Senior, Environmental Science B.S.; San Diego, Calif.
This past summer, I had the privilege of joining several other students during my second and final term of summer research under the tutelage of Dr. Mike Mooring. Together, we hiked about 126 miles through a range of grueling terrain in the high elevation Costa Rican cloud forests, most notably the country’s highest peaks of Mount Chirripo and Kamuk, in order to learn more about the six species of felids native to the area. The days were long, the air was thin, and we were often soaked – but there was nowhere else that I would have rather been. I’ve always felt that time spent in nature can be meditative and healing, bringing one closer to the creator by spending time with the creation. Combining the opportunity for spiritual growth with the practical aspects of furthering conservation efforts for elusive big cats was a dream come true.
Combining the opportunity for spiritual growth with the practical aspects of furthering conservation efforts for elusive big cats was a dream come true.
As an environmental science student with an interest in conservation work, stepping foot into a real-life tropical rainforest was an unforgettable experience – and not just because my knees ached from all of the hiking for a week afterward! It’s hard to describe the sheer volume of stimuli that symphonize seamlessly into an impenetrable wall of verdant growth. Ferns of all shapes and sizes carpet the undulating, swamp-like earth, providing shade for the plethora of phosphorescent fungi that feast on detritus below. Up above, the branches of towering oaks intertwine themselves in the canopy as they sway rhythmically with the humid gusts. These ancient wooden sentinels host hundreds of colorful epiphytic bromeliads, and if you look closely enough, you just might see the long, flowing tail of a resplendent quetzal hanging down between the branches.
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