Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Miss Jenn's Expedition to Belize

Hi, Miss Jenn here!
I am very excited to
share with you an
amazing opportunity
I had
this summer!
Less than two months ago, I was hiking through a tropical rainforest searching for howler monkeys, snorkeling along the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, tracking the endangered Antillean manatee, going on a moonlight sea turtle walk, exploring the ruins of Altun Ha an ancient Mayan city, touring the "best little zoo in the world", and learning and laughing with Belizean teachers and students. All of these exciting, memorable “firsts” for me took place in the beautiful country of Belize. Referred to by Belizeans as “The Jewel”, this gem of a country lies on the eastern coastline of Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. Although Belize is only slightly larger than Massachusetts, the country formally known as British Honduras(until 1973), has more species of birds, butterflies, flowers, and trees than found in all of the United States!

It was thanks to Earth Expeditions that I, as a nature enthusiast, environmental educator, and traveler, was able to spend ten amazing days exploring, experiencing, and learning about the diverse ecosystems, important conservation projects, and fascinating cultures found in Belize.

Earth Expeditions, created in conjunction with Project Dragonfly at Miami University and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, is a global conservation program offering university courses in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Through Field and Zoo Expedition courses, the program’s mission is to build an alliance of individuals with firsthand knowledge of inquiry-driven, community-based learning for the benefit of ecological communities, student achievement, and global understanding. I was instantly attracted to Earth Expeditions because of the program’s inspiring mission, hands-on inquiry-driven format, extraordinary field locations and affiliations, interesting course themes, and talented faculty.

I was drawn to the Belize Field Expedition course
because I was interested in the forest and marine ecology-focused course themes and related conservation projects, and I have always wanted to experience a Neotropical country, climate, and culture firsthand. From the moment my plane began its flight path over Belize and all I could see out my window was a blanket of dark green bordered by aqua blue waters, I was overcome with the country’s beauty, exoticness, and uniqueness.

Every day, I was learning and experiencing something new, interesting, and rewarding. In addition to all the valuable knowledge and meaningful experiences I gained during the Expedition, I also came home with fresh ideas and perspectives, new friends and important contacts, and a better understanding of what it is I want to do and accomplish both professionally and personally. The trip got my creative juices flowing, and I am excited and inspired to incorporate my wonderful experiences into my teachings here at LENSC. In short, the Belize Field Expedition is synonymous with worthwhile. It was my time and money well spent!

Although the field component is over with, I still have three more months of coursework & class discussions via Dragonfly Workshops Web-based learning community. Upon completion in
December, I will receive 7 graduate credits from my alumna mater, Miami University, that can be counted towards the University’s new Global Field Program Master's Degree which I am planning on applying to come fall. Now, I just need to decide which Field Expedition I want to go on next summer…Kenya, Trinidad, Thailand…decisions, decisions(and an exciting one at that!) stay tuned!

If you have any questions about
Earth Expeditions and/or Miami
University’s Global Field Program,
please do not hesitate to contact
me at

For additional information on the programs and the field sites I visited in Belize, click on the above underlined words and/or visit the websites listed below:
Earth Expeditions:
Earth Expeditions –Belize: Forest & Marine Ecology:
Miami University’s Global Field Program:
The Belize Zoo:
The Community Baboon Sanctuary:
Gales Point Manatee Lodge:
Maya site, Altun Ha, information:

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