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Belize Summer Teacher Institute Offered


SUNY Cortland is planning a sixth Summer Teacher Institute in Belize from July 9-18 to bring teachers and college education majors to that Central American country for a unique, environmental learning experience.

Since 2004, SUNY Cortland’s James M. Clark Center for International Education has arranged for five trips to visit Belize for the two-week Summer Institute in Environmental Studies and Culture. The tours have attracted a total of 53 American teachers, administrators, college faculty members and college students.

The institute offers three graduate credit hours and is open to individuals currently in teaching and administrative positions as well as those working toward their master’s degree in education or a related field.

The application deadline is Thursday, April 1, and scholarships are available. Participation is limited to 10 participants and acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information or to register for the 2010 summer institute, contact Ann Marshall at the Clark Center at (607) 753-2209. Application materials are available from the center, located in the Miller Building, Room 16.

Chaa Creek Eco Resort, an award-winning ecotourism facility near the town of San Ignacio in western Belize, hosts the institute.

Participants are offered a professional development opportunity to work together with their Belizean counterparts in a variety of hands-on experiences, active participation in field research and ongoing collaboration with individuals in the educational field.

 “You will step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and get a taste of Belizean American culture,” said Gail Tooker, director of the institute and an associate professor in the Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department at SUNY Cortland. Tooker, who has been involved with the institute program for three years, teaches science and environmental education.

This year’s institute will involve the participants in learning about the environment and culture of Western Belize and in interacting with a contingent of Belizean teachers who will also be attending, Tooker said. Participants will work with the Belizean teachers to develop teaching resources about the environment and its relationship to human culture for use in the participants’ schools in both the U.S. and Belize.

“We will visit a local Mayan village and school, make field trips to a rainforest medicinal plant trail and a Blue Morpho butterfly-raising facility,” Tooker said.

The educators and future educators will take an early morning bird walk and a “creatures of the night” hike, make nature-oriented canoe trips down the Macal River and visit a local produce market. The group will visit the Belize Zoo.

Formerly British Honduras, Belize is a small, politically stable country in Central America with English as its first language. About the size of Massachusetts and with approximately 273,000 inhabitants, Belize is sparsely populated compared to neighboring countries.

For additional information, contact Tooker at or (607) 753-5681.