TNCC Students to Spend Spring Break Doing Biological Research in Nicaragua

Published: February 26, 2008

A trip to Nicaragua this spring will give nine Thomas Nelson Community College students enrolled in Bio 295: Tropical Ecology and Conservation in Nicaragua the opportunity to get their feet wet via hands-on biological research on the organisms, habitats and conservation of this country’s tropical ecosystems.

During the 10-day research trip scheduled during the College’s Spring Break, Feb. 28 – March 10, students will be conducting research projects at Ometepe Biological Teaching Station, which lies in Lake Nicaragua on Ometepe Island, the largest fresh water volcanic island in the world. While at Ometepe, the students will ascend the Maderas Volcano to observe biodiversity changes along an altitudinal gradient (dry forest, wet cloud forest, and elfin forest) and later descend into the crater lake.

Students will also experience freshwater ecology and conservation, visit coffee and banana plantations, and study new world monkey behavior and participate in volunteer work which includes teaching English to school children at Merida School and distributing supplies to Ometepe Island medical clinics. The donated medical supplies are courtesy of Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue. A student taking the class this semester is an Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue employee who coordinated the effort.

TNCC students will also be visiting other culturally, historically and ecologically important sites and museums in Leon, Masaya, Managua and Granada where they will visit cathedrals, the Ruben Dario Museum, explore Masaya Volcano and snorkel Apoyo Volcanic Crater Lake.

A visit planned to to Juan Venado Nature Reserve on the Pacific Coast will give students the opportunity to kayak and explore mangrove regions of a pacific coast barrier island and estuary, observe coastal birds, crocodiles and other wildlife, and witness leatherback sea turtle nesting and hatchings.

This is the second study abroad trip planned to expose TNCC students to Central American ecosystems. Last year, Biology faculty Jennifer Martin, along with three additional TNCC faculty members planned the first study abroad course which took a group of 23 TNCC students to explore the ecosystems, language and culture of Costa Rica.

Martin has been a faculty member at TNCC since 2005 teaching biology courses such as Introductory Biology I and II, Honors Introductory Biology II, Marine Biology and Tropical Ecology. She has also been conducting research in biological stations throughout Central America for the last ten years. The group of students will also be accompanied by Dr. Donald Bartholomay, Dean of Science and Allied Health.

For information, please contact the TNCC Office of Public Relations Office at 825-3811.

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