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Tuesday, June 18 2019 @ 12:46 AM UTC

Students to spotlight trip to Panama

Groups & OrganizationsNEWBURYPORT — Taking River Valley Charter School's commitment to community service one step farther, four families from the school community traveled to Panama last month to participate in a service program with Sustainable Harvest International. In the rural village of San Pedro, they worked alongside local farmers and villagers clearing farmland, planting a rice paddy and building a wood-burning stove. They also visited the school, where they discussed the migratory birds both countries share and distributed books and supplies.

Sustainable Harvest International works in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama to provide farming families with training and tools to preserve tropical forests while overcoming poverty. The organization schedules Smaller World Tours to connect families in a cross-cultural work experience on the front lines of environmental protection and rural community development.

"I am eager to share our experience with students," said Colin Gibney, River Valley Charter Middle School math teacher. "We are focused on learning to change our impact on the environment by minimizing motorized transportation, not buying unnecessary items, learning to grow and eat local produce, unplugging and reconnecting with each other.

"This is exactly how the people live in San Pedro. Many of the kids I teach see hope and believe that we can change the way things are. The trip to San Pedro has inspired me anew to support students in implementing that change."

The six students who participated in the trip — August and Lydia Umholz, Alexa Looker, Eric Ryan, and Luke and Cam Gibney — will share their experiences through photos and stories tomorrow at 7 p.m. at River Valley Charter School, 2 Perry Way. The event is open to the public.

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