Ohio Wesleyan Students Help Chart New Courses in Costa Rica
By Cole Hatcher
Name: Austin Riegel ’21
Hometown: Marion, Ohio
OWU Connection experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant “Using Remote Sensing to engage in Community Mapping and Citizen Science” in Costa Rica
Riegel and Lucas Farmer ’19 spent their spring break in Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica, after receiving a Theory-to-Practice Grant to conduct research using a drone to map the land to help the community with environmental concerns. Information from the drone mapping can be used to construct plans for resource management and city planning.
Why did you choose this OWU Connection experience?
“I chose this connection because I was extremely intrigued by remote sensing in my Environmental Alterations course I took last semester. I also wanted to have some experience on how to navigate through a language barrier when I teach because I'm an education major. This also gave me the opportunity to mentor and listen to my professor more one on one and that's my learning style.
What was your very favorite moment of the experience and why?
“My favorite moment of the experience was seeing the sloth and capuchin monkeys in person in the wild. This was my favorite part because not many people get see these things in the wild, you may see them in a zoo but seeing it in the wild is whole new level. It also opened my eyes and made me think how beautiful the world is.”
“I learned many things like how to fly a drone, how to engage students in an activity that I made up myself, but the most interesting lesson I learned was how different the culture is in the U.S. compared to Costa Rica.
“In the U.S., citizens are handed more opportunities to succeed and there is poverty, but people can make a living. In Costa Rica, people go through rough patches, don't have many things, and don't have a lot of money, but still find a way to make a living, get through the hard times, and still be generally happy. It is hard to describe in words.”
Why do experiences like this matter?
“It allows students to go out and experience the world and something that they genuinely care about and gives them valuable skills that will help students out in their future careers.”
Why did you choose Ohio Wesleyan?
“I chose OWU for many reasons. The campus is really close to home. I have many family members that live in the city of Delaware, so the campus was already like a second home. I loved the fact the campus was small and I can also get really involved on campus because of its size.”
What are your plans after graduation?
“I plan to become a high school science teacher at the high school I went to, which was Marion Harding High School.”