RADFORD, Va. – Trevor Tidwell's first trip out of the country is one he'll never forget. Tidwell is a senior at Radford University and was one of 10 lucky students and two professors to travel to the Amazon rainforest for the three-week long Radford Amazonion Research Expedition (RARE) in Peru.
"It's an amazing experience," Tidwell said.
Students ranged in age and majors. They all had individualized research projects from disability accommodations to climate change to studying native people and culture.
Tidwellis a physics major. He built equipment to evaluate differences in climate between heavily forested areas and ones that had been cut down.
"It was roughly 7 to 10 degrees on average Fahrenheit warmer than those areas that were forested and there was I think up to 30% humidity drop in those areas," Tidwell said. "It's really opened my eyes to the effects of climate change."
Drew Myers has dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since she was 6 years old. Her research compared wildlife rehabilitation to veterinary practices in the U.S.
"Traveling veterinary medicine from up here would be a really cool idea to take down there," Myers said.
The unique study abroad experience focused on conservation and sustainability.
"It's this next generation that has to be ready to address those thorny conversations with people to be able to solve some of these problems," said Jean Mistele, an associate professor of mathematics and statistics. "It's a broadening experience both academically, personally and globally."
The goal is to broaden students' views and open their eyes to how they can have a global impact.
"You need to think about how you can impact veterinarian medicine worldwide," Myers said.
"It can really, like push them forward in their education and what they want to do in life," Tidwell said.