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Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Costa Rica Travel Course

Experience the "Pura Vida" approach to life and the environment.Costa Rica is internationally known for its leadership in ecological conservation and commitment to the environment. It is known most for its large number of beautiful beaches and forests rich with biodiversity. You will love your Costa Rica experience for its many treasures, from white beaches to the wonderful plant and animal life in the rain forest.

This three credit course immerses students for approximately two weeks in the tropical ecosystems of Costa Rica. Student experience is centered on a living, working relationship with the staff at Carara National Park. Carara National Park manages 4,700 hectares (11,600 acres) of transitional tropical forest containing critical watersheds, tremendous biodiversity, and threatened species such as scarlet macaws and American crocodiles. Located on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, Carara is characterized by high biological diversity resulting from its unique juxtaposition between the wetter forests of the south and the drier northern deciduous forests. Course topics take a system's approach, exposing students to a wide range of biological, geological, and socioeconomic issues related to Costa Rican ecology and conservation. Student interaction with park staff enhances group discussions by providing a Costa Rican perspective to Costa Rica's natural resource challenges. Two overnight excursions expose students to additional tropical ecosystems, geological processes, and land management approaches. The extensive student exposure to Carara's moist tropical forest provides a solid baseline from which students can build a systematic understanding of the similarities and differences among Costa Rica's varied tropical ecosystems. Required activities include attendance at a minimum of four pre-departure meetings, and while in Costa Rica, several off-site field trips, prolonged hiking on uneven trails, and an ability to conduct vigorous activities under tropical conditions. Spanish language skills are not required.

Program Design

This service-learning travel course puts UW-Green Bay's vision and values into action by inviting students and faculty
from a broad cross-section of disciplines to participate in hands-on service learning with the facilities and staff of the
Carara National Park in Costa Rica. This nationally designated biological reserve is in a Pacific Coast rainforest and
has areas of dry, wet and cloud forest. The 12,952-acre reserve is one of Costa Rica's last habitats for scarlet macaws
and has rich biodiversity. Due to its location, the reserve has received neither large numbers of tourists nor extensive
scientific study.

Students and professors from the UW-Green Bay annually live and work with the staff at Carara National Park, Costa Rica for the first two weeks in January. Direct student involvement with park staff and park-initiated projects provides students with a Costa Rican perspective to their natural resource challenges. Effective conservation of public assets, such as Carara National Park, requires support from surrounding communities. Thus, in an attempt to reduce future poaching and to enhance relationships between Carara and the surrounding communities, Carara National Park has asked for our assistance in the development of school programs targeted at neighboring communities. Project Goals include Improving local community knowledge of and support for Carara National Park by working with park staff to engage students and teachers through assistance with school supplies, teaching aids, and educational opportunities. Providing financial support to bring local school children and their teachers to Carara National Park and for educational programs highlighting the unique resources of the park, its mission and conservation efforts. Students from UW-Green Bay will collect school supplies and raise money to purchase supplies that they will distribute to teachers and students in schools adjacent to Carara National Park during the January 2008 travel course to Costa Rica. Additional funds will cover the transportation of school groups to Carara and for hands-on educational programs.


Students stay in a biological station at Carara National Park and hotels during two excursions. Food is also provided. All interested students may obtain an application form from the Office of International Education (OIE) located in
Cofrin Library 207. There is no foreign language requirement for this program.

Eligibility and Language Requirements

All interested students may obtain an application form from the Office of International Education (OIE) located in
Cofrin Library 207. There is no foreign language requirement for this program.

  • This program is open to UW-Green Bay students, non-UW-Green Bay students, staff, faculty and community members
  • Demonstrate personal maturity, motivation, flexibility and an international perspective.
  • This travel program involves strenuous activities in tropical environments. To protect the health and safety of
  • participants, all applicants will be tested for physical fitness.

For more information and to apply see