by Shannon Farley
In addition to groundbreaking scientific research and day tours that introduce tourists to a complete Costa Rican rainforest experience, another specialty of Veragua Rainforest Eco-adventure are educational programs for high school and university students.
Recently, a group of University of Georgia students visited the Veragua Foundation for Rainforest Research along with Professor Emeritus Ron Carroll of the Odum School of Ecology at UGA. Professor Carroll has been leading UGA student groups to Veragua Rainforest every year since 2012. His specialty is conservation ecology. He is the former director of the UGA Institute of Ecology and former co-director of the River Basin Center.
“He has impacted so many students with his love and passion for nature,” said Rocio Lopez, Educational Program Coordinator for Veragua Rainforest. “It is always an honor for us to have Professor Carroll and the UGA students visit.”
Said Professor Carroll: “We loved our visit to Veragua. The opportunity to participate on some of the research projects was a great experience for our students. Thank you so much!”
Professor Carroll took a moment to tell us more about why he developed the UGA educational program with Veragua Rainforest.
What led you to begin the UGA educational program with Veragua in 2012?
We heard about Veragua from two colleagues: Jose Montero, a lepidopterist with UGA’s campus site in San Luis (Monteverde, Costa Rica), and Richard Hall, an ornithologist on the faculty of the University of Georgia.
What has kept you returning to Veragua Rainforest all these years?
Clearly, the amazing biodiversity and the helpful and knowledgeable staff and scientists.
What do you and your UGA students enjoy most at Veragua Rainforest?
My specialty is entomology (the study of insects) and I can always find new and interesting species. Students really appreciate learning about the conservation projects and, especially, the opportunity to participate in on-going projects.
Why is Veragua Rainforest a good place for educational groups?
The opportunity to see conservation research projects (the frog restoration ponds) and the museum and live animal displays are important educational resources. But the staff are the most important resource for students.
From a research standpoint, how would you rate Veragua Rainforest for its investigations, biodiversity, quality of research scientists and field station facilities?
I am familiar with many research/educational field stations, some of them quite well-known. I would rate Veragua as among the best.
Veragua Rainforest has been conducting educational programs in tropical biology and environmental educational for 10 years. All educational packages are custom-designed for each group and range from three to seven days. Research is done on site and students have a completely hands-on experience contributing to actual ongoing scientific investigations at the Veragua field station.