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My Adventure in Costa Rica - Emily Bachner, ERM major, Horticulture minor

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Posted: June 17, 2013

In the eight days I was in Costa Rica I learned more about sustainability and the environment than I could have in a full semester class.

I decided to go on the ERM 499A Costa Rica trip before I even accepted to Penn State. As an Environmental Resource Management Major and a Horticulture Minor I could not pass up the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica during spring break; having just enough time to fully experience the country while not taking out valuable time in the summer I could be working. The first day of class made me even more excited; I learned we were going to be investigating ecotourism, waste management, sustainable agriculture, and natural resource protection. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, having some of the most interesting plants and animals on the planet. To complement that we went to EARTH University, a University that is centered on sustainability in the humid BachnerCR3.pngtropics by teaching their students practical methods of sustainable farming, urban gardening, and many other practices that they can bring back to their home countries. At the University we learned sustainable farming practices such as using animal waste for fuel using a biodigester, how to utilize the most space for urban gardening, how to manage water resources through waste-water lagoons, and how to utilize every resource possible while still being sustainable.

Along with going to the University we experienced many other aspects of Costa Rica. We tried local food and drinks; I got to see the most beautiful parts of Costa Rica in hikes through the rainforest, up Volcano Poaz, and through a waterfall garden. Throughout these hikes I saw bright and colorful birds, two and three toed sloths, howler and spider monkeys, huge iguanas, and so many more animals. My favorite moment of the trip was going zip lining over the rainforest. We took a 30-minute tram ride up a mountain and took 10 lines down it. It was a beautiful experience where I got to see Costa Rica and its wildlife from a totally new angle.

My trip to Costa Rica was one of the best experiences of my life. In the eight days I was in Costa Rica I learned more about sustainability and the environment than I could have in a full semester class. I learned how to communicate with BachnerCR2.pngpeople even when there is a language barrier, and how to make international friends. We learned how to work in a group effectively and efficiently while enjoying ourselves in Costa Rica. By seeing the beauty of the plants and animals, and the dedication of the students who studied at EARTH my respect for nature, and my desire to protect it was renewed.  To a potential employer this experience shows so much in character and ability. Not only am I well traveled, I can easily adapt to a new environment and can learn quickly in sometimes stressful situations, such as where I cannot understand the language quite well. I also have a diverse knowledge that goes beyond my major courses; studying for just a few days at EARTH University I learned a lot about the environment and sustainable agriculture. This additional knowledge in traveling, and sustainable agriculture makes me a more marketable employee. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world, it has made me more passionate about the environment and more knowledgeable about the field I am interested in.