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explore: EARTH University
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explore: EARTH University
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Drawing students from around the world, EARTH University in Costa Rica teaches future leaders how to implement agricultural techniques that drive economic progress while respecting and preserving resources. Its mission is to promote sustainable development and eco-sensitive agriculture in the developing world.

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Segment 1

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explore
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Costa Rica
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN [Founder, explore]
In the heart of Costa Rica is EARTH University, one of the most unique campuses I've ever visited.
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EARTH University, Guacimo, Limón, Costa Rica
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
EARTH stands for Escuela de Agricultura para la Región Tropical Húmeda or, for those who don't speak Spanish, the School of Agriculture for the Region of the Humid Tropics. EARTH is a private, non-profit university, offering an education in agricultural sciences and natural resources. Its goal is to contribute to sustainable development in humid tropics. EARTH's curriculum is based on four pillars: social commitment, environmental awareness, an entrepreneurial mentality, and the development of human values. Sustainability is achieved when balancing these four ideals. Each year, EARTH selects 100 students from Latin America, Spain, and Uganda. EARTH's students are motivated to make a difference in their own countries and, consequently, the world, through social and economic development. We met with a few students from EARTH University.
GLADYS ANDIRU [student, EARTH University]
This is really a university where one changes a lot in the course of the four years.
FELIPE BERMUDEZ [student, EARTH University]
You can find people from almost everywhere in Latin America, and also from Uganda, and United States, Europe.
JULIUS MBUGA [student, EARTH University]
My first impressions about this university is that they are very practical.
GLADYS ANDIRU
We also, we've developed so much, we love to get our hands on the work. Like, some of us, I think, we're interested ... we'd feel very uncomfortable to just sit there in the office, you know, managing things. Me, I have these guts and this zeal to work with the people.
JULIUS MBUGA
I thought that they gave more practice to students and I looked at that as an opportunity to learn, very well, agriculture skills.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
EARTH seeks to nurture a new generation of agricultural leaders with an emphasis on environmental and social conscience. Probably the most fun part of my job is finding young leaders. Today, I met Juan Pinto, our guide, who'd walk us through the rainforest. Juan wants to become a conservationist and promote eco-tourism in his native country of Costa Rica.
JUAN PINTO [student, EARTH University]
Even before I started at EARTH, I was very interested in biology and wildlife. And what better place than EARTH, with 2,500 acres of protected forest, to study all of this. This tree is called Naked Indian, and it has several medicinal uses. And at EARTH, they are using it in a chemical compound with the aim of finding a cure for Chagas disease.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Juan is a future leader. You can feel his passion, especially when he talks about conservation.
JUAN PINTO
Yes, wildlife is the most interesting to me: the conservation and protection of wildlife. That's why I'm at EARTH: not to become an agronomist, but I think the skills I learn at EARTH will help me to integrate conservation with community development. Because many biologists know what the problems are, but not the causes.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
After graduation, he will dedicate his life to an eco-tourism project that integrates conservation, education, and community development.
JUAN PINTO
I am going to dedicate my life to conservation, definitely. And I am sure that having all of this knowledge will really help me to be able to connect with people. Without people, you will never have successful conservation.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
EARTH teaches students how to farm in a way that is in harmony with nature. My favorite project at EARTH University was the Animal Compassion Project. What is today's current practice and what does EARTH University do that distinguishes that practice?
DR. RICHARD TAYLOR [EARTH University]
Okay, current practice is that everybody yells, uses sticks, uses electrical probes to move animals. We are trying to teach the people to understand the animal, rather than to try to force him to do something that he doesn't want to do. You should have been here nine years ago. You couldn't open your mouth. Flies would go into your mouth. I mean, we were desperate with the problem of flies. For that, we can use EM, which is effective micro-organisms. Well, this is what decomposes the wood, everything that falls from the tropical rainforest. We spray this on the floor. What we do is we put a layer of about two inches of sawdust and then we let the cows come in for a month and they accumulate the manure there on top of the sawdust. And so, these micro-organisms go and act directly on the organic matter and they transform that organic matter. This process actually avoids having the composition of the organic matter. You don't have smell. If you don't have smell, you have fewer flies coming in. This solved the problem 100 percent. It doesn't smell like manure. Smell it.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
It looks like brownie mix.
DR. RICHARD TAYLOR
It looks like dirt, like soil, black soil.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
What an experience: the Animal Compassion Project. So, here I am, sitting on a two-ton bull. This bull was more docile than my golden retriever, and I just laid on him and took a siesta. The students at EARTH are aware that one of the great challenges in the world today is the preservation of the rainforest, with the balance of agricultural development. The sustainable farming practices taught by EARTH support entrepreneurship and eco-sensitive agriculture in the developing world. I was introduced to EARTH University through a friend of mine named Michael, who was one of the original founders of Whole Foods. During our visit, we learned about the unique partnership between EARTH University and Whole Foods Market in the U.S. Many students plan to start their own businesses, creating jobs for people in their native countries.
GLADYS ANDIRU
I am not alone on this Earth. I have to help the people who are down here. I have to help my people so that they become better. Because here, we learn that things are done in a group. As one person, you cannot really stand. You need the others to be around you, to be able to make a better world.
FELIPE BERMUDEZ
To be successful with the people who are around you.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Part of the agreement is that after graduation, the students will go home and make a difference in their own communities.
GLADYS ANDIRU
That's why some of us we are thinking, okay, there are very few jobs. Instead of scrambling for those few jobs, we should go out and then you create more jobs where many people can benefit, even the poor because the idea is to treat them well.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
And that's what makes EARTH University so unique: it's that not only do students learn agricultural practices, but they have to develop their own business plan.
GLADYS ANDIRU
I want to set up a business back home. The idea is to do three months post-internship in South America -- that would be, like, in a rose farm, where I could learn about the production. Then, I move to the U.S. where I can learn about the business part. Then I go to Holland where I can learn the market.
FELIPE BERMUDEZ
For the next five years, I would like to study ... to keep studying and working. That could be a very good option. And then, probably after five, seven years, I would like to start my own business.
JULIUS MBUGA
Right after graduation, I'm going to work with a conservation organization.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
So upon graduation, they have a dream in their hand to go back to their respective countries and they now try to implement it.
GLADYS ANDIRU
EARTH University is a place where dreams come true.
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With the support of the Annenberg Foundation, explore has made funding possible to: EARTH University. To learn more: www.earth.ac.cr
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explore.org