Student Stories: Costa Rica is fertile ground for learning

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Allison Hoover didn't quite know what she was getting herself into last spring when she traveled to Costa Rica with Penn State’s Spanish for Agricultural Sciences program.

The Agricultural and Extension Education major went with 10 other Penn State students to the city of Turrialba to learn the Spanish language and explore the diverse agriculture of Costa Rica's central valley. With her minors in international agriculture and Spanish, this was the perfect environment for Hoover.

"The central valley is known for its agriculture and its productivity and diversity," she said. "We went there with intentions of living with host families for a month and learning Spanish in a small school, four hours a day, five days a week."

Of the 11 students who went on the trip, Hoover had a unique experience, partly because she received a grant through the College of Agricultural Sciences' Office of International Programs for her international agriculture minor.

"The grant came through for anyone who was in the international agriculture minor and the Schreyer Honors College to do thesis research abroad during the summer," she explained. "My project described secondary agricultural education in the area where we were staying."

Hoover stayed two weeks longer than the rest of the students to do her research.

"I spent quite a few days at a technical agriculture school outside of town, observing classes and talking to students and teachers," she said. "There was also a local high school in town, which has an agriculture class that all students are required to take."

She talked to teachers, made connections and learned about Costa Rica's public education system.

Another surprising addition to Hoover's trip happened on one of the program excursions to EARTH University, an international school dedicated to agricultural science. She found the next step she would take in her academic career.

"I'm going to study abroad there next summer," she said. "It's not a Penn State study-abroad program yet, so I'm doing it separately, but the credits will transfer back."

EARTH (Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda) University offers technical agriculture classes, which all are taught in Spanish, Hoover noted. "I will be at a campus with students from all over the world. I'm excited about that because the language and the culture really interest me."

Hoover hopes to use her education and research to focus on global agricultural development through education and extension, especially in Spanish-speaking parts of the world.


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Last Updated September 09, 2015