Belize Project, 2009-2010


Mary Ann Studer, Faculty, Physical Science - This project continues the work with Programme for Belize and the agricultural villages on the periphery of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area in Belize. This year the work will focus on continuing the work with indigenous and Mennonite subsistence farmers in the area of soil nutrient testing with the aim of improving farming methods and developing more sustainable agriculture. Project will asses soil compaction levels in the agricultural fields on the periphery and at logged sites within the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area to provide information relative to the emergence of crops and rainforest fauna at these disturbed sites. And finally, project will develop guidelines for forming interdisciplinary learning communities using the Belize Learning Community as a model to provide to junior colleges in Belize.


Ken Adair, Faculty, Chemistry - This project is focused on providing support to the learning community and scholars through logistical support. Professor Adair's experience will be widely useful to projects focused on water and soil testing and he is interested in potentially tying these projects back into local Defiance area projects for comparison.

Mariah Orzolek, Staff, Director of Residence Life - This project is focused on providing support to the Learning Community in the form of logistical help. In addition the project will assess the feasibility of building housing for teachers in the village of San Carlos.


Brian Badenhop, Junior, Integrated Mathematics - This project will work with the San Carlos Government School and St. Paul's Bank Roman Catholic School to improve the access technology for these schools. The project will research the value of calculator use and training in the classroom and assess the current curriculum at the schools to find where new calculator curriculum can best be added. The student will raise the funds to provide calculators for the schools and compile/develop curriculum for their effective use as teaching tools. Finally, math and science equipment needs at the schools will be assessed for future projects.

Brittany Heaton, Sophomore, Forensic Science - This project will test for pesticides Atrazine and Simazine in the New River Lagoon and its tributaries. This testing will provide a follow up on previous testing completed. Results will be compiled into a report for Programme for Belize and will contribute to the ongoing monitoring of water quality in the region.

Joshua Hegemier, Junior, Molecular Biology - This project will continue the ongoing water quality testing in the New River Lagoon and its tributaries and in drinking water wells and cisterns in the area. All water will be tested for levels of nitrates, ammonia, phosphates, phosphorous, dissolved oxygen and chlorine. The ongoing monitoring ensures the safety of the drinking water and checks levels in the Lagoon to monitor environmental changes and risks.

Samantha Higdon, Senior, Accounting/Economics - This project is focused on using a series of newsletters as a form of social networking to develop stronger relationships between the team and the community in Belize and between the team and donors to various projects. The series will include an introduction to the team, updates on project progress prior to departure, updates on experiences during travel and work in Belize, and ongoing information about final projects and potential for new projects next year.

Ashton Judis, Senior, Communications and Marketing - This project focuses on providing instruction in CPR, Heimlich, First Aid and water safety techniques to the communities of San Carlos, St. Paul's Bank, Lemonal and Hillbank Research Station. This project is a follow-up to a similar project performed last year and has been requested by the community again. Project will focus on developing techniques to communicate effectively across culture and language in order to provide this potentially life-saving skill to as many as possible.

Greg McNutt, Junior, Biology - This project will continue an ongoing assessment of insect destruction of agricultural crops on the periphery of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. In addition to assessing which insects are harming crops the project will aim to introduce remediation through the use of biological controls rather than pesticides. Biological controls can reduce input costs to the farmer, potentially increasing his income and benefitting the environment.

Jocelyn Tingley, Sophomore, Middle Childhood Education - This project focuses on promoting parental involvement in the San Carlos Government School. Through research, interviews with teachers and parents on site, and training provided while in Belize parents can have a more active role in education in this small indigenous village.