Welcome to the Jungle

The Makengue Project

This spring break I had the chance to spend a week in Nicaragua! The trip was through my school, American University, as an Alternative Break program. Specifically, I was a part of a class of 12 that met every Wednesday all semester, preparing for the trip. We were traveling to a small plot of land called the Makengue Reserve.

The Makengue Reserve is located less than 10 miles from the Costa Rican border in the south of the country, off of the Rio San Juan. To get there from DC, we took two planes, a five hour bus ride, and two boat rides. In less than 48 hours we traveled from the capital of one of the most advanced countries on earth to the heart of the rainforest and jungle. The nearest doctor was hours away, we had no cell or internet service, and were surrounded by all manner of dangerous plants and animals.

I loved it. Here’s what I would wake up to:

The Makengue Reserve was hosting AU students to work on The Makengue Project. This was an interdisciplinary project with the goal of using Makengue’s resources while at the same time setting up a plan for its future. The 12 of us in the class had the amazing opportunity of nearly complete free reign to choose what we wanted to work on.

We ended up breaking into three main groups: science, communications, and business/marketing, although we all helped each other out with their specific goals. I was part of the marketing and business group, who’s goal was to help ensure the future of Makengue. We did this through the creation of a business plan, a 12-month social media plan, and a new website.

Our goal, as the marketing/business group, was to create a way for Makengue to become economically sustainable, primarily though local involvement as well as international research and study. The communications group created videos with a local youth group (Pro Joven), as well as a ten-minute documentary about the reserve. The science group recorded the local plants and animals, set up a trail camera, and carried out a bio blitz.

You can see the new website for Makengue here, which has the social media and business plans. The class also blogged about our experiences, which you can read here. A few highlights of my experience (and pictures!) are here.

After we returned, we presented our work and class at the University College symposium in April. Here I am:

Presenting at the University College symposium


Jack Struck

Student in our nation's capital, studying International Relations with a focus on the Middle East. Web designer, runner, reader, and leader.

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