Friday, June 22, 2012

Hasta Luego!  Until Next Time!

Well... the expedition is over and we are all struggling to get back to our usual day-to-day routines.  The marvelous memories of this venture are forever cinched to my heart and, in places, to my skin!  I thank all of you who made this possible either in the background, or on-site.   My most sincere thanks go to Dr. Heather Judkins for her 200% effort to ensure this expedition was a success!  It was certainly a pleasure and fun to collaborate with you!  Also, my most sincere thanks to the entire USFSP Study Abroad Program and Fiscal Staff (especially Wendy Baker, Mai Huynh and Jason Morris), for taking care of all student program coordination and financial details.  You folks ROCKED!

I also would like to thank USFSP College of Arts and Sciences Dean Frank Biafora, Chancellor's office (especially Dr. Norine Noonan), and the Biology Department (especially Dr. Debby Cassill and Dr. Melanie Whitmore) for believing in the vision and mission of this expedition and for facilitating its realization.

Also, special thanks to USFSP Bookstore for providing USFSP t-shirts to all students.  The t-shirts were worn well and often ;) !  Muchas gracias to all of the Turrialba Lodge staff (Don Tony Lachner, Don Fausto, Macho, and las muchachas), Organization for Tropical Studies (Kenneth Alfaro), and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute staff (Dra. Nelida Gomez and Gabriel Jacome).  Lastly, I would like to thank my wonderful mother (Sra. Matilde Mendez) and the rest of her Habitat for Humanity staff for providing us with an unforgettable experience!

To our students, I have to say that this experience has meant as much to me as I see it has meant to you.  We have all grown as individuals, and certainly as a group.  Our moments trekking to the summit, swimming in hot springs, sliding down the jungle, and being withing millimeters of fire coral will never be forgotten!  May you always stay along the sunny side of the trail... and periodically remember to tune-in to those wave orbitals that rock our biology! ;)

Feeling Blessed

Dr. Herzfeld

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rachael Moran--Final Post


I learned so much on this trip. The science was important but the lessons that will linger on in my mind till I'm old and grey were ones about discovering new cultures, new perspectives, and new people. I enjoyed every experience while abroad, even the difficult moments (like thinking my heart was going to explode while hiking up a volcano), because without struggle no one would ever appreciate the finer moments. I learned that life will find a way despite volcanic eruptions and other geological events of a magnitude beyond imagination. I learned that after 5 years of French in school, if someone asks me a question in Spanish, I will still answer them in French. I learned that salsa dancing is every bit as difficult as it looks. I'll never forget all the beautiful people and places I was fortunate enough to discover. I can't wait to share some of my experience with everyone at the symposium on the last day of class.

Special thanks to Dr. J and Dr. H, and my family and friends for their support and guidance.

Thoughts from Dr. J

Turrialba Volcano Park Entrance

Who knew that when this picture was taken, we would accomplish so much in our six week adventure?

As I read through the blog, I am in tears- of joy because I am so ultimately proud of the entire group.  I know I sound like a mom (again) but I am truly impressed with every student in this group of first-timers for the course.  You have far exceeded my expectations in so many areas:  handling group dynamics with grace, willing to try the unknown, conquering some rigorous portions of the trip, being patient with Dr. H and myself all the way through, being mature, respectful, and insightful in all situations that were presented along the way.  You have truly done USFSP proud and I hope you'll take your memories and lessons learned from this course into your world after college.

As for me, I have learned the following:  that I still don't enjoy some tropical fruits and treats (imagine my face with those boiled peanut tasting things), that geology really isn't all that bad (thanks, Dr. H!), that I desperately need to learn Spanish and more about plants, that I couldn't have led this crew without Dr. H, and that I absolutely love waking up to the call of the Howlers.

Thanks to everyone at USFSP that has made this course a reality for us!  Truly amazing experience for me that I will cherish always.

Pura Vida BGPG 2012! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lena Wray: Final post

Pose of success after the 11 mile, 10 hour hike to the summit of the Turrialba Volcano
This trip has been nothing short of extraordinary. Beginning our journey as scientists, we faced the feat of the Turrialba volcano, which at times required a 45 degree angle hike up hill. We sat in an empty room for hours on end with nothing but field guides in hand. Each group put together a hypothesis from scratch, and obtained remarkable data. I am glad I went on this trip so I could fully immerse myself in being a scientist. I now not only have a general idea of what a biodiversity study is, but I have also helped to complete one which could possibly get published. From hiking to volcano summits in the clouds to being eye-to-eye with a sloth and her baby, this trip will forever stay with me throughout all the places science takes me.

Last One!

  Well as far as I feel I still am on Panama time.  This trip has been a real life changing one.  It seems I miss my 5 am howler monkey wake up calls already but I will push on. Hiking up volcanoes, thunderstorms that deafen, driving down winding mountain paths, and waking up in the Caribbean and seeing the Pacific by lunch time are some of the little things that I became accustom to.  We were worked real hard by our professors but in the end they forged us into students with a scientific mind.  We woke up and conducted our field research in some very unforgiving terrain and EVERYONE made it happen, I am very proud to have been part of this program.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Judkins and Dr. Herzfeld for pushing me like they did. I will remember this entire trip my entire career.

Krishna Nayak

Boy does time fly when your having fun! I can't believe that we are home already. Three weeks flew by before you could blink but maybe that is because we hiked to the summit of the second largest volcano in Costa Rica (Turrialba), got up close and personal with sloths in the tropical rain forest, and snorkeled among some of the world's most diverse coral reefs. It is impossible to sum this trip up into one word but INCREDIBLE would come pretty close. I can't believe I was lucky enough to be given this opportunity and it is something that I will remember for a lifetime. We all grew into one happy little family and I will remember the class of BGPG2012 forever! Dr. Judkins and Dr. Herzfeld thank you so very much for taking us under your wing and teaching us what it is like to think like a scientist and actually conduct research out in the field. (Not as easy as it looks) I can't express the amount of knowledge I have gained from this study abroad experience but I know I have been forever changed as a student and a person. I only hope to continue to travel the world one day as a scientist and explore all that it has to offer!   


Britt :)

Honestly, I was a little nervous before we left on our three week journey, I was going to be living with people that I just met, 24/7. what I discovered was a wonderful group of people that have influenced my life forever. the experiences that we shared together will always be with me. Love you guys!!!

I am extremely grateful  to Dr. Herzfeld and Dr. Judkins for putting this trip together. through your direction I have been exposed to what field research is truly all about, a lot of hard work and commitment and I enjoyed every moment of it! This experience has shown me why I decided to return to school.

Thank you for everything.


A. Robert Collins