Six intrepid student explorers and two faculty members departed January 22nd for 10 days in Panama. The trip is a combination of scientific research, community outreach, and international exploration. Science Department Chair Laurie Doss has led the trip over 15 times to Panama and the Cocobolo Nature Reserve. Over the years, Marvelwood students have contributed to the discovery of 380 avian species at Cocobolo, making the Reserve the 14th rated hotspot out of 100 known hotspots for avian diversity in the country of Panama. This year, the group is bringing a hydrophone, on loan from Cornell University, which they're excited to use for underwater recordings of fish and amphibians. Students will be working with top researchers and experts in their fields including Abel Batista, who is one of the leading herpetologists in Panama and Central America. Follow their adventures here.
A highlight of the trip is always a day spent with children of the village of La Zahina, a half-day’s walk from Cocobolo. The village is home to about 30 families who live off the grid, with very little means to support themselves. Petra is the school’s long-time teacher who works hard to get what she can for her students through a complicated state-system. Over the years, Laurie Doss and Petra have worked together to create programs for their students to interact with each other during our visits. Some of the memorable activities have included tie-dying, bird identification, and puzzle competitions. Long-term programs have included CLICK (Communities Linking Internationally to Raise Conservation Awareness in Kids) in which cameras were given to the children of La Zahina, many of whom never venture into the nearby rainforest, and tasked with exploring their area and photo-documenting their discoveries. Four years later, the children are still using some of the cameras and eagerly show their work to Ms. Doss and the students who are equally excited to share their enthusiasm.
See photos from over 10 years of exploration in Panama on SmugMug
Follow their adventures here
Cocobolo: Hope for a Vanishing Species on YouTube