Cobb School enjoys rain forest

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Students at Cobb School enjoy presentation on rain forest

By Maureen Carson Scudder

On the morning of May 19, elementary students at The Cobb School, Montessori in Simsbury were the lucky listeners to a riveting presentation by Krista Karlson, a college student from Granby.

After graduating from Granby Memorial High School in 2013, Krista told her audience, she needed a break from traditional education. She was eager to get out of the classroom and get into nature. “I was looking for an adventure,” she said. Krista deferred her admission to Middlebury College for a semester and travelled to the Manu Learning Centre of Peru, part of an 18,000-square-foot biosphere reserve in the southwest corner of the Amazon basin. There she began her fieldwork in biodiversity, conservation, environmental studies, and survival.

When Cobb School student Yash Ramchandani asked, “What inspired you to go to Peru?” Krista explained how she had spent two weeks in Honduras as a high school student and afterwards wanted another, more intense adventure. She said, “I wanted to know what it was like to live in a very remote area.”

During her presentation, Krista explained the complexities of conservation: how the locals need to cut trees for materials and space, but at the same time, need to protect the rain forest and all it provides for the earth. She wowed the students with stories from the jungle: her run-in with a deadly bushmaster, a swamped taxi ride, bee stings, ant bites, altitude sickness, children wielding machetes, and a puma slinking through the night. She discussed her projects such as monitoring monkey populations, building a hide, luring butterflies for research, and her experience amongst the wildlife of the rain forest, including macaws, toucans, rainbow boas, and more. All the while, Krista tested her limits. She hiked far, climbed high, and proved to herself that she was made of good stuff.

After the presentation a handful of students gathered round Krista, asking her follow-up questions (mostly about snakes!), and the staff waxed on about her gifts as a presenter and teacher. Krista knew exactly the stories to tell, the questions to ask, and the answers to give. Clearly she was a natural, and everyone in the audience felt very lucky to have her as their honored guest.