The student news site of Seward County Community College

Costa Rica provides vacation, learning experience

August 13, 2016

La Fortuna Waterfall from the top.
Brynn Grieshaber
La Fortuna Waterfall from the top.

When a school offers a trip for any kind of educational purpose, the first thing that comes to a student’s mind is “vacation time.” For some students at Seward County Community College, this was their initial thought for participating in the field biology trip to Costa Rica. However, the purpose of the trip was for this foreign country to serve as a classroom for students.

Costa Rica has a diverse environment and a rich culture. For those unfamiliar with the country, it’s best known for its beaches, volcanoes and its biodiversity. They are also praised for their rich coffee beans.

“It was my first time out of the country. I didn’t know what to expect, with it being a Third World country” said sophomore Brynn Grieshaber.

Crocodile River was beautiful! This is the Tarcoles River, filled with hundreds of crocs
Brynn Grieshaber
Crocodile River was beautiful! This is the Tarcoles River, filled with hundreds of crocs

It was an eye-opening sight to see for students since it is still a developing country.

“Going to Costa Rica helped me realize how good we have we have it in the United States. There was hardly any air conditioning there, the buildings were hot, the plumbing sucked, and they just don’t have all the luxuries we get to have here,” said Grieshaber, who is from Elkhart.

Other than serving as a quick vacation as the students got away from Kansas, they took home several valuable lessons, information, and memories.

The trip consisted of nine organized days.

  1. Arrival to San Jose.
  2. Environmental learning with ecosystem exhibits and trails.
  3. Travel to Los Chiles and Arenal. That day the students enjoyed a boat tour of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.
  4. Exploring the Arenal region and traveling to Monteverde.
  5. Experiential learning, lecture and a canopy adventure.
  6. Travel to Central Pacific Coast. Students visited the rainforest adventure park.
  7. Students visited Manuel Antonio National Park and took a tour of Crocodile River.
  8. Travel to Sarchi and San Jose. Students visited a coffee plantation here.
  9. Departure for home.

One of the most popular days was visiting La Fortuna Waterfall. The  waterfall is located at the base of the dormant Arenal volcano. The water that flows down the waterfall is that of the Arenal river.

“I’ve never seen a waterfall up close – to be able to swim in it was truly a bucket list check-off come true,” said Hope Miller, freshman from Liberal.

“It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. You walk down 500 steps to get to the bottom of it, and then you could swim in the water and hike around the base of it,” said Katie Keaton, SCCC alumnus. “The only bad part is having to climb the 500 steps back. Ouch!”

costa rica grid 2
Faith, Itzel, Kaylee, Don, Katie, and Brynn stopping for a photo with the ginormous tree they passed. Then the students hiked past beautiful scenery and trees in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest.

Students continued seeing a different perspective on life when meeting the kids from the local school. They handed out school supplies to all seven of the students. They got the opportunity to dance with them and even played a game of soccer.

“It was so inspiring to meet kids that grew up with almost nothing and to have the ability to donate to them and give them supplies to grow their one classroom. We played with them and just watched the children run around being happier than ever,” Miller said. 

If it’s one thing all students agreed with it’s that this experience made everyone of them grow and change in different ways.

“The experience helped me grow as a person because it made me realize how good we have it here in the United States. You always see the pictures or hear people talk about third world countries, but until you actually go there and experience it for yourself I don’t think you can truly understand it,” Keegan said.

Field Biology classes plan to have many new learning experiences for students to visit around the world in the future. For information on upcoming trips, please contact Don Hayes at [email protected]


The view from the top of a crater in Costa Rica. SCCC's Field Biology class took a trip as part of their studies over the summer.
Brynn Grieshaber
(Top) Itzel Pinon modeling off her blue butterfly. A tree frog sings in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Don Hayes, Biology Instructor, displays his adventurous side and Itzel Pinon modeling off her blue butterfly. (Bottom) A panoramic view of Costa Rica shows it diverse beauty.


About the Contributors
Photo of Kathleen Alonso
Kathleen Alonso, News Editor (fall)

Kathleen Alonso is the current news editor of the Crusader. She is a mother, student, worker and a lifelong learner. Her...

Photo of Brynn Grieshaber
Brynn Grieshaber, Co-Editor

Brynn Grieshaber, co-editor of the SCCC Crusader, is just a hardworking, 20-year-old kid, who spends her days waitressing...

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