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Sea Turtle Research Field Course
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Sea Turtle Research Field Course

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The science exchange research at Campamento Tortuguero Mayto

I completed this program over 2 months during the summer of 2015. I was placed at a sea turtle conservation camp in Mayto, Jalisco, Mexico. I decided to apply for this program because I wanted some more research experience, which is exactly what I got (and so much more!). While I was in Mexico, my research partner and I were responsible for completing a research project that examined the topographical changes of the sea turtle nesting beach we were staying on. Prior to the actual trip we met with the program coordinator, Katherine, via skype to talk about the project itself and all of the logictics of the trip. Katherine was very helpful in making sure we had all of the supplies and information we needed prior to leaving, and then she met us in Mexico for a weekend of orientation. The research project taught me a lot about what goes in to creating a project and the process of writing a scientific paper about it. The paper that I wrote with the help of several wonderful colleagues is actually currently under review for publication. I would have never thought that I would be able to write and potentially publish a scientific paper at this point in my education if I had not done this program.

Aside from the research experience, I was amazed by the work that the sea turtle camp (Campamento Tortuguero Mayto) does and the culture that I was immersed in. While staying at the camp, my research partner, other volunteers from around Mexico, and I helped with monitoring nesting sea turtles at night, collecting their nests to protect them from poachers, and releasing the hatchlings to the sea (my favorite part!). During the day we also helped out with cooking and some general maintenance of the camp, but it wasn't all work, no play. We also had plenty of time to snorkel, hike, and visit some of the surrounding towns.

If I had the opportunity to go back in time and do this project again, I would be there in a heartbeat. I fell in love with the beach that I was staying on and I met so many wonderful people. I took a couple Spanish classes before this trip, but I learned far more in the two months that I spent on this trip than I did in a year of classes. If you haven't taken extensive Spanish classes, though, don't worry! Most of the people I met along the way spoke both English and Spanish (I was always so impressed) and they were so patient while I was learning.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not include some of the pictures I took on this trip. The scenery alone was enough to make me want to relive this experience again and again. I hope this review was helpful, and I truly mean it when I say that completing this program was one of the best decisions I've ever made.