This summer, 10 Lee University students spent 22 days in Costa Rica doing field research, exploring various tropical forest ecosystems, and studying their biodiversity, climate, and human use.
The group headed by Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Thaddeus McRae teamed up with a small organization committed to sustainable development and compared the effects of changing altitude on the community of existing organisms.
“ME? I will remember this trip for the rest of my life,” said James “Cole,” Shelton, a junior pre-professional biology major. “The friendships and relationships I have with locals and with fellow Lee students and faculty Connections will be made that will carry me further into the future. The beauty we have experienced as well as the pain we received when we learned about the good and bad of human interactions with nature, especially in Tropical ecosystems, learned, are lessons I will not forget. They have changed my view of nature and God’s interactions with humanity through his creation. I? learned to see God in a new light as I? saw his character and his Intention in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. “
As part of the trip, the group visited six national parks, two oceans, two volcanoes and a cave and was able to hike, climb and swim in different places. They also looked at how people in the ecosystems live in different ways that differ in sustainability, met with locals and delved into different methods of growing coffee.
“One of the benefits of studying biology and ecology is discovering the importance of diversity in creating stability and resilience, and then gaining an aesthetic and practical appreciation for that diversity,” said Dr. McRae. “This trip was an opportunity to see how people in different cultures see their place in the ecosystem and how this affects their actions and how their actions affect the people and ecosystems around them. The things we learn make us wonder if we love our neighbors well and look for ways to live more sustainably in our own ecosystems. “
The trip was the field component of a new biology course in Lee, Tropical Ecology and Conservation, and was also offered as a Global Perspectives trip for students to earn cross-cultural credits required for graduation.
For more information on Lee’s biology department, visit https://www.leeuniversity.edu/academics/arts-sciences/nsm/biological-science/.