Conserving our planet's botanical resources and ecosystems

January 2010 Amazon Trip Student Logs

On January 20-28, 2010, students and families joined CanopyMeg for the Amazon Rainforest Workshop: The Ecology and Culture of the Amazon Jungle. Below are student logs from the trip.

Jessa Baker-Moss writes:

Our amazing trip to the Amazon taught me so many things. As a liberal arts student, I’ve had little access to scientific information. Through helping Professor Lowman collect data I learned about the process through which researchers gain knowledge. I never imagined there would be so much paper cutting involved! Graphing and measuring the area and herbivory of the leaves was a tedious yet rewarding process, and it opened my eyes to all of the hard and careful work that it takes to generate statistics (and now I know words like “herbivory”!) I enjoyed hearing about the flora and fauna- I never knew that rainforest leaves grow larger towards the bottom of the forest, or that the “tipping point” at which climate change will be partially irreversible is 20%. The fact that we are at 17% now has made me realize how urgently the issue of deforestation needs to be addressed.

However, the part about our trip that I enjoyed the most was the cultural immersion. I haven’t spoken Spanish since high school and I was surprised by how much of it I picked up in a short week. It truly is much easier to learn a language when surrounded by native speakers. It was difficult to be seen and verbally identified as a tourist- I don’t think that any traveler wants to be seen that way- yet by seeing ourselves through the Peruvian’s eyes, I understood both them and ourselves better. Visiting the village on the last day was one of the most powerful experiences of the trip. To see how little we have and how much we have in comparison made me value my life in the USA a lot more and reinforced my desire to pursue a career that allows me to work directly with people, so that I can help provide resources to those in need.

Now that I’m home, I intend to educate others about what I have learned in the rainforest, and to be more aware of my consumption in my own day to day life. I have already showed all of my friends and family the photos that I have taken, along with information regarding climate change and deforestation, as well as the need for clean water and health care in third world countries. I think the fact that I have been there and seen it with my own eyes will make these problems more real to my loved ones and compel them to take action in order to help find solutions.