Kimberly Calvo loves meeting new people. She has also always enjoyed learning about the environment and has grown up in Guácimo, a small town near EARTH in Costa Rica’s Caribbean lowlands—an area abundant in rivers, rainforest and biodiversity. Kimberly hopes someday to study ecological tourism at a university level so that she can develop her leadership skills in that field. From July 24 to August 12, she has a chance to do so.
She and classmate Marisell Villegas, along with Luís Diego Esquivel—also both from Guácimo–have joined 33 students from the U.S, China, Sweden and other countries, in an international environmental leadership program created by Brown University and EARTH. The program, known as BELL: Costa Rica forms part of Brown University’s Biology, Conservation and Sustainability for High School Students (BELL) program.
As described on its website, “the three-week pre-college program introduces students to the theory and practice of conservation and sustainability in Costa Rica. Students study and explore some of the most bio-diverse regions in the world and meet with local leaders working to preserve these ecosystems and the human and non-human communities that live there.” In these ways, students will gain an understanding of “methods of tropical field ecology and conservation, marine biology and conservation in relation to fishing and coastal development, the impacts of tourism and development on local culture, and sustainable food production and consumption.”
The program has begun in the Conservation Area of Guanacaste, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Costa Rica’s northwest. There they have toured forest restoration projects, participated in a local dairy’s processes, met with sustainable business leaders, snorkeled in a coral reef, and camped at Playa Naranjo.
Starting Friday, August 3, they will spend a week on EARTH’s Guácimo campus. Here, students will learn about energy, waste management and sustainable food production. They will also, put their knowledge into practice through hands-on activities. Activities will include: exploring a large-scale conventional banana plantation and visiting EARTH’s own sustainable plantation, learning about the social and environmental issues related to banana cultivation, building and experimenting with small-scale solar panels and wind turbines, constructing bio-digesters, learning about organic agriculture in an urban setting, and practicing innovative waste management.
The students will then experience true cultural immersion by living with a local family on a small farm. They will also take part in daily activities on the farms during a visit to a model integrated farm in the community of La Argentina de Pocora, near EARTH’s campus.
Finally, the students will visit the Cahuita National Park and the Sloth Rescue Sanctuary in Costa Rica’s Talamanca region on the Caribbean coast.
When students return home, they will implement ecological action plans they have developed during the program with individualized guidance from their instructors. In this way, as students share their knowledge, BELL’s impact will spread.
To learn more about the program, we invite you to watch this video:
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