Vote in the 2014 Photo Contest!

September 19, 2014
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Voting is now open for the 2014 SFS Photo Contest! http://bit.ly/YPveOo

Excitement and Curiosity

September 18, 2014
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Panama: Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, SFS staff

Name: Cinda Scott, Ph.D.
Position: Center Director
Program: Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, Panama

The Fall 2014 Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies (TIBS) cohort arrived in Panama City filled with excitement and curiosity. We quickly made our way from the hustle and bustle of the city to the lush jungles of Gamboa to begin our orientation. On day 1, we hiked through the jungle where we saw sloths, monkeys, toucans, and spiders and learned to identify medicinal plants. In the afternoon, we traveled to the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal. Students learned about the economic importance of the canal and the role it has played in shaping the history and culture of the country. Students were lucky to be able to see the entire process of how ships move through the locks and they exchanged friendly hand waves with passengers on the boats.

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Land, People, and Culture

September 17, 2014
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Australia: Tropical Rainforest Studies, SFS faculty posts

Name: Justus Kiithia, Ph.D.
Position: Resident Lecturer in Environmental Policy & Socioeconomic Values
Program: Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

Our collaboration with the Mandingalbay Yidinji (MY) Aboriginal tribe continues to offer students interesting opportunities to interact with and learn from the first nation Australians. Just in their second week of arriving in Australia, students have spent a day and a half on the country (Aboriginal country). During the day, students were guided around the country by local indigenous rangers. They learned about the traditional uses of plants, toured some sites on the country where there are particular environmental issues at the land-sea interface, and listened to talks given by traditional owners of the land. In the evening, students pitched camp in one of the designated camping areas. They were the second group of foreigners (the first was SFS Summer 2014 students) to be allowed to camp on MY country.

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Just Like Humans

September 16, 2014
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Kenya & Tanzania: Wildlife Management Studies, SFS faculty posts

Name: John Kioko, Ph.D.
Position: Associate Professor in Wildlife Ecology
Program: Wildlife Management Studies, Tanzania

Today we spent the day studying baboons in Lake Manyara National Park. The lake, dubbed by Ernest Hemingway as the “loveliest lake in Africa,” straddles much of the east end of the park. To the western end of the park is the Eastern Great Rift Valley escarpment. The park has the highest density of olive baboons; thus it offers an ideal site for studying primate behavior. Baboons are very much like humans, with intricate social behaviors similar to us. The males leave the natal herd at 4 years and loosely associate with other males. The females establish matriarchal-based linear kinship bonds that are everlasting.

(Photo Credit: Alexa Diaz, Tanzania Summer 2013)

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First Impressions of SFS TCI

September 15, 2014
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SFS students, Turks & Caicos: Marine Resource Studies

Name: Shayna Cohen
School:
Grinnell College
Major:
Biology
Program:
Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI)

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I was looking for a chance to conduct field research while abroad. The SFS program allows me to learn about a niche in my desired field while experiencing life in the field under the guide of experienced mentors. The fact that I would be living in the tropics and diving weekly was definitely influential in my decision, as well.

What are you first impressions of the country?
When I first landed in Provo, took a boat to South Caicos, and again when I looked out of my dorm room window, I was overwhelmed by the aqua ocean. It was by far the clearest, brightest water I had ever seen. Once settled in, I was struck by the friendliness of the locals, the damage left over from hurricane Ike, and the simple beauty of the island.

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Few Places in the World More Exciting

September 12, 2014
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Peru: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Amazon, SFS staff

Name: Alejandro Camino D.C.
Position: Center Director
Program: Biodiversity & Development in the Amazon, Peru

There are few places worldwide more exciting than the headwaters of the Amazon, a rich biodiversity hotspot on the fringes of the ancient Inca Empire, not far from the World Heritage site of Machu Picchu in Peru. I have to admit this is an honor for me, a Peruvian ecological anthropologist, to have been chosen as the Center Director for a promising new SFS field station.

It’s even more rewarding to receive 12 enthusiastic students from the U.S. We’re housed in an old and enchanting rainforest hacienda now turned into a biological conservation and research center run by the prestigious Amazon Conservation Association, our partner in this fabled country in South America.

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First Impressions of SFS Peru

September 12, 2014
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Peru: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Amazon, SFS students

Name: Jonathan Fuentes
School:
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Major:
Sociology
Program:
Biodiversity & Development in the Amazon, Peru

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
SFS was different than any other program I looked into. Most of the programs just seemed to offer the typical classes I would normally take back at school, but in a different country. SFS, on the other hand, offered field experience, hands-on activities, learning outside of the classroom, and cultural immersion. I decided on SFS because I didn’t want to learn things and just sit around, I wanted to learn and put that knowledge into use. I wanted study various social and environmental topics, and apply it to my everyday experience in a new environment.

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First Field Trip Into the Rainforest

September 11, 2014
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Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies, SFS staff

Name: Gerardo Avalos, Ph.D.
Position: Center Director
Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica

We started the fall semester program with lots of enthusiasm and good energy. 32 students arrived eager to learn about the challenges of balancing conservation with economic gain in a country immersed in high levels of species diversity and facing major economic and political changes. For many of our students this is their first time in a tropical rainforest. Thus, our first field trip (gira) makes a long-lasting impression, and that is why we strive to make it compelling.

Leaving the Center for three days, we first went to the rainforest of Tirimbina Biological Reserve in La Virgen de Sarapiquí on the Caribbean Slope, where we did our first orientation walk in the rain. Tirimbina has impressive rainforests situated along the margins of the Río Puerto Viejo. This area has a long tradition of biological research done by famous scientists as well as environmental activists. In addition to keeping a busy research agenda, Tirimbina has a very positive impact in La Virgen, educating the local population about the benefits of the rainforest.

Center Director Gerardo Avalos leading an orientation hike (Photo Credit: Quinn Bergeon)

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First Impressions of SFS Costa Rica

September 11, 2014
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Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies, SFS students

Name: Hannah Silverfine
School: Clark University
Major: Geography and Spanish
Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose to study abroad with SFS because the classes provided by the program in Costa Rica were everything I was most interested in studying, no matter where I would be. In addition, the classes were described as being taught with integrated field studies and Directed Research, in a Spanish speaking country — what could be better?

Students getting to know each other at the airport (Photo Credit: Quinn Bergeon)

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First Impressions of SFS Australia

September 10, 2014
Categories:

Australia: Tropical Rainforest Studies, SFS students

Name: Jessika Dorcas
School:
Elon University
Major:
Environmental and Ecological Science, GIS Minor
Program:
Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I knew I wanted to study in Australia since I was in high school. Through several changes in academic major and life plans, I decided to just do what I want to do for now and figure out what I’m passionate about. I knew I loved ecology, so I used this opportunity as a way to see if research would be something I want to pursue further. And living in the rainforest isn’t a bad bonus.

What are you first impressions of the country?
I’ve loved Australia ever since I landed in Brisbane. Even from the airport I could see birds that I’ve never seen before. I think the weirdest thing for me was riding in a car that was driving on the opposite side of the road. Round-a-bouts are especially scary. I’m getting used to it though!

What are you first impressions of the field station?
Since I arrived here, I’ve been excited for every walk around the Center. We are right in the middle of the rainforest so we’ve seen a ton of wildlife just on our walks to class. We’ve joked that being here almost feels like summer camp because of the cabins and different activities that we do every day.

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