This week UGA Costa Rica hosted a special group of middle school students as part of the Fit4Earth scientific immersion program. For the fourth consecutive year, this organization, founded by Gaby von Breymann and Pat de la Cruz, has partnered with UGA Costa Rica to deepen students’ understanding of global environmental issues.
As part of this experiential learning program, thirty students from the Country Day School in Alajuela visited the UGA campus in Monteverde, where they spent a week learning about butterfly conservation, carbon offset efforts, how biodigesters work, the importance of water quality, waste management and sustainability.
By partnering with UGA Costa Rica, Fit4Earth enables students to engage with local experts such as José Montero, UGACR’s Research Coordinator, a butterfly researcher of 15 years and an author of two books on butterflies and moths. As Gaby Benitez, a resident naturalist from Austin, Texas, explained, this program provides an exciting opportunity for students to “get involved out of the classroom with learning experiences that are more hands-on.”
By visiting UGA Costa Rica, students from Country Day School, the first K-12 LEED certified school in Costa Rica, gain real world experience that can only be found in immersive, engaging programs like Fit4Earth. As resident naturalist Insiyaa Ahmed explained, “the best way to learn is to do it yourself.” This week, Country Day School students took ownership for their education and their environment in a unique living classroom.
Clara, a 6th grade student from Argentina, expressed the positivity of her experience even though she first felt hesitant to attend the week-long trip. Even though she didn’t have many friends in attendance, Clara found the chance to connect with her classmates while taking part in activities such as camera trap research and water quality testing. “I really like it and I think that I’m going to do it again,” she said in regards to the program.
Aja, a Country Day School science teacher from Gwinnett, Georgia, said that the Fit4Earth program not only educates her students on the importance of environmental conservation, but also takes them out of their everyday urban environment and into a sustainable living community where they can learn to live more simply. By partnering with Fit4Earth, UGA Costa Rica can continue in its mission of educating and empowering future generations to protect the planet starting right here in the students’ stunning backyard of Costa Rica.
Blog post and images made by Rachel Eubanks.