Tiger Blue Goes Green News

Mark Your Calendar!

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Sweet potato harvest day at TIGUrS

Heads up, University harvesters! The TIGUrS garden crew along with garden committee members, staff, alumni and volunteers will be in the Oasis garden, located on Zach Curlin Avenue next to the fieldhouse, Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. harvesting sweet potatoes. Last season, more than two wheelbarrows were filled with the sweet, yummy spuds. The beds this year are much larger, so who knows what wonders may be unearthed! In addition, the crew and guests will be clearing spent beds and preparing many for fall and winter crops. Come join the fun. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Dr. Karyl Buddington atkbudding@memphis.edu.

Monday, October 3, 2011
Tennessee’s Electric Vehicle Project

Guest Speaker: Stephanie Cox, Stakeholder Services Area Manager - TN
ECOtality Introduction by Provost Ralph Faudree
6:00 p.m. Reception
7:00 p.m. Presentation
UC Fountain View Room

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Tiger Blue Goes Green Day

Exploring Green Transportation
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
U of M Student Plaza
Rain location: Rose Theatre
Focus on transportation, student initiatives, electric vehicles and academic offerings. President Raines welcomes attendees at 10:00 a.m.
Over 40 campus and community-wide sponsors and/or exhibitors will be on hand to demonstrate how the U of M and the community are making a difference in sustainable living.

For more information call Dr. Marian Levy, School of Public Health (901) 678-4514.

U of M students get a taste of Costa Rican sustainability practices

U of M students get a taste of Costa Rican sustainability practices

By Greg Russell

For coffee lovers, this trip would have been a real coup.

While most students were enduring red lights, traffic snarls and rush hour traffic to attend class this past summer, a group of University of Memphis students were traveling by canoe and through jungles in the small Latin American country of Costa Rica to study nutrition-based sustainability practices — even those of coffee plantations.

“It was an amazing opportunity to get a first-hand experience of the different foods of other cultures, from beautiful exotic fruits to some of the best coffee in the world,” said senior dietetic major Alyssa Dragutsky.

“I learned so much valuable information about organic farming, sustainable agriculture and natural healing practices,” said Ashley Randall, also a senior dietetics major.

The U of M group was on a two-week study abroad trip to a country known for its sustainability practices and eco-tourism. Robin Roach, an associate professor of nutrition in health and sport sciences, led the 13 students, who received three hours of course credit for the trip.

“It was textbook learning come to life,” she said. “The students have heard about sustainable ways of living and eating, but when they actually go to an organic farm and when they see how coffee is processed, they come home with a different perspective.”

Organic farming and preventive wellness practices have gained in popularity in the past decade. Organic farming reduces toxicity in the air, water and soil. From a human nutrition standpoint, organic crops can mean more antioxidants in food and lead to an overall healthier diet.

The group traveled to fishing villages, hospitals and restaurants throughout Costa Rica, including San Jose, the capital, to view various nutrition-based sustainability and wellness practices. The students also visited pineapple, banana and sugar cane plantations and took an ecological hike in Manuel Antonio National Park to identify medicinal plants and to study a naturalist approach to wellness. Local health experts provided insight into Costa Rica’s successful sustainability programs.

But the part of the trip that left the largest impression on the students was a visit to the villages of the original inhabitants of Costa Rica, the Bribri tribe.

“We had to canoe and hike to get to their remote community in Talamanca,” said Dragutsky. “We experienced their day-to-day lifestyle, while touring their land of exotic plants, fruits, vegetables and roaming animals.”

Said Randall, “At the organic farms and coffee plantations, we saw how they produce organic compost to fertilize the plants. Each farm had various methods of warding off harmful insects without the use of pesticides.”

The Bribri live mostly without electricity or running water and subside off the rain forest jungle. They are known for their knowledge of medicinal plants and sustainability. Their language and culture has largely been untouched by Western civilization.

Senior Rosalyn Knox said traveling to another country opens new doors for U.S. nutritionists and wellness experts.

“It was beneficial to experience a different culture in the way they do things because perhaps their practices can be utilized in the United States,” she said.

Dragutsky agreed.

“The emphasis in Costa Rica is eating locally grown foods, which is such a contrast to the way Americans eat,” she said. “The trip allowed us to see how diet and culture are so closely related.”

The study abroad trip also meant something more for Randall, as it often does for U of M students traveling outside the United States.

 “My experience at the village has solidified my appreciation for all that I have,” she said. “Our life here in the U.S. can seem tough and stressful, yet it really doesn’t compare to the commitment and involvement of life in the Bribri village.

“If there is one thing I learned in Costa Rica, it is that life is too precious and enjoyable to waste your time being stressed and angry. A good diet, positive attitude and knowledge of simple survival skills are all you need to fulfill a happy, healthy and memorable life.”

The students also got to visit active volcanoes, hot springs and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

The U of M’s study abroad program has expanded the past few years. It offers programs in more than 40 countries around the world with a wealth of learning experiences. Visit http://www.memphis.edu/abroad/ for more details on the study abroad program.

Contact Roach at rroach@memphis.edu for additional information on future dietetics/preventive wellness study abroad opportunities.

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