For many years now, Osa Aventura has been running educational and adventure programs for high school students. Our extensive experience has taught us how to structure these programs to be effectively educational through first hand experience; to be character-building through testing adventure activities; and to be inspirational and awaken students’ young minds to interests and passions that in their limited experience of life would not have been exposed to, or aware that they had. Many of our former students have pursued careers based on the passion and interest aroused in them during our programs. Indeed, Osa Aventura personnel have continued to mentor students on their careers long after their time with us!
Our programs are flexible in structure and duration, but all include the three elements for our students of 1) learning, 2) experiential growth and 3) awakening of latent passions and interests. In structure, Osa Aventuras’ student programs fulfill these objectives through the following:
Prior Reading. Before coming on your educational visit to the Osa Peninsula we recommend that the class does some background reading about tropical rainforests. Here is some recommend reading: “Tropical Nature: life and Death in the Rainforests of Central and South America” by Adrian Forsyth & Ken Miyata, is highly informative and relevant to our study area. “A Neotropical Companion: an Introduction to the Animals, Plants & Ecosystems of the New World Tropics” by John Kricher. “Jungles: A Journey through the Heart of the Rainforest” by Charlotte Uhlenbroek. Also recommended is some background research in the history and culture of Costa Rica.
Workbook. We provide a free workbook on the character and nature of tropical rainforests. The workbook provides a wealth of accessible information about the dynamics of tropical rainforests; questions to test the students understanding of what they are learning; species profiles, research that students must access from the literature we provide; journal space for students to pen their personal impressions of their experiences; and a checklist of animals they may encounter to can keep a record of what species they have seen.
Tutorials & Presentations. The educational theme runs through all of the recreational and adventure activities the students engage in. Tutorials are given both in the field and class room setting. Where possible we include presentations by resident scientists about their researches on the Osa.
Work Assignments. These are tailored to the wants of the accompanying teachers. Work assignments include either group or individual research projects in the field.
Hands-On. Our educational methods also include touch, taste and smell, to intensify the students learning. Our experienced tutors will ensure none of the animals they touch or hold is in any way dangerous, and that none of the fruit and plants they taste and smell is in any way harmful. In our experience, though, this intimacy with nature has proven to be a very powerful way of exciting interest and passion in our students. It can dispel groundless fears and realize latent talents! (Alex with snake!)
Participation in Research. For the first time this year our students participated in a turtle conservation program being run by a conservation foundation, ‘Friends of the Osa’. It proved to be very edifying and exciting for our students. Our students assisted scientists at night to patrol an important turtles nesting beach, tag nesting turtles and collect their eggs for secure placement in hatcheries. Prior to this work the students were given a presentation on turtle biology, status and the methods used to conserve them.
Trekking. All itineraries of our student programs include at least one day-long trek or hike through the hills, lush rainforests and beaches of the Osa Peninsula. These treks are testing, designed that way to push these young people in ways most have not been pushed before. For some, it expands the realm of their perceived capabilities, for others it engenders in them a thirst for adventure exploration, which many will carry into their later lives. For all, these treks give a sense of fulfillment and achievement - despite their aches and pains, and wet and muddy boots!
Night Tours. Another adventure, and novel experience to most students, that Osa Aventura includes its programs is going out at night looking for nocturnal creatures. This activity never fails to excite the young, inquisitive minds of our students. When shown how to use their flashlights to find strange animals by eye-shine, a whole new world of wonders opens up to them!
Although there is a blurred distinction between recreation and adventure, the following activities are contracted out by Osa Aventura to specialist, licensed operators who comply with the strictest safety regulations. The following is a selection of the recreational activities that we can include in our itineraries:
Kayaking on the calm waters of Golfo Dulce and up one of the many local rivers.
Canopy Tour, with a five - stage of zip-line through lush rainforest.
Boat Tour. This is a full-day cruise of the Golfo Dulce aboard a 52 foot yacht. The days’ itinerary includes whale and dolphin watching, snorkeling & swimming, and a visit to an animal rehabilitation center.
Community work for students is an option Osa Aventura avails to high school students. This work includes painting and minor repairs to community schools, providing schools with educational materials, clearing trails and building tent platforms for community eco-tourism projects, erecting fences to protect live stock and building chicken coups – with the increase in wildlife on the Osa Peninsula, as a result of effective conservation measures, many of the community farmers are now suffering losses to their live stock and farm produce to jaguars, pumas, ocelots, peccaries and tapirs!
Osa Aventuras’ “Education Program for High School Students” suggests that school groups come armed with individual or class projects. But, keep these project simple, and as an aside to the core educational aspect of the program. While small projects do add another dimension of interest to the students’ visits to the Osa, they also illustrate the difficulty of asking questions of an environment unfamiliar to them. In our experience, many of these small projects fail to answer the question they ask (because of the mismatch between theory and practice), which in itself can be more instructive if the reason its failure is analyzed – especially useful to students who wish to pursue a career involving field work!
Depending on the duration of your visit, our “Education program for High School Students” will visit several venues. But our core venue is the “Osa Biodiversity Center” (OBC) (www.osaconservation.org). This research center is run by a conservation foundation called “Friends of the Osa” (initiated by the well known biologist, Adrian Forsyth). At the OBC many research project are being conducted, which the students can learn about (through presentations) or participate in (the save the sea turtle program, for example).
“EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM FOR HIGHSCHOOL STUDENTS” STAFF:
Mike Boston (Program Leader). BSc. Honors degree in Biology, specializing in rainforest dynamics.
Sandy Blakemore (program Organizer). BSc. in Wildlife Biology.
Ifijenia Garitamond. BSc. in Tropical Biology.
Rebeca Quiros. BSc. in Tropical Biology.
Daniela Solano. Bsc. in Tropical Biology; MSc. In the Ecology of the Central America Squirrel Monkey.
Jorge Lagaespada. Trekking guide and safety advisor.