Quick Contact

Ronald Porter
Director of Service-Learning

Eckerd College
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711


toll-free: 800-456-9009
local: 727-864-7512


Service Learning

Costa Rica: Spring Break 08

Costa Rica

View photos from Costa Rica

Traveling to Santa Elena, Costa Rica and doing trail work in the gorgeous Santa Elena Bosque Nuboso (Cloud Forest) was for many of us a transformative experience: some learned how we have grown very used to our creature comforts in the U.S., some learned that we love everything about Costa Rica and will return, some learned about our physical and mental limits, some began to understand the incredible openness that arises when we encounter something new. All of us learned about the rewards and challenges of service.

Most of our time was spent in the cloud forest doing trail maintenance. Carrying sand up trails was both exhausting and rewarding. As we lugged up load after load, we began to see the physical results of working together; while each load of sand was quite small, with twelve of us (plus two or three other volunteers) all working toward the same goal, we could see that we were making a difference on the trails. This, in turn, would help the community of Santa Elena, including the high school, for the cloud forest reserve works in tandem with the community: the community is committed to maintaining the pristine reserve, and the money made at the reserve feeds back into the community. It's a beautiful evocation of the interconnectedness of all things.

Our last day was spent at the high school digging holes (for trees to be planted later) and painting. For many, the tangible results of these activities made this day immensely rewarding. On our time off, we sailed over and through the canopy on zip-lines and visited the gorgeous San Luis waterfall.

All of these experiences were balanced by the time we spent with native Costa Ricans in their homes. For many, these homestays were the most meaningful and profound encounters we had with the culture and people of Costa Rica. Eating galla pinto (sometimes three times a day!) with families, milking goats, touring coffee farms, entertaining babies, and playing cards with 8-year-olds gave us experiences deeper than those we'd have had as tourists.

All of these encounters gave us a sense of connectedness to Costa Rica -- and taught us why so many Costa Ricans answer the question, "¿Como esta?" with an excited "¡Pura Vida!"

View photos from Costa Rica

Calls for Participation

Academy Prep

Volunteer with Academy Prep

Academy Prep is a unique private middle school program serving 5th through 8th grade students in a low-income area. Students must qualify for need-based scholarships to attend and must have a desire to succeed in a rigorous academic environment. Academy Prep works with students to prepare them for higher education, maintaining relationships with graduates through high school, college, and into their adult lives.

YMCA Reads

Volunteer Mentors Needed

YMCA Reads! is an after-school reading assistance and mentoring program providing opportunities for at-risk and low-income children in kindergarten through third grade to develop the reading skills they need to succeed in school.

Community Action Stops Abuse

Community Action Stops Abuse

It takes a whole community to stop domestic violence. CASA's vision is a community without domestic violence so that home is a safe place.

Edible Peach Patch Project

The Edible Peace Patch Project

The Edible Peace Patch Project is a not for profit organization whose mission is to eliminate poverty as a factor in educational success and diet-related health issues.

Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Tampa Bay Estuary Program

The mission of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program is to build partnerships to restore and protect Tampa Bay through implementation of a scientifically sound, community-based management plan.