A study abroad trip to Honduras over Winter Break may conjure up thoughts of sightseeing, writing in journals and laying on the beach, but that wasn’t the case for Dr. Teresa Carroll’s Field Studies in Marine Biology class.
In January, thirteen students traveled with Dr. Carroll, an associate professor of biology at Drury, to Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras. The students were conducting research that would be used at the Roatan Institute for Marine Science. “There was literally zero time for laying on the beach,” said Alex Drobnic, a junior biology major who went on the trip.
A typical day went like this:
7 a.m. – Breakfast
8 a.m. – Pre-dive meeting
9 a.m. – Scuba dive to collect samples and identify wildlife.
11:30 a.m. – Lunch
1 p.m. – Another dive to collect data.
4 p.m. – Enter data.
6 p.m. – Dinner
“I told Dr. Carroll that she had a good plan to wear all of us out during the day with our research so we couldn’t get into any trouble at night,” Drobnic joked.
All of the students had to be pre-certified to scuba dive before going on the trip, and they had to have taken Introduction to Marine Biology and Zoology. Prior to going on the trip, the students also picked up a side project that was less about the students’ brains and more about their hearts.
Dr. Carroll has taken students to Roatan before, during those trips she became familiar with SOL International Foundation, which works with local youth to promote education and quality of life. On her last visit in 2011, Dr. Carroll asked officials with SOL International what the youth of Roatan needed. The answer, rain boots. During the rainy season, sewage mixes with the rain and mud to form a parasitic soup that the children of Roatan have to walk through, which often leads to severe illnesses.
In the fall of 2012, Carroll and her students made t-shirts with the slogan “Rainboots for Roatan” and sold them for $10 each, and they solicited donations. The students raised nearly $3,000, and, one night during their study abroad experience, the Drury students distributed rain boots to more than 100 children. There was enough money left over to buy cartoon character backpacks stuffed with school supplies for the children, too.
“When we left, there were 14 people on an amazing high,” Dr. Carroll said. “Just the thought that we had helped these little kids, the love we shared was unbelievable.”
Dr. Carroll plans to raise more money to buy more boots for Roatan children. If you would like to make a donation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications at Drury.