WWU Students, Faculty Visit Costa Rica

For many college students, spring break means Panama City, Padre Island or Cancun. For some William Woods University students it meant learning about rainforests, volcanoes and birds.


Jim Wilson, WWU biology instructor, led 18 people on an eight-day tour to Costa Rica last month. While in the Central American country, the group stayed in country hotels and roadside inns, while venturing out to see the countryside.


“I loved it. Oh my gosh, it was beautiful. It was an awesome experience,” Lindsey Pace, a senior interpreting major from Rolla, said. She particularly liked the monkeys and the coffee plants, which were in bloom.


Ashley Adams, a graduate of South Callaway High School, also had a great time. As a freshman biology major who hopes to attend veterinary medicine school, the trip was especially meaningful for her.


“I really learned a lot,” she said. “It was amazing to see first hand living examples of what I had studied in the classroom. I’m grateful I got to go and I’ll never forget it.”


Wilson, who has led two other tours to Costa Rica, has been teaching at William Woods since retiring from the Missouri Department of Conversation, where he was a specialist in ornithology (the study of birds) from 1977 to 2001.


Also on the trip was Katharine Mayne, a WWU assistant professor of biology, and her family.


While in Costa Rica, the group took zip-lines through the Los Angeles Cloud Forest canopy and walked through the Selva Verde Rainforest with a naturalist guide.


A visit to Arenal Volcano National Park was rewarded with smoldering boulders tumbling from the summit and a brilliant nighttime eruption that made the sky glow.

The volcano eruption was Sadie Mudd’s favorite part of the trip. The junior education major from Fulton said, “The trip was definitely the experience of a lifetime. I would love to go back.”


The group also floated down the Sarapiqui River, viewing monkeys, sloths, iguanas, a great variety of birds, plants, trees and even a caiman along the way. Another day they went whitewater rafting on the same river, where they saw an array of birds and other wildlife.


“In addition to learning about tropical ecosystems, students gained an appreciation for the language, foods and customs of another culture,” Wilson said. “It was the most delightful tour I’ve ever led and I know that everyone was extremely rewarded by the experience.”