Forest Trails for Hands-on Learning

Our host partner in Costa Rica is Colegio Técnico Profesional de Santa Elena or Technical Professional Secondary School of Santa Elena, located in a small town in the cloud forest region of Monteverde. It is called Colegio for short, which means secondary school, and houses grades 7 through 12. This technical high school has over 400 students and 40 teachers. It is the only public secondary school in Santa Elena and is closely linked with the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. This region of Costa Rica is known for its extremely high level of biodiversity and is a place where scientists from all over the globe come to study the flora, fauna, and ecosystem of this beautiful region of Central America.

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Part of Colegio campus

In ninth grade students at Colegio must choose a major such as agriculture, rural tourism, ecotourism, and gastronomy – all very common activities in the region, which depends greatly on tourism. Students graduate with a specialization in one such area, similar to a major at university. Organic farming, sustainable tourism, and conservation are all areas of study at Colegio. Students studying rural tourism or ecotourism have the opportunity for real hands-on learning in the forest trail on the school campus. Students often work on clearing and building trails in the forest, catching insects for study and identification, making signs with the names of species found (identified by their scientific name in Latin as well as in Spanish and English).

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Heading off to catch some insects!

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On the hunt!


Got one!


And another!


Blueberries from a bush in the forest on campus


View of school buildings from forest trail


Wow! Look at all the bugs we got!


Volunteer Jenn helping make signs for trail with students

The day these photos were taken, the students caught TONS of insects and worked on conserving, identifying, and learning about them.

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