May 31, 2022

Shawnee State University students enrolled in Dr. Sarah Ivers biology courses recently traveled to the Cano Palma Biological Station in Costa Rica to complete hands-on field research methods in a tropical forest. Junior Maria Arbogast was excited to participate in this experience in her education.

students pictured on beach

“Going on a trip like this was literally a dream of mine since I was a child,” she said. “Working with wildlife and conservation is my passion.”

Upon arriving in Costa Rica, students were each assigned different survey assignments to gather data. Arbogast was assigned surveys for caimans, otters, bats, snakes, turtles, macaws, and mammals.

“It taught us about what efforts need to be taken in order to help conserve and monitor the environment,” she said. “It was the perfect trip for an aspiring biologist or ecologist. Being around like-minded people who care about wildlife and that help maintain conservation efforts was inspiring and also one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.”

Arbogast was grateful for all of the hands-on experience this trip gave to her and her classmates. Outside of their data collection for surveys, being able to experience the animals in their natural habitat and experiencing the nature of Costa Rica were highlights for her.

“One of my highlights was getting to help two hatchling leatherback sea turtles make it to the ocean,” she said. “One had gotten flipped on its back and another had gotten stuck in seaweed. We got to clear the path and watch them until they made it to the ocean.”

Looking towards graduation in 2023, Arbogast is thankful for how this trip has prepared her for her future career and has aided her education moving forward.

“This trip gave me confirmation that I am exactly where I need to be and that I have selected the correct major for myself,” she said. “It helped me figure out what interests me the most. This trip was literally life changing for me, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity.”