Earlier this month, TIDE’s Ridge to Reef Expeditions program hosted a group of 20 American students from Drake University in Iowa. This was a very unique group for the program—not only because of its size (the largest group expedition to date!), but also because TIDE worked directly with the university to organize this expedition for the students. Under Ridge to Reef Expedition Manager Caroline Oliver, the program is growing and expanding, and accommodating more unique groups such as this one. Ridge to Reef Expeditions has become one of several successful business ventures that are helping achieve TIDE’s goal of financial sustainability.
TIDE’s staff and rangers worked with local tour guides to give this large group of 20 students and 2 professors a wonderful experience in Toledo
Expedition participants volunteer with TIDE and provide valuable support for ongoing research and monitoring projects, and participation fees collected go directly to funding future conservation efforts and management of TIDE’s protected areas. The Drake University group helped TIDE with a number of important projects during the three weeks they were here. They set up yellow-headed parrot nesting boxes in Payne’s Creek National Park for the yellow-headed parrot monitoring program. In Punta Gorda town, they interviewed local residents about their seafood choices for a lionfish awareness study. They worked with the Xucaneb community organization in San Pedro Columbia Village to plant 190 trees for the riparian reforestation program. The group then shared some of the lessons they learned with schoolchildren in Punta Negra village, through a series of classes and artwork projects, contributing to TIDE’s ongoing community outreach and education efforts. The group also had a blast exploring Toledo, zip-lining, river tubing, experiencing local cultures and more!
The volunteer group had plenty of opportunities to explore nature in Belize’s many pristine ecosystems. Here they have TIDE ranger, Mr. Eugenio Ah, to guide them through the bush.
Participating in a Ridge to Reef Expedition is a great way to visit a new place and experience all the culture and wildlife that Belize has to offer, while directly supporting important conservation work. Volunteers have access to local people and places that would not be possible otherwise, allowing for off-the-beaten-path exploration, and invaluable two-way learning exchanges. TIDE is extremely appreciative of Ridge to Reef volunteers and goes out of the way to ensure their volunteer experience is as rewarding as possible! The group from Drake University was very pleased with their expedition and have already expressed interest in sending another group of students next year. Ms. Oliver is currently working with several other universities as well to design more study abroad opportunities through the program.
Ridge to Reef volunteers are involved in TIDE’s work both on land and at sea, experiencing the full ridge-to-reef landscape that makes Toledo so special!
2016 is turning out to be a very exciting year for Ridge to Reef, with several upcoming expeditions in the works already. To learn more about what Ridge to Reef has to offer, visit fromridgetoreef.com. Interested in designing an expedition tailored to fit your group’s needs? Email Caroline Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss options!