Friday Jan 6, 2012

Collecting Stream Organisms

In the morning today we collected data for an ongoing stream monitoring project.  We collected little organisms from the stream and identified these organisms.  Most of these are insect larva that will become damselflies, mayflies, dragonflies.

That rock was heavy!

The presence or absence of certain organisms indicate pollution levels.  We also collected snails. We learned that snails can be “right-handed”or “left-handed”: their shells can curve to the right or left.  Right handed snails are less tolerant of pollution.  Good news! We did not find any left handed snails.

Collecting stream organisms

Identifying Stream Organisms Under the Microscope

Analyzing water samples















In the atfernoon today we visited the Cave Branch Orchid Rescue and learned about orchid conservation. The orchids there were beautiful. Afterwards we went to a citrus orchard and found wild orchids. We removed a few of the wild orchids growing there and transported them to a new, safer location within the Sleeping Giant Rain Forest Resort. All of the new rescued orchids were placed on one tree and will be marked with our names on them and the date they were rescued.

Ochids Collected for Rescue

After returning from the Orchid Rescue project, we had the privilege to complete our oral history interviews with Carlos our guide and Rose, our hostess. This was a great experience and we learned a lot about the Belizean customs and the history of these individuals. What a pleasure to exchange information about our different cultures. We are learning to appreciate each other’s unique qualities, which is so important in today’s society.

Katy with Master Gardener Chan

Peace and love to all of you, from Belize, Kimberly and Kara.

Kara's Orchid


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Thursday Jan 5, 2012

Our internet connection in not always working, so do not be concerned about us if we do not post promptly each evening.


Man, so what did we do today? I feel like it was something of some sort of importance. O yea, now I remember, we only ventured to the heart of Mayan civilization in Tikal, Guatemala, no big deal. There were dangers along the journey such as spider monkeys (I don’t know why they call them spider monkeys, I mean come on, they don’t even have eight legs), deadly tarantulas, about a mile long of leaf-cutting ants, all in their natural habitat, making an already promising journey even more thrilling. As we finally made it to the top of the four individual temples within the city, we received a small, yet riveting glimpse of what Mayan civilization looked like, a civilization that reaches back thousands of years. -Lance and Justin

View from Temple IV

Tikal was a breath taking experience to which pictures unfortunately do no justice to the actual experience. It was fun to see the leaf-cutter ants marching diligently along the trails and watching the howler monkeys interact with each other and seeing them respond to passersby. We saw a tarantula the size of an adult’s hand, which was scary enough to see and touch, let alone let crawl on your arm. The highest point of all was the challenge of walking up Temple 4. The rewarding view was looking over top of the trees and seeing the remaining temples within the forest. -Autumn & Monica

I can’t believe I did this! Usually a small spider less than a centimeter big is enough to scare me away but not this tarantula. With my classmates encouragement, I decided to hold it and allow it to climb up my arm. Frozen in disbelief, I did not move a muscle. This was quite an experience that I will never forget!- Misty

Concurring Fear of Spiders

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Wednesday Jan 4, 2012

Foot Print Cave

What a spectacular view on the way to Foot Print Cave!  The bus ride to our fantastic exploration to the ancient cave was awesome and thrilling. We went tubing down a river into the cave and saw artifacts left by the Mayans. –Kara & Kim

Medicinal Plant Trail

What a tasteful afternoon on the Medicinal Plant trail.  In addition to learning what plants are used to treat aliments from toothaches to high blood pressure, we had the opportunity to stimulate all of our taste buds with trying a variety of different species.  Extending from chewing on minty termites to a bitter tree stem, everything was new, exciting and interesting! We are looking forward to trying more new and outrageous native species.  –Alyssa, Katy, & Misty

Willy Wonka

 The Foot Print Cave in Belize was an amazing adventure: we tubed down a river to reach the cave, crawled around because the ceiling was low in places, saw fruit and insect bats hanging, and beautiful crystal covered walls. The stalactite formations drip down from the top. Other formations just flow. One particular formation (a stalagmite) was a caramel covered marshmallow wonder. It appears that Willy Wonka really does exist – and he lives in a cave in Belize!!  –  Autumn & Monica

Mayan Artifacts

In the Foot Print Cave after crawling over some very dangerous rock formations we stumbled upon a piece of history: the Mayan pottery shells which had been there so long they had started to become part of the cave. They had been used in ceremonies from hundreds of years ago, as the cave we were in represented the Mayan underworld. It’s about as close as you can get to the ancient Mayan practices in our time period. – Lance & Justin

Tube for river rafting

Cohune Nut

Tasting cohune nut

Cebia Tree

Mayan Artifacts

Tasting termites

The "marshmallow"

Mouth full of termites


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We have arrived safely.

We arrived safely in Belize and the field station. We enjoyed a wonderful Belizean dinner.

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One Day Until We Depart!

Our Home Away From Home

We are all starting to get very excited to go to Belize.  The snow finally started falling in Muskegon and we are going on to the warm rainforest! Follow are trip and see our exciting adventures. This photo shows the Sibun Education and Adventure Lodge where we will be studying.

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Gearing Up for Our Trip

Nine students and four faculty are preparing for a trip to Belize January 3rd through 8th, 2012.  Follow our trip here!

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