On Sunday, I’ll be boarding a plane headed for Belize to co-lead an Earth Expeditions course (www.earthexpeditions.org). A partnership between the Zoo and Miami University, the Earth Expeditions program immerses formal and informal educators in inquiry-based learning and community-based conservation in the field. Some of the participants are taking the course as part of a Global Field Program Master’s degree.
I’ve been so busy this summer that this trip kind of snuck up on me and now I only have a few days left to prepare and pack! Belize has had quite a bit of rain recently so I’m dreading the army of mosquitos we’re sure to battle. Long-sleeves and pants afford some protection against the bugs, but it gets so hot and humid that I’ll be drowning in sweat the whole time.
Other than that, I’m really looking forward to the trip! It’s been five years since I first traveled to Belize so I’m curious to see how it has changed.
Our first stop will be the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center (www.belizezoo.org), which is our in-country partner. We’ll also visit a Mayan ruin site (Altun Ha), the Community Baboon Sanctuary, and a local school while we’re there. To cool off, we’ll go cave tubing!
Then we hit the road, and the sea, as we head out to the cayes (islands). We’ll visit the Smithsonian research center on Carrie Bow Caye and spend a bit of time snorkeling around South Water Caye while conducting investigations on the coral reef ecosystem. We’ll even snorkel at night, which I’ll admit I’m a bit anxious about.
From there we travel to the Gales Point Manatee community on Southern Lagoon. Here we will practice field methods for marine studies, including sea turtle nest monitoring and sea grass sampling. If we’re really lucky, we might even spot a manatee lolling around the lagoon.
Then it’s back to the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center for one last night in the tropics before coming home. I don’t expect to have internet access while I’m in the field, but if I do, I’ll post an update to let everyone know how it’s going.