The program and research itinerary are scheduled. The flight tickets have been purchased. The medical forms and travel consent forms are filtering into my classroom. The reality of our adventure is emerging but it’s still five months away!
This coming summer a group of students and I will travel to Costa Rica to participate in the Ecology Project International (EPI) research program to study the nesting sites of leatherback turtles.
People often question my choice to spend two weeks of precious summer time to volunteer chaperoning students 24/7. I’ll admit, it’s not a vacation and it’s exhausting. However, I am given a front row seat to a rite of passage in which teenagers experience a once in a lifetime opportunity of rare contact with the wild. The students are offered new and unique perspectives to their relationship with the earth. As they face issues involving their life-style choices and the future of our world, these students will self-reflect and discover their opinions and where they stand. And what a gift to be part of that!
Of the students still at my school who joined me on the South Africa trip last year, we share a special bond. For those who continue to study with me in the classroom, we enjoy repeated references and curriculum connections to our research experiences from the summer. Daily the exclamation arises, “We learned about this in South Africa!” What a joy to witness the assimilation of authentic science and legitimate issues that link to greater learning later.
Of course, with my students I will also have great pleasure in our participation in research in the Costa Rican wild. So, being in a beautiful area while fostering real education that results in maturation of youth is a perfect way to start my summer holiday. Yes, there is great anticipation for this June adventure!