University News

WIU Students Take On Costa Rica

June 6, 2024

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MACOMB, IL - - A unique collaborative effort between Western Illinois University's School of Management and Marketing and the School of Agriculture formed an international educational experience for students. From May 13-22, a group of 14 students, accompanied by Assistant Professor Susan Creasey and Associate Instructor Jana Knupp, traveled to Costa Rica, gaining insights into local business practices, agricultural methods and cultural traditions.

This immersive trip provided students with diverse learning opportunities. They visited a pineapple and flower farm, where they learned about sustainable farming techniques and the intricacies of international agriculture. At a cacao farm, the group explored the process of chocolate-making, from bean to bar, and experienced the flavors of freshly made chocolate.

The students also toured a women-owned coffee farm, where they gained insights into the coffee production process and the role of women in Costa Rica's coffee industry. A highlight of the visit was a discussion with a representative from the Costa Rica Tourism Institute, offering students an understanding of the tourism sector's impact on the country's economy and culture.

"WIU provided me with the once in a lifetime opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica," Senior Agriculture Student Tyler Barrington said. "To start, the faculty made the trip planning process a breeze! Once we arrived in Costa Rica, we were able to see many farms, rain forests, and wildlife and had the opportunity to learn more about the agriculture and businesses of Costa Rica. We attended all these tours while making lifelong memories with the other students. The students that attended got very close throughout the trip. Lastly, the amazing faculty that led us did a great job navigating obstacles that were out of our control while ensuring the students were learning and enjoying the trip."

The adventure extended to the La Selva Biological Research Station, a renowned research facility in the Costa Rican rainforest. Here, students stayed overnight and explored the vast biodiversity, including 2,080 plant varieties, 420 tree species and 467 bird species, providing them with environmental conservation and biological research.

"Spending time in Costa Rica was a transformative experience that broadened my horizons both academically and personally," Senior Agriculture Student Cody Cornell said. "The vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality provided a rich backdrop for learning and growth, making it an unforgettable chapter in my university journey. I recommend all students consider taking this great journey in their life!"

For more information about this trip or to inquire about future study-abroad opportunities, contact Creasey at or Knupp at For more information on studying abroad, visit, or contact Global Studies Academic Advisor Kim McDaniel.

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