Belize (2015-2016)

Rio Bravo CMA, Orange Walk District 


McMaster Fellow

Mary Ann Studer, Dean, McMaster School for Advancing Humanity – The research components of this project include:

(1) Agricultural Soil Monitoring: Continue to work with indigenous and Mennonite agricultural communities on the periphery of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area;

(2) Sustainable Forestry Support: Determine soil compaction levels at logged sites within the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area in support of Programme for Belize’s sustainable forestry and continued SmartWood certification by the Rainforest Alliance; develop and assess the validity of correlations between canopy cover and compaction within the Rio Bravo;

(3) New River Lagoon Sub-surface Nitrate Assay: Continued analysis of nitrate levels for water at depth in the New River Lagoon – piloted in 2011-2012 to explore possible source or pattern of nitrate contaminants including specifically targeted locations including feeder spring sources and tributaries that drain marshlands into the New River Lagoon to explore possible source or pattern of nitrate contaminants;

(4) Exploring the Potential for Implementation of the Rural Education in Agriculture Program (REAP) in the Orange Walk District: Explore the potential for primary schools in the district to implement the REAP program and develop guidelines for aligning the curriculum to agricultural practices in one school that has access to a garden and greenhouse.

McMaster Associate Fellow 

Rena Rager, Administrative Assistant, McMaster School for Advancing Humanity  At the request of several villages and communities Rena will be presenting information and methods to conduct breast self-examinations. She will be providing women in the villages with information and personal testimony on the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

McMaster Scholars

Ashlyn Deming, Sophomore, Middle Childhood Education: Mathematics and Language Arts – The purpose of this project is to improve the functional literacy among children for whom English is not their first language by implementing a pen-pal project. As part of this project teachers will provided with information and training on the implementation of effective teaching strategies for a multiage classroom, such as flexible grouping.

Madeline Homan, Sophomore, Molecular Biology – The purpose of this project is to continue the ongoing water quality analysis of the environmental and potable water of the village sites in Belize as well as in the New River Lagoon. The tests that will be performed will analyze the bacterial contaminants, nitrate nitrogen, phosphorous, dissolved oxygen, pH, and ammonia levels. These tests will contribute to the baseline data that has been ongoing for a decade by the previous McMaster Scholars.

Brittany Pease, Senior, Athletic Training – This project include training for villages, foresters, and rangers in CPR, first aid, and water safety that has been ongoing in the very rural village of San Carlos over the past seven years. In addition, I will be conducting geriatric exercise training at the request of the village of Rancho Delores that is home to an elderly majority population.

Joseph Braden Perry, Senior, Early Childhood Education – The purpose of this project is to supply educational resources for teachers, students and parents of the Rancho Dolores community. I will be bringing E-readers to their school, training students on the use of them, and providing the teachers with ways they can be used in the classroom, giving them access to books that are important in developing a child’s reading skills. I will also be offering workshops to the mothers of the villages to provide them with knowledge and resources that can help their child if they are struggling to reach developmental milestones. While in Belize, I will also be doing a comparative analysis of the school in Rancho Dolores and of San Carlos, with the current standards, and look at the current level of academic achievement in each school.

Zachary Roush, Junior, Digital Forensic Science – The purpose of this project is to educate the women of Rancho Dolores on basic computer functions and operations. A second component of this project will be to assist both the villages of Rancho Dolores and San Carlos on the documentation of their culture and heritage by providing information about making a family tree, by providing family photographs, music history documentation, and a family history survey.