Summer Subtropical Ecology Trip to Puerto Rico
Subtropical Zone Ecology is a for-credit summer school course taught by Maret faculty in Puerto Rico, where the environment is a living laboratory.
Students spend a month living and learning on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Subtropical Zone Ecology program (formally located in Sanibel) is in its twenty-ninth year with over 500 graduates.
The program, which originally took place on Sanibel Island in Florida, is in its thirtieth year with over 550 graduates. This is the second excursion to this Caribbean destination.
The course includes three academic components: an intensive scientific field investigation of marine science and ecology; an examination of contemporary environmental literature; and an elective with choices of Spanish language enrichment (strongly recommended) or community engagement or individual, scientific field research.
Students must have completed the ninth grade to enroll in the program. Grading is based on student participation and performance in each of the three segments of the course work. Maret School awards one science credit upon successful completion of the course.
Mornings are spent in the physical examination of the various marine, freshwater, and associated ecosystems. The morning class meets for 3.5 hours per day, five days per week for the entire month. Students learn about the subtropical ecosystems and habitats of Puerto Rico based on land excursions and observations, snorkeling, group reports and discussions, and individual laboratory reports. Class assignments involve mini-papers that require the students to make field observations and gather information from literature research. Animal and plant samples are collected, observed, and then released unharmed in all of the zones studied: the open beach, the grass-flats, the mangrove swamp, and the open waters of the Caribbean. The class is also supplemented by presentations from experts in different scientific fields.
Students have afternoons free for elective work, writing laboratory assignments and/or journals, or recreation. Chores, such as cooking, cleaning, or shopping, are assigned daily and rotate regularly; teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility are stressed continuously during the experience.
Evening classes expose the students to current and historical thought and concern about environmental issues through selected readings, group discussions, journal writing and sharing of personal journal entries with the class. The class meets for 2.5 hours per day, five days per week for the entire month. The literature studied varies from year to year. In addition, local environmentalists visit the group and present lectures on environmental problems from a scientific, social, and political viewpoint and answer questions posed by the class. Four journal entries are required each week, two on a specific topic and two on topics of the students' choosing.
Students also complete an elective which consists of either Spanish language enrichment and Puerto Rican cultural immersion (strongly recommended), or an approved community service and community engagement project (strength in Spanish language required), or an approved scientific field study project on some aspect of their exposure to the ecoloy of Vieques. Students work closely with one of the staff members as they plan and carry out their elective work. A final project is presented as a paper for the chosen elective.
Trip Location & Dates
Vieques, Puerto Rico
$6,500.00 (includes flights, lodging, meals, all materials, transportation, etc.)
Other Expenses: personal spending money (recommend approx. $300.00)
One science credit (Maret School)
Ms. Krystle Merchant Environmental Literature / Writing Instructor
(2 previous trip)