Working together to help preserve the environment- Sarah Weber

My experience with the DANTA Wildlife Conservation and Sustainability course showed me that there is much more to learn about conservation and ecology beyond the classroom. As a senior biology major, I have spent a fair amount of my college career learning about the importance of the rainforest in the health of the earth’s ecosystems and the tremendous biodiversity that exists in these areas.

However, no lecture or college class has compared to the lifelong lessons that I learned during my time on the Osa Peninsula. During my week at the Piro research station, I got to experience the rainforest ecosystem from many different angles. We had lectures on several topics of interest in both primates and wildlife conservation on the peninsula. These spanned a broad array of topics, from learning about the social factors that affect conservation in Osa to identifying the English and Tico (Costa Rican) names for all the mammals in the area.

Along with the lectures, we had hands on exercises throughout the experience. We got to learn how to navigate the rainforest via GPS, track monkey behavior through different observation methods, and design a camera trapping experiment based on our personal research interests. These exercises put our lectures into practice, allowing us to apply new skills to learn about conservation in a more practical way.

Teamed with these educational opportunities were various excursions, including but not limited to horseback riding along the beach, visiting and releasing turtles from a hatchery, and visiting a sustainable cacao plantation. These trips broadened my horizons even further, seeing the complexities behind conservation in the real world, and meeting all different types of people working to help preserve the environment.

This trip truly changed my perspective on not only conservation but the people who practice it. I will never forget the lessons I learned and the opportunities I got on the Osa Peninsula and will continue applying them throughout my life.

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