Travel Programs

The Delicate Connection of People and the Biology of the Rainforest

This field-based program takes place in a mountaintop cloud forest in Costa Rica where climate change is strikingly visible. Participants will learn inquiry-based ways of exploring the natural world with children and how to construct an engaging, accurate, and interdisciplinary curriculum on ecology and conservation. Examine the characteristics and interactions of tropical fauna and flora and the effects of global warming on this unique ecology under the guidance of local biologists and experts. Explore the anthropological  human history of this remote and transforming mountaintop community and examine the dynamics between different groups of people who have contributed to its definition and evolution, including conservationists, farmers, hotel owners, artists, and teachers. Return home equipped to engage local communities in a deeper understanding of the natural environment and activate classrooms and educational settings in pursuit of local and systemic change.

2020 Course Dates: August 1-15

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  • 2019 Program Fees

    This program is open to all educators. Bank Street affiliation is not required.

    Tuition Type Tuition  Lodging, most meals, local transportation, and guest speakers  Scholarship for first 10 applicants* Total Cost with scholarship Total Cost without scholarship
    No Credit (80 CTLE) $2,000 $1,850 – $500 $3,350 $3,850
    2 Credits** $3,224*** $1,850 – $500 $4,574 $5,074
    3 Credits** $4,836*** $1,850 – $500 $6,186 $6,686

    Please note: Participants are responsible for purchasing airfare and travel insurance. Transfers to and from the San Jose, Costa Rica, airport are included for those who arrive at the airport at or before the arrival of the recommended group flight. More details will be provided as we plan for the program.

    *$500 in funding from an anonymous donor is available for the first 10 participants who register, as listed in the chart above. You will be notified of receipt upon acceptance to the program.
    **This course may fulfill the science requirement (EDUC 535 or EDUC 551) for matriculated students. Consult with your advisor for more details.
    ***Tuition is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.
    Bank Street Cooperating Teacher Vouchers and Bank Street Staff Vouchers will decrease the program cost to $1,850.

    This program is open to all educators. Bank Street affiliation is not required.

  • Sample Day

    Butterflies and Bats

    8:45 AM Butterfly walk in Santuario Ecológico led by Mark Wainwright, naturalist and educator
    12:00 PM Cooking class; prepare lunch
    3:00 PM Tour the Bat Jungle with Richard LaVal, founder and bat researcher
    5:00 PM Walk to Baja de Tigre
    5:30 PM Dinner and Bat mist-netting with Richard LaVal
  • Co-Instructors: Marian Howard and Patricia Mazuera–Johnson

    Marian Howard, EdD, is a Faculty Member in the Museum Education Program at Bank Street College. She regularly teaches Museum Seminar I and II, and Observation and Recording, and has taught Special Education and Reading Courses at Bank Street. She has been a classroom teacher and special education teacher in Maine and NYC. Recently, she advised a NYC public school to help them integrate the use of museums into their curriculum.

    Dr. Howard has a second home in Monteverde, which she purchased after studying the community for her dissertation, “An Alternative Way of Being.” She currently advises at two bilingual schools in Monteverde, Costa Rica. She is particularly interested in Lucy Spraque Mitchell’s concept of Young Geographers, which integrates the human element into the study of the natural environment. Her EdD in Anthropology is from Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds an MSEd from Bank Street College in Special Education and an MA in Psychology from Columbia University. Her BA from Sarah Lawrence College is in Sociology and Philosophy.

    Patricia Mazuera–Johnson, MSEd, teaches Spanish at the Trinity School in New York City and is an adjunct faculty member at Bank Street. Previously, she taught second grade at Fieldston lower school in Riverdale, NY. Prior to moving to New York City, she taught Science, Spanish, and English as a New Language to elementary, middle, and high school students in Malaga, Spain; Shanghai, China; and Boca Raton, Florida. In addition, she was the founder and managing director of Shanghai Orientations, a consulting company for European and American executives moving to China. During her time in Shanghai, she was an education consultant providing support for Chinese and Spanish students applying to American and British prep schools and universities. Mazuera-Johnson earned her MSEd in Museum Education from Bank Street College and her BS in Biology from Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut. She also completed graduate coursework in Marine Biology and Ecology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

  • Guest Expert: Mark Wainwright

    Mark Wainwright works independently as an illustrator, writer, and instructor for tropical ecology courses, and is a naturalist guide. He has also worked as a field assistant for research projects on amphibians and butterflies. His publications include five titles in the Costa Rica Field Guide series: Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Tracks, and Cloud Forest Birds. He has illustrated two similar guides for Belize and one for Panama. He has written and illustrated two books: The Natural History of Costa Rican Mammals (2000) and the children’s book Jungle Jumble (1997). Currently he is finishing work with a colleague on a compact disc of Costa Rican frog calls.

  • Partner Organization: The Monteverde Institute (MVI)

    The Monteverde Institute (MVI) is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1986 in the mountainous Costa Rican community of Monteverde.  The MVI was established to guide the increased tourism in a positive and productive manner for the benefit of the visitors and local community. The MVI accomplishes this goal by integrating academic programs, research, and community initiatives into dynamic programs. Students, staff, local experts, and community members interact to address local issues through participatory research, academic studies, solution design, and implementation.

    The Institute’s programs are based on the belief that in order to achieve sustainability—both locally and globally—a combination of environmental, social, cultural, economic, and technological factors must be carefully considered. To that end, MVI fosters a synergistic approach that blends international study abroad, applied research, and community engagement. Its programs focus on sustainable development, ecotourism, Spanish language and culture, conservation biology, community health, land use planning, integrated water resources and social justice.

  • Bank Street in Costa Rica


Costa Rica hummingbird on study abroad
This has been by far the most amazing course I’ve ever taken, if not the best trip I’ve ever been on. Becoming so connected to one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems and the people that are protecting it is an experience that has made a life long impact.
Lizzie, 3rd grade teacher