First and foremost, a big THANK YOU to all our spring 2012 QERC students, participating faculty, and naturalists who all contributed to making this years program one of the best yet. To our students, each one of you added a positive component in terms of your attitudes, work ethic, service to the San Gerardo community, and your worship to a life-giving God. To our faculty, thank you once again for your time, efforts, and exceptional guidance in providing above-average education.  

And to our participating naturalists, thank you for your in-depth knowledge of Costa Rican natural history, as well as giving important social context for all you shared.

Our students participated in three important areas of education and service throughout their time here that all contributed to having such a successful semester. First, our students had direct, “hands-on” curriculum in the areas of tropical forest ecology, applied cultural learning, and creation stewardship. This came by way of engaging with the world beyond the traditional classroom and laboratory.  Most time was spent exploring the neo-tropical montane oak forest, which makes up QERC’s backyard. However, we also spent time exploring the full diversity of Costa Rica biomes by observing the Olive Ridley sea turtles off the coast of Ostional, carefully stepping over the Blue-Jeans frog on the trails of La Selva, posing beside (yeah, beside) sloths for photos, and waking up many mornings to the calls of howler monkeys.

Second, the students were able to participate in field research that taught important methodology for future studies. These project included: Jay and Nicole tracking anoles (a cool kind of lizard found here in our cloud forest), Amy and Kenzie tracking down the resplendent quetzal and nesting sites, Bree hiking through forest undergrowth to identify and catalogue Aguacatillo tress, Lauren and Kate balancing through the currents of the Savegre River for the sake of collecting water samples, Jenny and Kelcie finding (and growing) bacteria species home to the bromeliad, Jessie using motion-sensitive cameras to catalogue the wildlife of the Robles Reserve (which revealed some very cool pictures of puma and jaguar!), and Addison plotting out tree topography with relation to seeds and seed distribution.

Lastly, the students were able to study and research environmental topics, while giving such topics social significance through service projects aimed at increasing sustainability. This year, we traveled to Nicaragua to work in a small village located in absolute rural countryside. We spent approximately four days building an enclosed area for a vegetable garden, as well as building an aqueduct to provide fresh water to the garden.  At QERC, we recognize that environmental science and research does not happen in a vacuum, but that our actions all have social consequences.  It is a part of the QERC philosophy to recognize how our work can affect society, policy, and local communities so as to enrich one through the participation of the other.

Our 2012 program took us down offbeat trails, the canopies of rainforests, and communities throughout Latin America, and into meaningful relationship with God and one another. A successful semester indeed!

Best wishes to all the 2012 QERC students!  We wish you success in your endeavors and hope your experiences with us at QERC forever shape your perspectives on our world through a healthy and critically-thinking way.

QERC Staff