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28 students, 7 faculty members attend Winter Term course in Ecuador

For the 20th year, the WKU Department of Agriculture sponsored a short-term study abroad course to Ecuador.

Twenty-eight WKU students and seven faculty members participated in the Winter Term class to the Ecuadorian Amazon and Galapagos regions. Leaders were Dr. Kristie Guffey from the Glasgow campus and Dr. David Coffey from the Bowling Green campus. Other faculty members included: Dr. Martin Stone, Agriculture; Dr. Cecile Garmon, Educational Leadership; Dr. Melissa Stewart, Modern Languages; Dr. Ron Ramsing, Kinesiology and Recreation; and Prof. Hajara Mahmoud, Biology at Glasgow campus.

While the major emphasis of the course was on sustainability issues, historical and cultural sites, including the gold-leafed sanctuaries inside the churches of Old Quito, the group also experienced tubing down the Rio Malo near Chaco in the rainforest and scientific experiments at the Middle of the World.

Food and development issues in the Highland Rainforest and Amazon areas included exploration of a small self-sustaining dairy farm near Chaco, investigation to wildlife habitat in Tena and meetings with local leaders. Experiencing first hand the wonders of Isabela Island in the Galapagos archipelago was a highlight of the class.

An important part of the experience was the examination of the fragile environment and efforts to make tourism and native species coexist in a sustainable manner.  Class members toured a turtle sanctuary and Iguana Island and experienced “up close and personal” the unique aquatic and wildlife species. Participants were challenged on their roles and responsibilities in sustainability.

The service learning activity was a dental varnish project in elementary schools in Tena and Chaco. Under the direction of Dr. Rankin Skinner representing Kentucky-Ecuador Partners of the Americas, WKU students and faculty members applied free dental varnish to the teeth of about 2,000 children and provided each child with a toothbrush.

The 2014 Winter Term experience will focus on issues related to food production and sustainability in the Lowlands and Coastal Areas of Ecuador.

Student participants were: Erik Brown, Glasgow; Caroline Carter, Nashville; Travis Combs, Elkton; Devin Cornwell, Scottsville; Cory Dodds, Smithland; Brooke Durham, Stanford; Jacob Floyd, Corbin; Jamie Guffey, Hardinsburg; Lauren Harris, Elizabethtown; Megan Hesson, Hopkinsville; Abby Jones, Smiths Grove; Kelsey Kaetzel, Santa Claus, Ind.; Elizabeth Maestle, Munfordville; Kaitlin Masterson, Elizabethtown; Morgan Murrell, Glasgow; Lydia Richardson, Brandenburg; Norma Richardson, Brandenburg; Benjamin Ryan, Elizabethtown; Taylor Schultz, Springfield, Tenn.; Hanna Simmons, Glasgow; Suzanne Scott, Henderson; Eric Sexton, Edmonton; Kayla Steber, Danville; Taryn Thompson, Owensboro; Heins Valastequi, Bowling Green; Cory Wallace, Hopkinsville; Reagan Wempe, Morganfield; and Spencer Wright, Liberty.

Contact: David Coffey, (270) 745-3151.

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