In 2005, Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the EBCI Cooperative Extension Program partnered to develop a cross-cultural eco-study program involving EARTH University in Costa Rica. To date, dozens of youth in the region, ages 14 through 17, have traveled to Costa Rica in the summer. They visit other indigenous communities, experience Earth University’s sustainable environment practices, and broaden their cultural awareness. This cross cultural sharing with other indigenous tribes allows the participating youth to develop their own cultural knowledge and awareness through individual and group cultural presentations.
At EARTH University, which hosts the students, 70% of the agricultural, food and other wastes produced are recycled. The first group of young eco-travelers came back to Cherokee committed to ramping up recycling in Western North Carolina. Their passion for the endeavor led to the creation of a regional youth recycling program that became the Go Green Team, which is closely associated with the Cherokee Youth Council.
Now the eco-study tour in Costa Rica is an annual event that is organized by the EBCI Cooperative Extension Program and supported by Cherokee Preservation Foundation.