FIFSA: First in Family to Study Abroad is ERM 499: Costa Rica Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources, an embedded course that will travel to Costa Rica during spring break 2023.

Course Name

ERM 499: Costa Rica Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Agricultural Sciences- Environment Resource Management specifically for first generation college students.

About the Course

ERM 499 is an embedded course, meaning that a travel component has been "embedded into the course curriculum." This 3 credit course meets on campus during the spring semester and travels over Spring Break. In the first half of the semester, expert faculty will guest lecture to prepare you for the topics you will learn about in Costa Rica. You will also have the opportunity to network with ERM alumni who have studied abroad as students, and learn about intercultural skills. While in-country during spring break, you will explore the ecosystems and culture of Costa Rica, learning about how conservation and community are intertwined. Upon returning to Penn State, you will submit a travel journal to help reflect on what you have learned and the skills you have developed, and deliver presentations to your classmates and instructors about your experiences in Costa Rica.

About travel to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in Central America, situated between Panama and Nicaragua. The country consists of vast environments including tropical rainforests, dry regions, and coastal ecosystems. Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica. The trip will begin with a stay at EARTH University in Limón, Costa Rica. Here, students will have an opportunity to utilize the many resources the university has to offer including:

  • Sustainable agriculture production
  • A banana plantation
  • A butterfly sanctuary
  • An integrated dairy farm
  • A renewable energy activity
  • Visits local farms
  • Assist a local farmer to build a biodigestor
  • Poás Volcano

Why Should I Participate?

Students will earn a Communications Selection for the ERM major, credits toward the INTAG minor, experience with international travel, and learn about the diversity of Costa Rica; the course is also designated as an IL on the degree audit. The initial course requirements at Penn State, participation in the embedded portion in Costa Rica, and assignments upon return will earn a total of 3 credits.

Costa Rica is a great place to experience another culture, while learning about something within your area of study. This course allows students to learn about plant and animal biodiversity and explore different ecosystems like a tropical rainforest. Hiking and adventure components of the trip will appeal to students who love the outdoors, those in ERM and beyond. Students will have the opportunity to interact with local communities while learning valuable information about sustainable agriculture and natural resources.

How do I sign up?

Interested students should email Tammy Shannon, Academic Advising Coordinator and Course Instructor, Environmental Resource Management at: to learn about application deadline and course details.

Approximate Expenses

Estimated actual total cost is $2900 per student. We are currently working toward a student contribution of just $300 for qualified students toward the total travel costs which include:

  • Airfare
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • On-ground transportation

Students will complete an application for the course and scholarship.


  • Students must be first generation college students.
  • Student from all colleges and majors at Penn State University are eligible to apply. GPA and student conduct records will be checked and the course leaders reserve the right to limit enrollment at their discretion.
  • Students must be 18 years of age or older at the time of travel.
  • Student participants must present a valid passport. We will work with you to apply for your passport early in the Fall semester if you do not have one.
  • Student participants must have the ability to travel internationally. Accommodations for special circumstances will be made whenever possible.
  • Travel payments must be made on time. In addition to the group course grant, individual scholarship opportunities are available.

More Information

Ag Sciences Global


106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Ag Sciences Global


106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802