SFS Expands Partnership with Bhutan’s UWICE to Offer New Semester Program

October 17, 2014

Bhutan: Himalayan Forests, Watersheds, and Rural Livelihoods

Building on Five-Year Partnership, SFS and UWICE Will Offer “Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition” in Fall 2015

On September 29, The School for Field Studies (SFS) and the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) of Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New York City to offer a semester program beginning in the fall of 2015. The program builds on SFS’s productive five-year collaboration with UWICE, an international research and training facility, and part of Bhutan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.

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Biodiversity At Our Fingertips

October 17, 2014

Panama: Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, SFS students

Caroline Hobbs
Skidmore College
Environmental Studies
Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, Panama

Our first month here in the Bocas del Toro archipelago has been a whirlwind of snorkel trips, nighttime bug catching, and excursions to various islands. It has been fascinating to be immersed in a culture so different from my own.

Last Saturday we presented our SWOT analysis projects; a plethora of information about the economic, social and environmental well-being of Bocas that we had accumulated through interviews with locals, business owners, and even the mayor!

After interviewing the owner’s daughter at Lili’s Café:

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A Look at Critically Endangered Species in the Mekong

October 16, 2014

Cambodia & Vietnam: The Living Mekong, SFS faculty posts

Lisa Arensen, Ph.D.
Resident Lecturer in Ecosystems and Livelihoods
The Living Mekong, Cambodia & Vietnam

SFS Mekong students, staff, and faculty are on the road! Our pioneering gang has gamely bounced in a bus from one side of Cambodia to the other, and has only just returned from the provincial capital of Kratie, on the eastern banks of the mighty Mekong river.

It is flood season in Cambodia, and the Mekong is high and wide and turbid, the color of milk-drenched tea. Our focus in Kratie was upon two critically endangered riverine species, the Mekong Irawaddy dolphin and Cantor’s giant softshell turtle. The international conservation organizations World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Conservation International are working in partnership with the Cambodian government to protect these species, and we were very pleased that both organizations shared about their respective programs to students.

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Sustainable Marketplaces

October 15, 2014

Panama: Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, SFS faculty posts

Julie Robinson, Ph.D.
Resident Lecturer in Environmental Policy & Socioeconomic Values
Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, Panama

This week it was back to Panamá’s mainland to reconnect with Finca 51, home to a remarkable women’s artisanal cooperative that we were first introduced to last spring. As part of the Environmental Policy Directed Research project on community-based tourism in the previous semester, students met and interviewed members of the cooperative to learn about the governance structure and their vision to revive and market traditional Ngäbe arts and crafts to the growing number of tourists visiting Bocas del Toro each year.

Ostina Molina, a regional coordinator, served us delicious sancocho (a rich chicken soup prepared with local root vegetables cooked over an open fire) as we listened to stories that opened up a world of new ideas and learning.

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Learning Through Experience

October 14, 2014

SFS students, Turks & Caicos: Marine Resource Studies

Shane Hunt
Point Loma Nazarene University
Environmental Science
Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos Islands

Growing up and learning out of a textbook has always been a bit strange to me. I would learn a concept or a fact but never would see this in action outside of the text. It seemed like a foreign idea that applied only to the world of the textbook, not the world I was in.

The amazing thing about living at a field station is that the knowledge we are learning applies directly to the location we are in. It has been particularly powerful to learn about the lobster fishery here. Not only to learn about it, but to actually walk five minutes from the field station and watch the fishers come in, eager to unload their catch to the processing plant, get paid, and prepare for the next day on the water. We have the opportunity to talk to these fishers, to learn their opinions, and to pick their brains on their thoughts about Marine Protected Areas. This is truly something that could never be learned from a textbook, but something that can only be learned through experience.

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Think Like a River!

October 13, 2014

Peru: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Amazon, SFS faculty posts

Mauricio Herrera Rodríguez, Ph.D.
Resident Lecturer in Political Ecology
Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon, Peru

When trying to improve human-environment relations we ought to think with nature, and when we seek her advice, nature in its many manifestations teaches us to nurture life as a gift passed to others and to reject greed. We learn this from rivers that spread nutrients and flood wetlands and estuaries; the tropical forests as they reinvent themselves without artificial ingredients; and the gardens that feed our desires without overwhelming our bodies with fats and sugars.  During our first month at our Peru program, students have had the chance to experience nature at its peak, both in terms of diversity and its prodigious presence.

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Off-Campus Study Profile: Casandra Brocksmith

October 10, 2014

SFS alumni posts, Turks & Caicos: Marine Resource Studies

This post was originally published on DePauw University’s Live & Learn: The Hubbard Center Blog.

Name: Casandra Brocksmith
Off-Campus Study Program & Location:
The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)
What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management

How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island.

As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research.

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Nothing Short of Magical

October 9, 2014

Peru: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Amazon, SFS students

Alice Henry
University of Vermont
Community & International Development
Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon, Peru

As the seasons here in the Peruvian Amazon begin to shift, we have been entranced by nature’s many magical acts. We’ve listened to the pounding rain as we fall asleep every night under the cover of our mosquito nets. We’ve felt the most incredible claps of thunder that tumble down into the jungle’s valley that follow the wiry webs of lightening. And we’ve seen the most beautiful products of nature in the forms of flowers, seeds, birds, and beetles.

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Dirty, Exhausted, and Completely Satisfied

October 7, 2014

Kenya & Tanzania: Wildlife Management Studies, SFS students

Perrin Hess
University of Redlands
Environmental Studies
Wildlife Management Studies, Tanzania

We are now officially over one month into our stay here in Tanzania, and the time has definitely flown by. The past month has been a whirlwind of meeting and quickly making friends with forty one new people, having crazy cultural experiences, seeing some amazing wildlife, an outstanding five day expedition, and a slew of other events and experiences that I could list out, but would probably push me beyond a 350 word limit.

We settled into life here at Moyo Hill Camp extremely quickly, and in the past month this place has become the perfect home away from home. We just returned from a five day expedition where we camped only a short fifteen minute drive from the Tarangire National Park. This allowed us to spend two full days exploring the park, which I can safely say was the experience of a lifetime. We spent a half day observing the structure and behavioral tendencies of different groups of elephants, a half day performing a general game count to contribute to one of our professor’s research, and then a full day driving around and soaking up the sights and sounds of this wonderful park.

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Diving Into Work

October 6, 2014

SFS staff, Turks & Caicos: Marine Resource Studies

by the Waterfront Assistant Interns:
Anela Akiona, SFS Alum TCI Spring ’13
Connor Burke, SFS Alum TCI Spring ’13
Jess Bechhofer, SFS Alum TCI Spring ’13
Travis Gomez-Phillips, SFS Alum TCI Fall ’13
Emily Stokes, SFS Alum TCI Fall ’12
Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos Islands

It feels like we never left.

It has been almost two months since we stepped onto South Caicos soil as staff members, bringing along the many memories we have from our student days along with our excitement to grow and develop in the South Caicos community. It’s been an exciting transition into the intern role, and the projects we’ve been assigned are now in full swing. The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies (CMRS) is a busy place bustling with field research, student activity, and citizen science which contribute to our daily lives at the field station.

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