Costa Rica trip proves to be a fun and enriching experience

September 11, 2019 — by Anouk Yeh

On Aug. 29, 18 students traveled to Costa Rica to participate in a five-day conservation effort. The main goal of the trip was for the students to learn about sustainability and conservation of Costa Rican wildfire and environment. 

Throughout the five days, students toured the local rainforest, created a mural at the local sea turtle hatchery, went on a sustainability tour, learned about wildlife monitoring, reforested mangrove trees and worked with local wildlife preservation organizations such as the Latin American Sea Turtles and Kids Saving the Rainforest Resource Center. 

The group’s main focus was on preserving and protecting endangered nesting sea turtles and helping their hatchlings. 

“Most of the days, we worked with sea turtles,” senior Alena Jarret said. “We helped baby sea turtles get to the ocean and made sure the mom turtles were safe.”. 

The Costa Rica trip began in 2015 under the direction of  two Class of 2017 alumni, Costa Rica-born twin sisters Daviana and Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar. They wanted to promote the balance between socio-economic development and environmental conservation. The trip soon became an annual school project coordinated by science teacher Kristen Thomson.

Throughout the years, the responsibility of planning and leading the trip has been passed down through the Berkowitz-Sklar family. This year, the trip was spearheaded by the twins’ mom Beth Berkowitz and their youngest brother, Julian, who is currently spending a semester abroad in Costa Rica and Thomson. 

For Jarrett, one of the most memorable moments from the trip was hiking to the beach at night. 

 “We went on this night hike at about 10 p.m. through the rain forest with flashlights,” Jarrett said. “When we got to the beach, we had to turn off all the flashlights, because they would harm the turtles. The only light we had guiding us was this lightning storm that was going on.”

Jarrett said that the trip was a gratifying experience. 

“It was very eye opening,” she said. “It was crazy to see how people spent their lives and learn about a different lifestyle.”

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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