Study Abroad in Costa Rica

An Exploration of Ecology and Conservation for High School Students

UVM, in partnership with International Studies Abroad, is excited to offer a unique international
environmental program that examines the intersection of culture and conservation by observing and
exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.

Students will experience the rich tropical “home” of the largest private reserve in Costa Rica, the
Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER). Using the CER as a teaching model, we will observe and study the diversity of species interactions found within the park with particular attention paid to the ecosystem services provided by the park all within the context of a 3 credit course.

Learning Outcomes:

Full program dates: July 9–Aug 5, 2016
July 9: Travel to Costa Rica
July 10–22: In country course work
July 23: Travel home
July 24–Aug 5: Post travel course work

Language of Instruction: English
Passport/Visa Requirement: A passport is required. US and EU citizens do not require a visa

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Who can Apply?


This program is for high school students who have completed 10th, 11th, or 12th grad and is made up of two weeks spent in Estacion Pocosol – Monteverde, Costa Rica, followed by 2 weeks of an online assignment. The experience will include field trips, interactive workshops as well as social activities.

Physical Requirements: Must be able to hike 1-3 miles per day in high humidity on medium to steep inclines.

Course Details

Community Development and Applied Economics 095: An Exploration of Ecology and Conservation in Costa Rica

Ecology is a scientific term derived from the Greek word for home, Oikos. For many, however, ecology is often considered the study of natural processes and interactions separate from the human “home”. This perceived separateness can lead to complacency and the short-sighted management of global natural resources and the degradation of life-sustaining ecosystems. By understanding and appreciating the interdependence of human culture (society) and ecological systems (ecology) a more sustainable way of life can be conceptualized.

Over the course of ten days, students in this course will have the opportunity to explore one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world, the Monteverde cloud forest of Costa Rica. During our stay at the Biological Research Station located at Estacion Pocosol, we will utilize the rich biodiversity of the largest private reserve in Costa Rica, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER) as a model for studying the interconnectedness of humans and nature.


Program Details

This field based course will be divided into two modules. The first module will explore important ecological concepts (e.g. biodiversity, community ecology, nutrient cycling, etc.) via experiential learning opportunities at Estacion Pocosol. From bugs to bats, we will use our five senses to observe, reflect and discuss the diverse array of interacting species throughout the cloud forest ecosystem. In partnership with a local Costa Rican ecologist, we will also learn about the current research being conducted within the CER and pitch in where necessary.

The second module of the course is the human ecology portion of the program. During this module students will examine the intersection of culture and conservation through participatory projects supporting the development and maintenance of the CER and Estacion Pocosol. Costa Rica boasts a rich history of conservation and eco-tourism. As part of this service learning module, students will reflect upon the economic and social impacts of conservation planning and eco-tourism on local communities.

Learning Outcomes

  • Observe and appreciate the diverse array of ecological interactions within the CER and the research projects being conducted at the reserve.
  • Develop a basic understanding of tropical ecology with a strong emphasis on biotic interactions.
  • Develop and/or refine our “cultural lenses” to provide a context for conservation decision making and human interactions.
  • Compare and contrast conservation policies between the USA and Costa Rica.
  • Critically examine the goals of Estacion Pocosol and impacts of conservation projects on local communities.

Your program fee includes:

  • Tuition, comprehensive fee, and program fee for the 3 credit course
  • All lodging while in Costa Rica
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while in Costa Rica
  • All transportation, field trips and site visits while in Costa Rica

Your program fee does not include:

  • Air travel to/from Costa Rica
  • Meals while in transit
  • Classroom materials (textbooks, notebooks, pens, etc…)
  • Cell phone incoming/outgoing calls
  • Items of a personal nature

Planning Your Trip

Terms and Conditions

We expect students to conduct themselves with a high standard of behavior while on the program. This is to ensure your safety and security. The rules and regulations are strictly enforced. Failure to abide by them will result in expulsion from the program at your own expense. Students expelled from the program will be withdrawn from the course. Students are expected to attend all class sessions, events and activities.

Important Considerations for Study Abroad Programs

In recognition of the importance of health and safety as they relate to off-campus programs, we expect students to be able to:

  • Walk or stay outdoors for up to 3 hours at a time with a few scheduled breaks
  • Tolerate variable weather conditions such as rain, humidity, wind, heat
  • Sleep in shared dorm-style accommodations with same-sex peers
  • Self-manage and administer prescription medications, if applicable
  • Be flexible with schedule changes due to weather or other factors
  • Spend extended periods of time away from cell phones
  • Communicate significant health, safety, and personal concerns to UVM staff

In order to facilitate a positive learning experience for each student and the community, we expect students to be able to:

  • Listen, absorb, and process information outside a classroom setting such as outdoors and cultural sites
  • Participate in an immersive, living-learning community with limited personal time
  • Respect and learn from other cultures, traditions, and perspectives

Please call or email us at or 802-656-2085 if any of these things are of concern or if you need reasonable accommodation so we can make sure you have enough information about the program.

Immigration Formalities

You should bring a copy of your acceptance letter to the Faculty Lead Costa Rica Summer High School Program in your hand luggage in case immigration officials request to see a copy.

Students under 18 travelling without a parent/guardian

If you are arriving in Costa Rica without your parent/guardian, you must have a letter from your parent authorizing you to participate in the program for immigration officials at the airport. We advise parents to use the following text:

To whom it may concern:
I authorize my son/daughter, _________________(name, passport number) to participate in the University of Vermont Faculty Lead Study Abroad Program in Costa Rica.


Parent Name