Thursday, July 6, 2017

Trinidad & Tobago Adventure Trip Report June 2017


The Trinidad & Tobago adventure is designed to get students immersed in the real Caribbean through exciting adventures and amazing animal encounters. Even though we (Green Edventures and our local partners) create a program that is guaranteed to wow students, the students have an equal part is making their experience extraordinary. As explorers, students are are asking questions, telling their story, and actively engaged in the site and the learning process. I will always remember Tessa exclaiming, “I like all of this interactive learning.”

No one group or trip is just like the last. For example, this group got to experience Tropical Storm Bret. The variety also comes in the group dynamic. Everyone was supportive, went with the flow, had no complaints, and had a genuine ability to be flexible.

The effort that the individuals and teams put forth to complete journals, species updates, and daily trip reports are what determines the quality of the final report and the narrative of their experience. Sometimes there were late nights, weak wifi, and tired minds, but such is the life of science and exploration.

This document is an a compilation of Facebook updates and concludes with their personal reflections about what they learned during the trip. It serves for me as a lens from the students’ perspective, and I hope that it will be a keepsake for the participants to look back on years from now.

Special thanks to their group leader Dan Hoffman for providing this opportunity to his students and for bringing a great group of young women on this trip to Trinidad & Tobago. Thank you to the parents who invest in experiential learning and travel for their teens. Also, thank you parents for raising amazing young women! This group was definitely in the top 5% of best groups ever.

Thank you to my dear students of whom were top notch and a genuine joy to travel with. I won’t forget you and I hope that you remember, always, your adventure in Trinidad & Tobago.  Also, remember the impact/power you can have on your local and global ecosystems. Every time you are given a choice between taking single a use plastic straw or refusing it, think of the hatchling your named and released and those mother turtles. You are part of their story and that comes with responsibilities. In the words of the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better, it’s not.”

Yours in adventure travel and conservation,
Green Edventures

Personal Reflections


By Tessa
Lesson: Every action counts.  Even though it may not seem like it at times, everything that we do everyday affects the rest of the world.  Our action may be on a miniscule scale but if we take the same action at the same time it will create one big action which will foster a change (most likely) **Tara's straw example
Action: Many actions can be taken not only to help Trinidad and Tobago but also our midwest area.  There is plenty of trash that can be cleaned up along the Kinni River therefore helping restore some of our natural ecosystems.  We can eliminate invasive species such as Buckthorn and participate in prairie burns.  On a more global scale, saying no to excessive packaging and encouraging recycling is a very easy way to help.  I also learned about voluntourism which sounds like an exciting way to positively impact the earth and meet new people along the way
Connection: One remarkable connection that I made was on our last full day.  I was talking with Courtney about the turtle eggs and their predators.  We were talking about how frustrating the birds are and how they eat the live hatchlings.  But Courtney mentioned that if it weren't for the birds whom were eating all of the dead eggs (mainly dead eggs) then the beach would be gross, moldy and smell horrid.  This connection stuck with me because even though the vultures are "annoying" they are vital to the all around health of the various ecosystems of the beach.  


By Olivia
Trinidad and Tobago had a way of making you take a moment and truly take in and appreciate our amazing world. In that moment you don't think about money, other people or troubles you are having, you are thinking about how small you are and how powerful mother nature is. Also in this moment you realize how connected almost every aspect of earth is. Some animals help others out and make it possible for them to thrive. Animals and plants have a way of creating things the other needs to survive and looking at the whole process gives you an idea of how well community can work when they are connected.
By watching this connectedness between all other living things I learned that we need each other in order to thrive also. We are animals, we belong in this circle of connectedness too, and sometimes we need to rethink our priorities. Humans have a major impact of this world, both good and bad. I learned if we can simply take baby steps and get back our sense of community like the plants and the animals, a natural balance can happen in our lives.
After leaving Trinidad and Tobago I have a whole new level of respect for nature and the people who work hard to conserve it. Small everyday decisions to help our planet made by each person every day can make a massive difference. It may make your life "less convenient" but it makes other lives possible. STOP using plastic straws, STOP using plastic bags, START making more educated decisions with what you eat and where it came from. ASK questions, DO your research, and MAKE your mark a good one!

By Elsa
As I look back at the experiences and memories I have created coming to Trinidad and Tobago, I realize just how much it has taught me about the world. I am so thankful that we emphasized the idea of recycling and being aware of our trash and where it ends up. I personally saw the effects that trash has on the leatherback turtles because as we watched the mama turtles lay their eggs we could see each mark caused by them getting caught in nets or garbage. This made me realize that each piece of trash I throw away could determine the life or death of a turtle. This connection is something that I would have never thought about if I had not seen the turtles and their struggles. I saw some with flaws on their shells, skin, and even one with a missing back flipper. In the future I will try to be more aware of what I throw away and try to teach others to do the same. The lesson this has taught me was that each and every person has a great effect on the wildlife on this planet and even though it may not seem like we make a difference, we definitely do. I will try to educate my family and friends on the things they can do to help out our animal friends-things such as not using straws, buying things with as little plastic as possible, and not being excessive when using packaging materials. I am so happy that this trip has opened my eyes to some of the problems about the world so i can continue to try to fix them. Thank you so much for guiding us and teaching us about the culture and wildlife, I greatly appreciate it and hope you continue to give others the experience that I have gotten. You helped me create many lifelong memories and stories to tell. Thank you!


By Calla
The trip to Trinidad and Tobago was an amazing experience I will never forget. The connection between the height of the tide and mangroves is eye opening. The lower the tide the more the mangroves will smell and grow. If the tide is too high the mangroves will drown. You can tell if the tide is too tall because then you can't smell the distinct smell of the mangroves. When the tide is low the smell of the mangroves pierces your nose with its intense smell.
A lesson I learned throughout the duration of the trip is that I need to be careful what I leave behind. The tiniest things such as using straws or kicking up sand in the ocean can destroy a habitat or an animal life. Straws can litter the beaches or oceans and destroy a turtle's habitat.  Plastic bags can get wrapped around an animal's neck and strangle them. The sand kicked up in the ocean can destroy the beauty of the coral reef and it's inhabitants. Overall, the lesson learned is to think before you act. Make sure you know where your trash is going and how you can prevent excess trash.
I encourage everyone to go snorkeling. Going snorkeling gives everyone a view of the coral reef that may not be given to them before. They can see the fish that thrive in the coral and how peaceful the habitat is. The trash we produce destroys these amazing homes in the ocean. If we all just took a moment to look at the reefs our world we be smarter and more prepared for the future.

By Abby
My experience in Trinidad & Tobago was nothing like I expected. By being a part of the culture for a week, I learned that it is possible for a country with varying backgrounds to function with very few problems. I saw people from all walks of life happily interacting with one another at the places we visited. Through this lesson I have decided that as I grow older I will not be afraid to travel all over the world and experience the different cultures. As the trip progressed I realized that the rainforest and the coral reefs are not all that different. Each ecosystem is full of life and has plants and animals that are dependent on each other. In the reefs, coral provide habitats and food for other organisms while the fish help keep the coral clean. In the rainforest, the plants provide protection for animals and the animals help pollinate the plants. The big thing I can take away from my experience in TnT is that travel is an amazing thing and I should take every opportunity I can to do it.

By Sara
Throughout this trip I learned the appreciation of diversity. I had never heard about Trinidad and Tobago until earlier this year when the trip was set up. Immediately after I learned the location I researched the two islands and was intrigued. From Chinese to locals the towns are bustling. Even cities were diverse. One minute we are in Port of Spain or Trincity mall and the next we are at the Avocat waterfall 2,000 miles above sea level. It's amazing to explore and experience the diversity in people and places.

My call to action...
Ever since I was little I have always loved sea creatures. From dolphins and sharks to starfish and fish, they have been my favorite animals. When learning about the harm the garbage has on these animals I realized the more I wanted to help protect them. One of the things I will try and do is use less straws and plastic bags. Turtles often mistake bags for jellyfish and harm themselves. Reusing plastic and spreading that around my community will make a difference. At schools in biology club I will try and spread more awareness for these creatures affected by garbage and do more trash clean-ups. Seeing these Leatherback turtles allowed me to connect with these animals and understand the importance of keeping them happy and healthy.

My Connection...
The plants and animals have an important connection to one another. When learning about how all the different parts of the rainforest are significant the animals that live in each section become as to why they do so. Birds live in the higher canopies of the forest so they are able to watch for predators and prey. Insects live in the moist and dark forest layer, well some of them like worms and slugs and the plants provide shade for them. The tall trees and sturdy branches provide support for snakes to hang out on, and sloths and monkeys to climb. The importance in structure connects to helping the animals to thrive and stay healthy in the forest, connecting the two.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Manatees & Springs Adventure Rings in the New Year!

Green Edventures rang in the New Year with 13 students and 2 adults from a Clintonville High, School from Wisconsin over the winter break December 28-January 1. They were the first of 3 groups planned for 2016-2017 at our new and exciting domestic destination set on King’s Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River Florida!

Kayaking the Chass, Florida's Amazon.

Using fun outdoor adventures like sea kayaking, hiking, an airboat ride, pontoon rides and of course snorkeling with the West Indian Manatee, combined with a student-centered environmental education program, the students learned about how springs are important to not just the wildlife that live in this bio diverse place, but the people too.

Each day the students shared the responsibilities in collecting species lists, and a summary of the day’s activities which they presented each night and wrote the narrative in the trip report. You can view the full report written by our students by clicking on This Link to Trip Report
Trip Report Cover

Additionally, everyone was required to write down a question each day and were required to find the answer by the following night. It was so great to see the questions evolve from broad topics like what are springs to why can commercial entities use the springs unregulated?  Some students were interested in wildlife and others were interested in conservation. That is the fun part about leading a student-centered inquiry-based trip. We set the stage for them to be wowed by a place, and the questions come naturally.

Evening class & discussions

Most definitely, the highlight of the trip was snorkeling with manatees. There were so many manatees. When the temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico drop below 38 degrees F, the manatees come into the spring for warmth in the constant 72 degree water. Our students are led by a local, licensed, and permitted guide for an encounter they will never forget.  Our approach is passive. We have to stay on the surface and passively observe the manatees. These are endangered animals and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There are big fines for breaking the rules in the refuge. The good news is that the students were awesome and respectful. Some even had a manatee come right up to them. The link to the video is provided. It is important to know that the group was under the supervision of the guide at all times and this manatee approached them for interaction. It even came back for another visit. So special!! Watch the video of Green Edventures students with manatees.

Snorkeling with Manatee. Photo Credit Smejkal.

In just a few weeks Green Edventures will be leading another group (this time a middle school group from Bennett, CO) and then a teacher’s professional development trip in June. These trips are upgraded to Expedition Team. Here, participants use 21st century technology to supplement their field research to collect digital archives of their adventure.

If you are interested in taking your students on this trip, you should check out the tour information here:

Group size is 10 students plus 1 teacher/chaperone. A second teacher or spouse can come for a discounted rate. Let us know your spring break, winter break, or early summer dates and we can pencil you in our schedule for 2018 trips.
Tara Short for more information or call 715-252-1238

Monday, November 12, 2012

BFF's in Baja!

By Lizzy S. (Racine, WI)
Do you ever wonder what it would be like going on a dream vacation with your best friend? Le me tell you from experience, it is amazing! When I first planned on coming to Baja with my school, I was ecstatic. A trip centered around marine biology and preserving the oceans was right up my alley. I knew I would have the time of my life! However, when I found out my best friend Mary, who is like a sister to me, was going, I was speechless. The list of things I knew we were going to experience together was endless and I knew that the amount of fun we were going to have would be incomprehensible. I was definitely right! Going into the trip I had never snorkeled, swam with sea lions, or even been in the ocean! Being able to experience these new wonders with someone as great as Mary was outstanding! We had so many laughs together. Whether it be the amount of times we accidentally breathed water into our snorkeles or us both falling down on the side of a mountain, laughs and smiles were always shared. This trip was amazing. Not only did I get to experience and learn new things that I am extremely interested in, but I also got to spend it with someone who is basically my twin and someone I could never live without, my best friend.

See photos of Lizzy and Mary's Trip here:!/media/set/?set=a.10150232999704360.334117.71847569359&type=3

Learn more about Baja Mexico Sea Quest:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being open minded in Mexico

Before I left for the trip, I was concerned about almost every thing from the flying, food, my ears, hiking, and snorkeling. I knew once I put these fears a side I would have fun and enjoy the trip. The night my group left I was busy all day so I could not just sit around and worry about the up coming flights. Once we reached the airport my fears really set in. I didn’t really want to get into the plane and fly. I was trying to keep in open mind and tell my self that It was going to be alright and just think about the end destination, a beach in Mexico.

Once we landed in Mexico, we had to go trough customs. Another fear of mine. I’m always afraid that I would be the one person who will be pulled aside and have my bags searched, I never have anything illegal, I got through that fine with out any problems. I kept an open mind and everything went fine. We got through customs with out any problems.

Then we met Tara, from then on I knew I was going to be fine. I had an open mind I had no fears, for the current time. Tara then took us to meet the group, who was going home. They were really nice and gave us some advice like watch were you step on the hikes. Than we were on our way to Cabo Pumo and they were on their way back home.

I was told by many friends not to eat anything fresh because of bacteria, So there I was worrying about is our food going to be fresh or is it going to be fried. I was trying to keep an open mind but I knew It could be a long week if I don’t like the food. Our first meal there was AMAZING, it was beef and some vegetables fried together and we put them on a tortilla shells. From then on I had an open mind and I knew the food was not going to be a problem. I don’t eat fish, but I kept my open mind and tried the fish there and I liked it. It did not smell like fish so I think that helped me be able to eat it and like it.
Abby during snorkeling checkout.

The next day we went to Fox canyon for a hike and to swim. I have weak ankles so I was concerned about falling and doing something to my ankles. This hike was fun, we got to see different types of Cati and plants. We also got to swim in two different fresh water ponds. It was so refreshing to get into the water, to cool off.
Snorkeling Checkout.

Group in Fox Canyon
After that we went to do the snorkel check out. I was looking forward to it. It was going well until my teacher got stung my a jelly fish, than I started to freak out. About the same time we started to working on diving down. I have never been a fan of diving because my ears are sensitive I can never get them equalized, (it took about 1 and ½ hours for them to equalize after we landed in Mexico). At this point I was certain I was just going to be floating on the surface looking at things from there. I was working on my somersaults and I got a cramp in my calf. The way Tara told me to stretch my calf out, I get cramps in my hip flexor. My closed mind was just farther proven right, I was not going to be diving and I will just float the whole time.

When snorkeling after that first day I got more comfortable in the water and soon was diving down to about 10 feet. As I would go farther down, I would become more open minded and wanted to explore more and dive more.
On our last night one of our dive leader Chabelo took us on a sunset hike. I wasn’t real up for hiking and did not really want to go, but I did. It was another time where I was closed minded about something. At first you have to step over a small stream of the Sea of Cortez, than climb the rocks. I hate rock climbing, so that was another reason I was closed minded about it and than we reach the first flat section of the hike, I did not realize we were already that far from our camp. The camp looked small but the people looked smaller. We took a bunch of pictures and than continued onwards. We reached the top and the view was SPECTACULAR! We could see for miles. We took for pictures and watched the sun set from there. On the way back down we went trough a little cave like thing. It was so cool! By this point I was so open to the hike. It was so much fun! I’m so glad that I went on the hike!
Sunset Hike

I’m so glad that I was able to go on this trip! I will remember it for the rest of my life, and I hope to one day return to the island and have more Green EDventures!
Abby taking a leap!

Abby D., IA

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baja Mexico Sea Quest: A Teacher's Perspective by Kyla Burns

It’s not the place you travel, but the people you travel with that make the difference. I had the great opportunity to go on a grand adventure to Baja, Mexico. Along the way I saw roaming cattle, was introduced to bizarre cacti, hiked through dry deserts and photographed lush palms. I lived a life at sea, boating with my fellow travelers to our next adventure.

One of Kyla's students bonding with a wild sea lion at Los Islotes in Baja California, Mexico.
We saw whales, made waves for dolphins, identified native birds, and spent an intimate hour bonding with a young sea lion in the waters of the beautiful Los Islotes sea lion colony. Evenings were spent learning fish names and days were spent with exhilarating snorkel trips in search of the Coronet Fish, the Fanged Blenny and the Mexican Goatfish. And when the sun set, we feasted on a chefs feast on our private beach and settled into our tents to the sound of crashing waves.
Kyla and students making waves with dolphins!
As glorious as these experiences may sound, they are made special due to the company we shared. Tara is like a long lost old friend. So easy to talk to with humor that keeps us laughing. She assumes the position of instructor to the students, but is more like a friend sharing her passion for the ocean, for Mexico, and for conservation. She is the driving force behind Green Edventures and her passion is contagious.

Tara Short (Green Edventures) and Chabelo Castillo (Fun Baja)
By her side is Chabelo, dive leader for Fun Baja and instant friend to the participants. Chabelo leads snorkels into a world he is very familiar with. He guides hikes into places he has countless stories for. With the students, he plays volleyball, gives Spanish lessons, pilots their kayaks and by the end of the week, forms a bond with each one of them as they promise to keep in touch.
School of Mexican Goatfish.
Any person can travel to Baja. Any person can snorkel with fish, go whale watching and sleep on a beach. But not everyone can say they shared these experiences with two friends as great as Tara and Chabelo.  It’s not the place you travel, but the people you travel with that make the difference. That’s what sets this trip apart from the rest, and what will bring me and my students back each year.

Kyla next to a Sweet Pityha Cactus at Fox Canyon

Kyla Burns
Johnston High School Science Teacher
Johnston, Iowa

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wild Wildlife All Around in Alaska by Molli Bichrt

I am 16 years old attending the Hudson High School and I participated in the Green Edventures trip to Alaska.  This coming year I will be a junior. I enjoy sports (such as soccer) and love to be outdoors.

July 9, 2010
We all awoke to a great surprise – sunshine! After eating a hearty breakfast, we hopped in the van and headed down to Resurrection Bay. We were loaded onto the boat the Stellar Sunrise and jetted off to Holgate Glacier. On our way, we had the pleasure of seeing sea otters, a humpback whale, sea lions, and puffins. The whale appeared several times and splashed out of the water through its blow hole. About 2 hours later, we arrived at the base of Holgate Glacier, where the glacial ice meets the ocean.

After the shock of how beautiful it was wore off, we ate lunch and learned about the glacier. it moves at a rate of 2ft per day. The water in close proximity to the glacier is so full of silt that a secchi disk could only be seen 9 inches from the surface. At this point in time, the sun slid behind the clouds and the wind started to gain speed so Captain Tanya thought it would be a smart idea to trek back to the calm waters of Resurrection Bay.

On our journey home, we viewed starfish, jellyfish, bald eagles, and several birds including marbled murelette, common mures, pigeon gilamonts, and black-legged kittwakes. At one point in time, a couple of Dall Porpoise swam along the bow of the boat. All around, it was a fascinating day full of wildlife and fun experiences.

Kayaking in a T-shirt Under Blue Sky in Seward by Alex Wakefield

My name is Alex Wakefield. I grew up in Hudson, WI and currently to still live there as a senior in high school. I work as a nanny and in my free time, which is very little, I like to baby sit, hand with friends and family, horseback ride, and to be outdoors. I came to Alaska with Green Edventures because it has so much to offer. It also has been a life long goal of mine. I’ve learned a lot.

July 10, 2010
Seward, AK
The morning of our kayak day started off with waking up with a blue sky and the sun shining downJ. After getting fitted into PFDs we headed down the road to launch the kayaks for a 6-mile journey to Caines Head State Park. Along the way we saw many kinds of birds, but we also saw sea otters up close. One I remember I could see eating an urchin.

As we paddled towards our destination, we got to see the coastline in detail. I was in awe that just 6 miles of coast has so much to look at. When we arrived at Caines Head, we parked our kayaks on the shore and headed on a 2-mile hike to the WWII bunkers. The view was amazing. We saw all of Resurrection Bay and across were snow covered mountains.

After eating lunch, we headed back down and journeyed back. My favorite part was not only getting to explore the bunkers but getting to be right on the water and enjoying being on the water in just a t-shirt! Overall, this was an awesome day and 16 (roundtrip) miles of fun.