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International Natural History Courses

VVC began offering natural history tours to other countries in the spring semester of 2000.  The purpose of these courses is to provide opportunities for students to learn first-hand about the natural biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation practices of other countries.  Students are then encouraged to evaluate our country's environmental practices and policies in light of what they learn by foreign travel.  We especially encourage biology majors to take these courses; the experience enriches their entire career.  Others may choose to take the course for the opportunity to travel and the learning experience.  The non-credit option is ideal for those who are not enrolled in other college courses.  The Costa Rica class will be offered in spring 2004, and students will be given an option of participating in field research projects on this trip.

Costa Rica

May-June 2000 - Poas, Volcano Arenal, Selva Verde, Monte Verde, and Carrara.

May-June 2001 - Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, Playa Grande


A quick birdwatching stop to see a keel-billed toucan..

Kayaking in mangrove swamp at estuary near Playa Grande


Gearing up for the cloud forest zipline.

Ziplining through the canopy

Participants Chet, Nate, David, Christy, and Scott

May-June 2002 - Corcovado (Drake's Bay) on the Osa Peninsula, Wilson Botanical Garden, and Saviegre Mountain Lodge and Cerro del Muerto (no pictures available)

The Natural History of Costa Rica course will be offered in the spring semester of 2004.  The itinerary is in the planning stages.  The travel cost is expected to be between $1,800 - $2,200, which includes airfare, meals, lodging, and ground transportation for a ten-day trip.  Other expenses include VVC registration (3-unit class) and customary tips for our guide, bus driver, food service, etc.  If you are interested in participating, contact Pam MacKay (


Belize and Guatemala

May-June 2003 - Pook's Hill (Mayan cave exploration, plants, birds, and wildlife study), Tikal (Mayan ruins, plants, birds, wildlife), Rum Point (snorkeling Belize Reef, birdwatching at Monkey River and Coxcomb Basin)

 Lodging at Pook's Hill 

Mayan ruins at Tikal

        Examining the dulap of an anole species.


Entrance to Mayan cave, Achtun Tunichil Muknal - We had to swim through the pool to enter!

John Salib is ready to explore the cave!

Our natural history guide, Benjamin Cruz, a native of Belize.
A coffee snake was found inside a room at Pook's Hill!

Crossing the Roaring River to get to Achtun Tunichil Muknal; the river originates from the mouth of the cave.

Wedding of Steve Myers (VVC adjunct instructor of "bird class")  and Vesta Brown at Rum Point Inn

Mayan pots were plentiful inside the cave.

Natural history hike at Pook's Hill in Belize.

Student Tom Elder climbs to the top of a Mayan temple at Tikal, Guatemala.

Last Modified: 2019-10-29.

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