CAHS Faculty Leads Study Abroad Trip to Costa Rica

  • The group with their tour guide, Francisco Miranda.

A group of students enrolled in the Spring 2018 course AGEC 4233: Land Resource Economics traveled to Costa Rica during Spring Break.

“We had a total of ten students come along, nine seniors and one junior. Nine of them are Agriculture majors, and one student is a Health major,” said Dr. Noel M. Estwick, a research scientist and adjunct instructor at PVAMU.

Estwick and Dr. Kwaku Addo, associate director and department head in the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, led the trip March 11-17.

“The purpose of the visit was to help our students learn more about agribusiness in Costa Rica and apply the theories they are learning here at PVAMU in an international setting,” said Estwick.

The group began their excursion in Santa Clara. They had a chance to meet with professors from Escuela Técnica Agrícola e Industrial, or ETAI, and an official from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

“Anita Katial from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica hosted an informational session where she talked about agriculture in Costa Rica as well as the country’s relationship with the U.S,” said Addo.

Ing. Juan Carlos Corrales Arce, a technical coordinator at ETAI, conducted another lecture.

“Since 1998, I have never had the opportunity to meet such an incredible and analytical group of students. I hope, in the future, we have the opportunity to receive more students from PVAMU,” said Corrales.

On day four, the students traveled to La Fortuna where they explored the town’s waterfall, the Arenal Volcano, Hanging Bridges, and Baldi Hot Springs. From there, the group went to San Rafael de Naranjo where they toured Coffex Internacional Coffee Plantation.

“A fourth-generation family of coffee farmers own and operate Coffex Internacional, and they do business with Chick-fil-A and Starbucks,” said Addo. “The students learned everything from how coffee is planted and transplanted all the way to how it is processed and packaged.”

Estwick said, “The coffee plantation visit was a handson experience. The students collected soil samples, examined pH levels, and looked at the different types of crops grown at multiple elevation levels.”

The students spent two days at the plantation before traveling to Sarchi and San Jose to shop. They returned to Texas the following day.

“For all of our students, it was their first time visiting Costa Rica. Some of them told us afterward that they are considering pursuing graduate studies in Costa Rica,” said Estwick.

PVAMU Senior Dezarae Johnson wrote, “Going to Costa Rica was a humbling and eye-opening learning experience, one that I will never forget and will always take with me. The Study Abroad experience is definitely something I encourage all Prairie View students to take full advantage of.”

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-This story by Marchita Shilo originally appeared in Academic Insights.