The Uvita Youth Outdoors University for Leadership, Environment, and self-Awareness Development program (YOU- LEAD) will provide programming support for the existing SOMOS leadership program for adolescent youth in Uvita, and Cortes, Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast.

Teams from the University of Iowa will support the development of enrichment programming in consultation with program coordinators in Costa Rica that align with the goals and needs of the program. Specifically, University of Iowa faculty and students will support programming in the areas of English as a Second Language, Spanish/English Language for Business, Art Education, Environmental/Outdoors Education, Entrepreneurship, Social and Emotional Learning in Cross Cultural Contexts, and Leadership development through the existing January and July programs in the towns of Uvita and Cortes, Costa Rica (on the Pacific coast).

Participants in January of 2023 will participate in a four-day environmental, sustainability studies program in the Sarapiqui River Valley. Programming will include visits to a coffee farm, several nature reserves, to explore and learn about natural ecosystems in the rainforest. From there the group will begin the voyage to the Pacific coast with a stop in the Talamanca Range to explore one of the rarest and most fragile ecosystems in the world, the cloud forests of Costa Rica. Explore an area of biodiversity smaller than the State of Iowa, that is said to harbor 5% of the world’s known living species of plants and animals. We will visit Braulio Carrillo National Park and overnight at Las Vueltas Ecolodge, a rare and special lodge up in the clouds. We will then depart to the Pacific coast where our work with the adolescents in the YOULEAD program will begin. On the Pacific Coast we’ll spend our mornings engaging youth in interactive language-based activities to help them explore identity, career development, and environmental and sustainable business themes. Our afternoons will include a cultural studies program and time at the beach learning about sustainable ecotourism. At the end of the week, we’ll travel back to San José in preparation for our return flight home.

Our adolescent participants in Costa Rica will benefit from the opportunity to learn and practice skills in English and other content areas while also developing skills in cross-cultural communication while working with University of Iowa students and faculty. University of Iowa faculty and students will benefit from this program through opportunities to engage in research and skill development in the areas of teaching, working with youth and adolescents, and engaging in global education programming.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1

Travel by charter bus to Chicago O’Hare

Depart to San José, travel through Panama City

Check into Hotel, Dinner on own

Team Meeting

Day 2

Depart to Sarapiqui River Valley

Tour at Finca Alsacia by Starbucks (Sustainable Coffee Farming)

Lunch at Fredo Fresas

Visit Cinchona Park to see waterfall and famous hummingbirds

Check into hotel

Dinner

Team Meeting

Day 3

Breakfast at Hotel

Rainforest Tour at Tirimbina Rainforest Center

Lunch at Soda Mariel

River/watershed tour Sarapiqui River; Watershed management tour

Dinner at Hotel

Night Hike in Rainforest

Team Meeting

Day 4

Breakfast at Hotel

Depart to Talamanca Mountain Range

Visit at Braulio Carrillo National Park

Lunch at El Empalme

Travel to Las Vueltas Lodge

Afternoon hike in the cloud forest

Dinner

Team Meeting

Day 5

Early morning farm chores

Breakfast

Hike in the Cloud Forest

Lunch at Las Vueltas

Departure to Uvita (Pacific Coast)

Team Meeting to Prep for YOULEAD

Day 6

Breakfast
Morning YOULEAD programming

Lunch

Afternoon SELAL Cultural Programming

Day 7

Breakfast

Morning YOULEAD programming

Lunch

Afternoon Beach Visit

Dinner

Team Meeting

Day 8

Breakfast

Morning YOULEAD programming

Lunch

Afternoon Visit to Boruca Family Tribe and Cultural Festival

Dinner

Team Meeting

Day 9

Breakfast

Morning YOULEAD programming

Lunch

Afternoon Cultural Programming

Dinner

Team Meeting

Day 10

Breakfast

Morning YOULEAD programming

Lunch

Depart for San José

Farewell Dinner

Day 11

Breakfast

Transfer to Airport

Flight to Chicago

Charter bus to Iowa City

Generous scholarship funding will be used to support student travel on this trip.