Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Toyota International Teacher Program

The Toyota International Teacher Program Trip to Costa Rica
"The Toyota International Teacher Program is an international professional-development opportunity for U.S. secondary school teachers focusing on environmental stewardship and global connectedness. Selected teachers travel on a short-term (2-3 week) study tour to a country that is at the forefront of innovative solutions to environmental challenges. The teachers explore environmental issues through hands-on activities and incorporate what they learn into interdisciplinary and solution-focused lesson plans to share with their students and communities in the U.S."

I applied for this program in April of 2011 and considered it a long shot.  I was honored to find out this summer that I had been one of 26 teachers who were selected out of nearly 400 applicants nationwide. I am very grateful to Toyota International for funding this program and for my selection for the trip.
I can't wait!  As an entomologist and amateur herpetologist, I look at Costa Rica as "ground zero." Between poison arrow frogs, giant rhinoceros beetles, bushmasters, coral snakes and the deadly (and beautiful) fer-de-lance, this is a place I have always wanted to see. I can't wait to see this country, experience the rain forest, learn more about global environmental issues and bring this experience back into my classroom, school and wider community.

The Trip to Costa Rica
We will start out at an orientation in San Antonio and from there we head to San Jose. In San Jose, we will learn about Costa Rica's approach to environmental challenges and solutions.  We will be visiting a private, bilingual school and visit an archaeological site near the city.

We will then head to Guacimo to Earth University to look at Sustainable Agriculture including on-site farm visits.  We will be visiting local schools and take part in home-stay visits at local farms.

Then we will move to Sarapiqui to look at Biodiversity visiting Biological Reserves.  We will also be involved with service projects associated with native plants and invasive species and look at Cacao and Chocolate production.

After that we will be visiting Arenal Volcano National Park where we will study Ecotourism and Geologic History.

Finally it will be back to San Jose for a workshop on environmental issues and carbon neutrality.  

Then the task will be to bring the experience back to my classroom and to our wider community!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Costa Rica Blog Up and Running


Welcome to my Costa Rica blog!  I am thrilled to be part of the Toyota International Teacher Program trip to Costa Rica next month!  My school community and students are very excited about this opportunity and are looking forward to hearing about the trip.

Right now, I'm working with my students on biodiversity and habitat/ecosystem studies which they are really connecting with.

Last week we took a field trip to a Rich Cove Forest in the North Carolina Nature Conservancy's Bat Cave Preserve in Hickory Nut Gorge (at peak leaf color!) to experience ecosystem and biodiversity differences in western North Carolina.  We hiked to the entrance of the cave (access to the cave is restricted right now because of white nose fungus), and found many interesting organisms that are hard to find just a few miles away in Hendersonville.  Here is a Carlolina Mantis which is our indigenous praying mantis.

Carolina Mantis
Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

In September I spent a week with 8th grade backpacking in Mountain Bald and Spruce Fir ecosystems off the Blue Ridge Parkway in western NC. It was an awesome experience.  Many thanks to Adventure Treks and their staff for making this possible

Sam's Knob
View from Sam's Knob

Tennent Mountain
Crossing Stream

Welcome to my blog!