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A study-abroad trip to Honduras over winter break might conjure up thoughts of sightseeing, writing in journals and lying on the beach, but that wasn’t the case for a local student’s winter trip.
Delaney Sweeney, of Souder, a junior at Drury University in Springfield, attended Dr. Teresa Carroll’s “Field Studies in Marine Biology” class trip.
In January, 13 Drury students traveled with Carroll, an associate professor of biology at Drury, to Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras. The students did research that would be used at the Roatan Institute for Marine Science.
A typical day went like this: meals, dive planning, diving, collecting and sorting data, and identifying wildlife. 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.”
“We 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,” said Alex Drobnic, a fellow student also who went on the trip.
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. Carroll has taken students to Roatan before.
During those trips she became familiar with SOL International Foundation, which works with local youths to promote education and quality of life.
On her visit in 2011, she asked officials with SOL International what the youths of Roatan needed. The answer was rain boots. During the rainy season, sewage mixes with the rain and mud to form a parasitic soup that children have to walk through, which often leads to severe illnesses.
Last fall, 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. 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.
“My favorite part of the trip was our interaction with the children of Roatan. Yes the diving was amazing, and I learned so much about research and marine life, but seeing the joy on the kids was awesome” said Sweeney. “When we left, there were 14 people on an amazing high,” Carroll said. “Just the thought that we had helped these little kids, the love we shared was unbelievable.”
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. There is also youtube video about the trip produced by Drury University.
(Story by Mark Miller, Drury’s associate director of marketing and communications.)