AMERICAN UNIVERSITY 2013
Becki Cohn-Vargas, Co-Owner, Makengue Reserve
22 March 2016
The first Makengue Student Trip included students and professors from American University (AU)who came during Spring Break.
This innovative, newly developed American University research course was designed to involve students in helping Makengue owners define the future of the reserve. How best could the reserve goals of preservation, education, and community outreach be met?
Professor Keho Kim and Graduate Advisor, Angela Pinaglia were the leaders together with Vice Provost, Virginia Stallings. The students were broken into three research groups: communications, business, and science. Each research group made recommendations to Makengue owners, giving ways to meet the reserve goals. The communications team produced videos about the property (and here), the science team made a suggestion to initiate a bioblitz, categorizing flora and fauna of the property. The business team investigated and shared the pros and cons of the options of private and non-profit status and designed a logo for Makengue that we really love.
With trips to Sabalos and El Castillo, the students tasted delicious Nicaraguan fare, visited a 17th century fortress, and met some of the locals.
On the last day at Makengue, the AU students shared the results of their research with a group of local residents including leaders from the Ministry of Education, a local non-profit environmental group and MARENA, the governmental environmental agency who brought a small 3-month old fawn named Bambi whose mother had been shot by hunters. Makengue staff subsequently nurtured and released him. The final day was spent touring the Managua area. The group stayed at the lovely bed and breakfast, Villa Maya Boutique Hotel, beginning a tradition of beginning and ending the 10-day trip at the hotel, with beautiful gardens and elegant rooms where they enjoyed a taste of luxury after the rustic Makengue experience. The trip was a great success and its popularity spread across the AU campus.
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