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