visit http://missouristate-sa.terradotta.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10932. For more information, please contact Estrella at 417-255-7710 or AnaEstrellaRiollano@missouristate.edu.