This alumni guest post is by Jordan Ewbank, a Sustainability Studies alum who graduated with honors in 2015 and was part of the SUST 390 Sustainable Campus Spring 2015 class that did the preliminary research for RU’s first STARS report. While a student, Jordan interned for the Microcosm Film Project with SUST adjunct professor Michele Hoffman Trotter. After graduation, he traveled to Costa Rica for a post-graduate internship in permaculture.
From the beginning of June until the middle of August, I took part in an internship offered by a non-profit research group in Costa Rica known as CIRENAS (Centro de Investigacion de Recursos Naturales y Sociales, or the Center for Social and Natural Resource Investigation). The primary focus of my internship time down in the tropics was helping CIRENAS build a their new research campus, a living laboratory for permaculture research in the tropics.
I spent approximately two months living mostly off of the grid, planting literally hundreds of trees and completing research projects on permaculture including biochar methods and improving soil condition with animal rotations. Although my interests in the Sustainability Studies program generally centered around urban agricultural systems, this internship greatly expanded my knowledge of growing conditions in other parts of the world, methods in arboriculture (using trees as staple crops), and ways of improving soil water retention.
During my off time on the farm, I spent plenty of time getting to know the other interns, horseback riding, hiking, and learning how to surf (badly). To say I enjoyed my time there would be an understatement, and I have been invited back by the internship manager to help train the intern group next year as well, which I will hopefully be pursuing this coming June.