Field Study 2008

Itinerary   |   Video   |   Participants' Own Words   |   Participants' Preferred Photos   |   Day-by-Day   |  

2008 Field Study Group

2008 Tour Participants

From Left to Right, Back Row: Shelly Bohn, Emily Treu, Travis De Wolfe.

Middle Row: Jennifer Blazek, Crystal Retzlaff, Jessica Cady-Bartholomew, Kathryn Eilert, Sara Vanderstappen, Darby Brown.

Front Row: Dr. Jesus Olmos, Dr. Othon Reynoso, Margarita Castellanos, Lupita Diaz, Heriberto N.C., Cynthia E.

Missing: Dr. Michel Wattiaux

Mexico Field Study August 16th-26th
  Saturday Aug. 16th Sunday Aug. 17th Monday Aug. 18th Tuesday Aug. 19th Wednesday Aug. 20th
During the Day

☼ Arrive in Guadalajara

☼ Meet the Mexican students and Professors who will join the tour

☼ Visit Centro Historico

☼ Environmental Conservation Project - Rio Ayuquila

☼ Comunidad de Zenzontla - greenhouse plant production and small meat and milk producers

☼ Biosfera Sierra de Manantlan (joyas estacion cientifica)

☼ Presentations by local scientists of Centro Universitario de La Costa del Sur (CUCSUR) and agents of Rio Ayuquila Project

☼ Greenhouse Tomato Production

☼ Tropical Agricultural, Production (dual-purpose production of pasture and coconuts)

☼ Pacific Ocean

Night Guadalajara Autlan de Navarro Autlan de Navarro Autlan de Navarro Manzanillo

  Thursday Aug. 21st Friday Aug. 22nd Saturday Aug. 23rd Sunday Aug. 24th Monday Aug. 25th Tuesday Aug. 26th
During the Day

☼ Visit a milk cooperative - PROLEA and small local producers

☼ PROAN: commercial production of eggs, milk, and swine

☼ Visit to INIFAP of the Region of Los Altos - focusing on maize and agave production

☼ Family farm production of meat

☼ Milk processing and artesian production of cheese and cajeta

☼ CUALTOS: students go home with a family for the rest of the day (home-stay) and optional trip to the Disco

☼ Morning with families

☼ Carne Asada meal with all the families

☼ CUALTOS: Welcome by Chancellor and a presentation on history and culture of the Region of Los Altos

☼ Visit of CUALTOS

☼Visit of a tequila processor

☼ Option of shopping in the market of Tepatitlan or a Visit to a local high school

☼ Fly out of Guadalajara to Wisconsin



San Juan de los Lagos






Check out this YouTube video of the field study made by one of the participants, Jessica Cady-Bartholomew:

In Participants' Own Words
Read participant's stories about a favorite visit!

Kathryn Eilert

Kathryn Eilert

Click here for Kathryn's story, "Teaching in Mexico"!

Sara Vanderstappen

Sara Vanderstappen

Click here for Sara's story, "PROAN"!

Travis De Wolfe

Travis De Wolfe

Click here for Travis' story, "PROLEA"!

Crystal Retzlaff

Crystal Retzlaff

Click here for Crystal's story, "PROLEA"!

Jessica Cady-Bartholomew

Jessica Cady-Bartholomew

Click here for Jessica's story, "Site Visit - Ayuquila River" !

Emily Treu

Emily Treu

Click here for Emily's story, "Small Dairy Farm"!

Darby Brown

Darby Brown

Click here for Darby's story, "Reflection on a Mexico Visit"!

Participant's Preferred Photos
See their favorite photos!

Kathryn Eilert

Kathryn Eilert

Laundry Day
Luis Martinez
Laundry day – Ayuquila River (or are those are clothes drying out after the rain????)
Luis Martinez – Ayuquila River Hero, Cucsur Faculty Luis amazed me because he was part of a group that had a vision to preserve the river for generations to come. The team’s hard work, commitment and enthusiasm are inspiring. Moving people to action is difficult work. Their story is incredible.
Tomatoes - Are these tomatoes destined for my local grocery store? I will never look at my produce in the same way. There is a human face behind everything. Who is it? What is their story?

Sara Vanderstappen

Sara Vanderstappen

Sleepy Sunday
The Podium
Sleepy Sunday - This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip because they are my hermanos mexicanos. Staying at Heriberto's house was a ton of fun. Jess and I had an amazing Mexican family that we got very attached too. It was interesting being immersed into a family so different than the one that I stayed with while I was in Oaxaca for two months. Staying with this family was one of the highlights of my trip, not only because it was full cultural immersion, but also because it was interesting learning the traditions and styles of a Mexican family in a different region than where I was previously. Additionally, Heriberto helped me learn a lot of agricultural terms in Spanish. We had a lot of fun with him and were very sad to leave him in Mexico when we came back home.
Podium - I chose a podium picture as another one of my pictures because the theme of Study Tour 2008 was the Olympics. We even had the Olympic Gold van. We made a podium wherever possible. Having a general theme for the trip made it more fun. And, let's face it, everyone liked having the Olympics in the hotel pool. It was a really good bonding experience.
Globalization - My third picture is about the globalization that I saw in Mexico. When we were in the tiny village in the mountains, it was very obvious that the people there didn't have very much. They had tubs of sitting outside to catch rain-water, their clothes were drying along the fence line, and many of the children were running around without any shoes. As we were leaving the village, I noticed this satellite hooked up to someone's house, and recognized it as globalization at its finest. Although these people have close to nothing, they are still able to connect to the world outside of the mountains through the satellite, getting the news, tv shows, and culture of what many would call "the modern world". Seeing this connection to the "modern world" made me wonder if the people in this small village ever regretted leaving the small village to go to the larger cities. I asked Luis, and he told me that when people leave the village, they almost never come back. I think that a part of the reason they leave the village is because they see what else is out there, through this satellite, their window to the outside world.

Travis De Wolfe

Travis De Wolfe

The Gold Van
Spicy Cows
Michel intrigued by the story of the sugar mill and how the molasses polluted the river.
The Gold Van - Despite the heat, broken rear-view mirror, broken speedometer, broken A/C vent, holes in the floor, a cracked windshield, and leaky tires, the gold van still made it home every night.
This meat doesn't need to be marinated, it’s already spicy!

Crystal Retzlaff

Crystal Retzlaff

PROLEA Calf Barn
Tomato Greenhouse
Native Corn
PROLEA Calf Barn - I have never seen a calf barn with tiny metal pens on stilts so that their manure would run down a cement slope. Supposedly it is like veal barns, but I have never seen a veal barn. I felt bad for the comfort of the calf.
Tomato Greenhouse - I was completely flabergasted by the amount of tomatoes that can and are produced in a greenhouse and how they are grown. Using the string for the tomatoes to attach to and climb up is genious.
Native Corn - I was very amazed how the “corn” grows back every year but is not like our common corn today. Rather it grows from a rhizome I believe and produces smaller corn.

Jessica Cady-Bartholomew

Jessica Cady-Bartholomew

Friends: Sara, Travis, Me - While we learned a lot on the trip, it was also nice to have such fun people (tios, cougars, and Darbsters) to enjoy each day with. Hey, Gold Van: You guys are amazing for putting up with us everyday! The whole group kept a really positive attitude and this helped to enhance the study tour experience.
Family: Sara, Heriberto, Me - I met many great people in Mexico this summer, but Heriberto & his family were the best! Sara and I had so much fun spending the weekend with them that we didn't want to leave! I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Project - Kathryn and I went into this project with a strong idea of what we wanted to bring into her class, but we had yet to find a really motivating platform. Our trip through the watershed and biosphere offered so much motivation for this project. I want beautiful places like this to exist forever and I want the students in Kathryn's class to understand that positively impacting the environment is a goal well within reach.

Emily Treu

Emily Treu

Darby Brown

Darby Brown


Saturday, Aug. 16th

PM Flying to Mexico

Luckily most of us were on the same flight to Mexico which took us from Chicago to Dallas/Ft. Worth to Guadalajara, Mexico. These photos are of some of the sights we saw outside of the plane while in the air.

Sunday, Aug. 17th

AM Tour of Guadalajara

After a great breakfast at the hotel and meeting our Mexican traveling companions, we all took a walking tour of historic Guadalajara. While the professors went off to meet, the students visited the Instituto Cultural Cabañas Museum which houses the murals of Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949). Then we visited the Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno). Even though it was Sunday the group went shopping at the Guadalajara Marketplace, San Juan de Dios, to pick up souvenirs and see the 4 floors of food, handicrafts, and many more items.

PM Travel to Autlan

We piled into our vans and started for our first leg of our trip to the city of Autlan. Autlan is west of Guadalajara, nearing the coast of the Pacific Ocean. We lunched on the road at a local restaurant, during which we were serenaded by a mariachi group, and when we arrived, we took a visit to the center square of Autlan to eat supper. We stayed the night in Autlan at a hotel with a pool, which everyone took advantage of. In celebration of the Olympics, we hosted our own "mini" Olympics competition and this was became a recurring activity at each of the hotels which had a pool.

Monday, Aug. 18th

AM Rio Ayuquila Project

In the morning, we met with Luis Martinez who took us on a tour of the Rio Ayuquila Environmental Conservation Project, in which the communities of Autlan and El Grullo (small town 10 minutes from Autlan) were involved. On the tour we saw and learned about all the different aspects of this project, from the river's main pollution "source", the local sugar cane factory, to the diverse uses of the river itself. We followed the river along its course to see for ourselves the major impacts of a polluted river. On our way up a particularly steep "mountain" and with the sun blasting down upon us, our gold van - as it came to be referred to - decided it couldn't take the heat and conked out on us. For those of us unlucky enough to ride in it, this meant the rest of the day without any air conditioning of any kind, as all of its windows - with the exception of the driver's and front passenger's - did not open. As the passengers in the other car (a cooperative SUV) did have lots of air conditioning, the breakdown of the van's cooling system led to some unsuccessful coercing and bargaining with the SUV group to change cars. He also took us to the recycling center for both towns where they collect plastic bottles, cans, and paper products to be recycled at a different site. This recycling effort was a side project that developed out of an awareness for the conservation of the river. To get more information on this successful grassroots conservation effort, check out the Ayuquila River e-Case Study webpage. This webpage is a great source to learn about the river in an interactive online case study.

PM Comunidad de Zenzontla

Luis then took the group to visit an indigenous village living and working on the banks of the Ayuquila River, and who were impacted by the sugar mill's pollution event. These villagers were primarily small meat and milk producers, producing for themselves, but there was also some greenhouse plant production. The women in the village worked in a cooperative to earn extra money by harvesting and grinding coffee to sell. These women were very proud of their cooperative, being that it was exclusively an enterprise for women and they had been very successful at it. Most of the tour participants decided to assist the cooperative by buying coffee for themselves and family members. After a tour of the village, we returned to the hotel for some much needed cleaning up (remember those poor sweaty and dirty souls in the van) and downtime. We even convinced all the professors to join us in our mock Olympics swimming events where we were introduced to their competitive nature. They made an excellent showing against the students and even took home top prizes in some events.

Tuesday, Aug. 19th

AM Biosfera Sierra de Manantlan

The morning found us all very excited because we were to spend the day at the Biosphere Reserve (Biosfera Sierra de Manantlan, the Las Joyas Estacion Cientifica). This visit promised lots of nature-communing and photo opportunities. There are 2 areas that make up the Biosphere Reserve: the innermost, which is the most protected, and the outermost area, where human impact and agricultural activity is allowed but limited. We were to visit the innermost area today and see the research station in which local researchers studied and classified native flora and fauna. Our guides told us that our van wouldn't be able to make it up the steep and rocky path that led up to the station, so a lucky few of us got to ride in the back of a pickup truck. This new development in our mode of transportation left our leader, Michel, a little worried since after all he was responsible for our safety. After reassuring him that we would indeed hold on and not fall out of the truck, we got underway. It took over an hour and a half to travel up the side of the mountain to the station. We periodically stopped along the way to learn more about the station, the biosphere, and the research being done there. For those of us in the back of the truck, it was a thrilling and fun ride to the station. At the station we were taken on a tour of the facilities and given a brief introduction. Then we proceeded on a tour of the inner biosphere. Besides some amazing flora and fauna, we also saw the cousin of contemporary maize growing wild in the reserve. After the 2 hour tour of the Biosphere, we were invited for lunch and a presentation. The presentation related the history of the reserve and what kinds of research activities are currently going on. In order to make it back to the hotel at a reasonable hour, we thanked our guests and prepared for our long trek down the mountain.

PM Rio Ayuquila Project Presentations

Luis, who had gone with us on the tour of the Biosphere, told us that he had organized a series of presentations for our group by some of the participants in the Rio Ayuquila project. Luckily, the CUSUR campus (local satellite campus to the University of Guadalajara) where the presentations were to be held is right across the street from our hotel. Luis had promised to show us the video the organizers had made about the project and is available to watch on the project's website (Ayuquila River e-Case Study webpage). We then heard a presentation by another of the organizers whose role was specifically to work with local communities on recycling. One of the more interesting tools they used to teach people about recycling and the benefits of protecting their environment was through song. Because many of the poorer communities had lower rates of literacy, in using songs to spread their message, they were able to reach across age groups and class. They also found that children were more likely to take up and encourage the practice of recycling in their own families, so the organizers focused on teaching schools and teachers about recycling.

Wednesday, Aug. 20th

AM Greenhouse Tomato Production

The following day we continued on our trek west towards the ocean. And since we were promised that we'd reach the ocean around supper time today, everyone in the group was excited for the opportunity to spend a good 3 hours at least on the beach. One of our first stops in the morning after leaving Autlan was to stop at 2 greenhouse tomato farms. These were amazing facilities and the producers were harvesting impressive yields from their greenhouses. Each greenhouse sat on 1-2 acres and the tomatoes were placed so their vines grew upwards along a wire in order to keep the fruit from rotting on the ground. The producers told us that most of the tomatoes they grow end up in the U.S.!

PM Tropical Dual Purpose Farm

After leaving the tomato farm, we started towards the coast. Before leaving the hotel this morning, the professors decided to put all of our luggage that we stuffed into the van on the rack on top of the van. This way there would be more room for those of us in the van. We were concerned about this because we didn't want our luggage to get wet if it rained and we didn't necessarily need anymore space. But our professors assured us that it would not rain that day and all would be well. Once we left the greenhouses and were halfway to our next destination, it started raining. Then it poured. Many in the van compared the storm to a monsoon. Everyone's luggage except for a few lucky people was on top of the van, now soaked through. A few people got mad, most just couldn't stop joking about the ironic circumstances. We arrived to the dual-purpose farm in Tecoman, less than 2 hours from the coast, in rain. We were already running a bit late by then and with the knowledge that the luggage was wet, most of us weren't in any kind of spirit to enjoy the visit. But true to form, we all made the best of the situation and showed interest in what we were hearing and seeing. While we were listening to the producer telling us about his operation, one of our professors went to the van and began hauling wet luggage down from the luggage rack and placing it inside of the van. We all thought it was a little too late for this as the bags looked pretty-well soaked. After the bags were stowed away and the presentation was done, the producer invited us to enjoy some fresh coconuts. This brightened everyone, as a few of us had been waiting anxiously to have the chance to drink some coconut milk. Once each of us was presented with a freshly opened coconut, the picture-taking began since everyone wanted to have their picture taken drinking from a coconut. Because of the rain we weren't able to see much of the farm, just the facilities and a few rain-soaked calves in a pen. When it was time to leave, our generous hosts, realizing how much we enjoyed the coconuts, offered some for us to take. They ended up filling our van with 15 coconuts! They offered that since they grow wild around the farm and are practically free, it was no problem for us to take so many with us. We all knew there was no way we'd be allowed across the border with coconuts in our luggage and we didn't want to argue with the producer's hospitality, we decided amongst ourselves to give the coconuts out as presents to every other site we visited!

Night The Pacific Ocean

We finally made it to the ocean! We were a little later in getting there than as planned, but the students immediately made use of the time we had by proceeding to change as fast as they could and entering the ocean just as soon as we made it to the hotel. After a great supper at a local restaurant and the fact that it was now dark, we all retreated into the ocean-side pool for some more Olympic-style games, which lasted late into the night.

Keywordsfield study 2008   Doc ID56685
OwnerAntonio A.GroupDS 473 Field Study Abroad
Created2015-09-23 22:17:39Updated2015-09-23 22:36:53
SitesDS 473 Field Study Abroad
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