AWOL: Environmental and Animal Rescue

AWOL: Environmental and Animal Rescue

AWOL: Environmental and Animal Rescue
Front: Bonnie Keller, Ellen Schiltz, Logan Bardwell. Back: Ariana Rodriguez, Natalie Bellairs, Justin Fejar, Ashley Rogers, Michael Boyle, Charlotte Strope, Dale Scully, Tabitha Ubben, and Claire Boston.

Students concerned with environmental issues and conservation traveled to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula to volunteer at the Widecast Sea Turtle Station, where they netted, weighed and tagged turtles, and collected tissue samples to check the endangered sea turtles for parasites before releasing them back to the ocean. They then went to a local elementary school in Matapalo, Costa Rica, where some students helped teach English and others worked to improve the playground by fixing signs, planting a garden so they can use the produce in their cafeteria, cleaning and picking up litter around the school grounds.

Advisors for the experience were Ellen Schiltz, director of recreation services and Dale Scully, associate dean of students at BVU.

“After the students helped the Widecast researchers collect data, it was incredible watching the entire team cheer the turtles on as they made their way back to sea,” said Schiltz. “Not only do AWOL experiences give our students a global perspective, but it shows them how they can work as a team, and how their efforts, no matter where they are, have an impact.”

“It was the first sea turtle I had ever seen, let alone touched,’ said Bonnie Keller, a junior biology and psychology major from Sioux City. “Now, I’m working with individuals committed to saving them. On our last day, one of the researchers gave a presentation using real-time data that we collected. It was incredible to see how the information we gathered would be used, and how it would help protect this endangered animal.”

Michael Boyle, a senior marketing and corporate math major from Perry, was also a student site leader for the trip. Other students who participated in the Environmental and Animal Rescue AWOL experience were Ariana Rodriguez, a senior graphic design and visual communication major from Storm Lake; Ashley Rogers, a senior biochemistry major from Denison; Charlotte Strope, a freshman business with concentration in marketing major from Longmont, Colo.; Claire Boston, a sophomore theatre and digital media major from Cedar Rapids; Justin Fejfar, a senior exercise science major from Remsen; Logan Bardwell, a freshman business major from Van Meter; Tabitha Ubben, a junior biology major from Bristow; and Natalie Bellairs, a senior biology major from Osage.