By: Stephanie Sidoti
I am excited to be traveling to Costa Rica to start 2014 exploring the country and it’s natural beauty. I have studied abroad a few times before and loved both experiences immensely, and I know that this experience will be just as fantastic!
I am looking forward to traveling to a new country and having the opportunity to practice my Spanish skills while learning new skill in international reporting. I am also looking forward to spending so much time in the Costa Rican nature and exploring the local plant, animal, and insect life (yes even the bugs).
As a photographer I am also super excited to have the opportunity to travel abroad and photograph a new and exciting location. I hope that my photographs will do Costa Rica justice!
But for now, I need to start writing up a packing list and putting things aside to make sure I don’t forget any necessary things, like my camera!
I’ve been doing serious journalism for only about than three years now, but it’s safe to say I’ve figured out a few of my tendencies. There are two main ones. First: when there’s something I’m really, truly interested in, I surround myself in the issue. I can’t think about anything else, willingly. Second: If the story is far away, I’ve never been afraid to hop in my car and drive for hours to cover it.
But, again, I’ve only been doing this for a few years, so I’ve only actually done the second tendency twice. This January, that number will be bumped up to three (minus hopping in my car). Thinking about this trip has taken up a lot of my free time and not just because of the sunshine and greenery. I’m excited to practice reporting, especially in an unfamiliar place.
Learning about the ecological implications of practices in Costa Rica, and how they relate to things closer to home has been great to learn about so far. Practicing Spanish and learning more about this unique place are also some things I’m looking forward to.
I’d like to expand on what my goals are for this Costa Rica trip, but the finer points will be hammered out as the trip goes along. I’ll be on the journey, and hopefully you can track it right here on this blog.
I never thought I’d be studying abroad my freshmen year, but when opportunities present themselves, it’s best to grab the bull by the horns. In this first semester of college, I’ve really come to appreciate that you can’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what you might learn in the process.
That’s the mindset I need to navigate through this two week adventure.
I know my journalistic abilities will be tested in Costa Rica. I hope that through those challenges, my mind will be pried open to the difficulties, issues, beauty, culture and knowledge that thrives in Costa Rica. My reporting will be better if I am fully immersed in the moment.
That immersion involves appreciation for critters for which I don’t have much affection: insects, spiders, snakes. The first step to appreciation is understanding the purpose each thing, in this case, creature, has and its place in the big picture.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m just an inexperienced 18 year old. I’ll learn though, that I too, have a role to play in the thriving ecology and country of Costa Rica.
- Daniela Vidal
It still has not sunk in that I will be going to Costa Rica over break. It is really not that far from now that I will be going. I never really thought I would have time to study abroad in college. So I’m glad I have found this opportunity to go to Costa Rica.
As far as my expectations go, I have heard a lot of glowing reviews. My friends tell me it was a really fun time, and also a lot of work. Though, I look forward to this challenge. This will help me find what area I want to focus on in journalism. I plan on taking a great number of pictures. This should help me learn and prepare for a photojournalism class I have next semester.
The biggest part of the trip I look forward to is learning more about the Costa Rican culture and their passion for preserving nature. Then, I want to avoid any snake if at all possible. I hope I can learn a lot from this opportunity that doesn’t come around too often. It will be something I can use to help me in the future, and get a better perspective of cultures around the world.
- Josh Booth
The first day of the FRI has been overwhelming and completely awesome. I have already started a running list of story ideas to pursue in the future.
One of the biggest surprises for me is the openness of the traveling faculty. I’ve been able to sit next the most of them on the bus today, and have had some great conversations with them all.
One conversation that really sticks in my mind is my chat with Greg Laslo on our way from Peck Ranch to the restaurant. We talked about the possibility of writing news stories in more experimental forms. It really made me think about how we, as journalists, shouldn’t be afraid to break away from the way we learn to write in school. Maybe being a little creative will make our work more appealing to a wide audience.
And, I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures! But first, some sleep.
The Jack’s Fork River meanders slowly through a landscape of rolling Ozark Mountains — weathered to their core by hundreds of thousands of years of natural elements. Tall limestone bluffs, stained with dark lichens, tower over the river like the granite pillars of a national monument.
Narrow short-leaf pines and thick, sturdy oaks stand tall in thin soil and a rocky foundation. On the riverbanks, dull bushy sycamores envelope green willows, and a Small Copper butterfly’s orange wings shimmer in the midday sun as it flutters across the river, hunting for insects and mates.
Large schools of minnows gather around large, mossy rocks in the clear water while large trout circle like sharks.
King Fishers, swallows and a Green Heron beat their wings as they glide gracefully and methodically up and down the river corridor, inches above the slow moving current. Two or three Turkey Vultures dry their wide wings in a tall, dead tree, while another group picks at a carcass on the gravel bank below.
Water strider bugs hover over the water as swarms of mayflies celebrate their brief orgies in the great evolutionary struggle.
“These bugs are very happy today. It’s their one day when they can fly around and have sex,” said retired entomologist Dennis Kopp as he pointed to a swarm of mayflies, which hatch from their larval stages and breed for about 24 hours.
“It’s a sign of river health; it’s a sign of minimal river disturbance,” he said.
By Annette Jenkins
Imagine floating down Jack’s Fork River. The cool water laps at your feet as you hang them out of your canoe, the warm sun overhead. Your cooler overflows with ice and cans of cold Mountain Dew. As you dig through the empty cans to find a full one, the breeze catches one and it’s tossed into the river, quickly filling with water and sinking. You can’t retrieve it. “It’s just one pop can.” But it can do more damage than you think.
Rebecca Landewe of The Nature Conservancy describes links between small things we don’t realize actually have a huge impact on the integrity and health of this river. Human litter and waste create bigger problems down the line than we can imagine.
More than one million visitors come to Jack’s Fork to float every summer. If one can is dropped for every five people, imagine the amount of trash swallowed-but not digested-by this pristine area.
Even something as small as using the woods as an outhouse during a long float trip can affect the health of the river, Landawe said. She described how human defecation adds nutrients to the water. “Algae feed on those nutrients, then suck oxygen out of the water. Other fish and wildlife need that oxygen,” Landawe said.
Landewe is working with the Department of Parks and Recreation to help educate the public on the treatment of the water in the popular floating season. She wishes people were more responsible when it came to keeping it a place everyone will want to visit, Landawe said.