Becki Cohn-Vargas, Co-Owner, Makengue Reserve

22 March 2016

In 2015, the Makengue experience was now a well-known and popular option for American University students with competitive application process.

Professor Tudge returned and brought along Professor Jennie Carr from Washington College who wanted to check out the program design and determine if she would bring a group.

The year’s research teams included: the science team who expanded the focused bioblitz and now had quite a list of plants and animals that they identified and began to develop a Makengue field guide. The Environmental Education Team developed educational materials and hosted the first teacher day where local teachers were invited to Makengue for a cultural exchange, lectures by the Professor Tudge and Professor Carr. They also created educational posters posters, and gave them to the teachers along with a booklet of environmental activities, and a flash drive with electronic copies of all materials.

Environmental outreach from the Makengue students and professors

Dorian Russell, returning as student leader had obtained a small grant for a girls soccer clinic to hire a local Nicaraguan coach to train local high school girls for two days in El Castillo. The AU students visited El Castillo fortress had lunch with the female soccer players and had another game of soccer in El Castillo. This time, both team were mixed groups of Nicaraguans and Americans and more girls participated.

The communications group produced a great promotional video about Makengue. The science group continued to develop the bioblitz and began serious work on the field guide with the many photos from all three years. The students loved meeting Milu, a young spider monkey that was brought to Makengue to rescue and release by MARENA, the Nicaraguan Environmental agency. Everyone posed with the little monkey who clung to their upper arms like a blood pressure cuff. Milu found her way into a few of the films.

The environmental education group taught a lesson in a second grade classroom in El Castillo. The AU students were amazed that the children did not know about the tapir. The communications group also made an educational film about leafcutter ants to be shown the following year.

Back in Managua, the students enjoyed the volcanoes, going to the colonial town of Granada, and dancing salsa at the Allende outdoor pavilion.

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