I spent ten days at La Selva Biological Research Station in Heredia, Costa Rica. The first four days were spent acclimating ourselves to the area by hiking the rainforest trails, visiting local plantations, and getting to know the researchers we would be working with. The next four days were spent on individual research teams of five to six students per researcher. The project I worked on concerned hummingbird vocalizations. The last day was spent presenting our findings and enjoying the new friends we made!
This experience was important to me to see first-hand the efforts being made to preserve our planet. I admire the people who quietly and almost anonymously work to provide the information necessary to make sound decisions about how to effectively preserve the environment and affect government policies. Being able to help with the ongoing research at La Selva and bringing this knowledge home with me helps me to make a difference in my own area and university.
Actually experiencing the things we learned about in class was amazing. It is one thing to study about the importance of biodiversity, but to see the amazing abundance of so many different species in one place really cemented in my thinking that each and every species counts and is an integral part of its ecosystem. I also gained a better understanding of the true effects of preserving biodiversity and ecosystems on the local people and how it impacts their economy and their ability to make a living. It is a difficult balance.
From this experience, I have learned that fieldwork is definitely something that I am interested in pursuing as a career. I thoroughly enjoyed my time collecting data in the field and then going back into the lab and analyzing what we found. I plan to apply to graduate school and participate in some type of environmental research.