Since 2006, the Toyota International Teacher Program has taken U.S. teachers on study programs to the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, and South Africa. All programs focus on ways in which U.S. teachers can incorporate global and environmental education into their classrooms and communities.

Costa Rica

The Toyota International Teacher Program to Costa Rica has been running for five years. Teachers explore the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and learn about environmental and cultural preservation. Teachers also explore themes of sustainable resource use and biodiversity conservation through site visits, discussions, lectures and hands-on activities. While in Costa Rica, program participants meet with local experts, visit schools and museums, and experience the rainforest first-hand. Participants get exclusive access to Costa Rica's premier scientists as well as environmental and cultural organizations. A highlight of the study visit are the school visits. Participants are invited to rural Costa Rican primary and secondary schools to spend the day observing classes and interacting with teachers and students.

  • 30 teachers traveled in March 2007 on the pilot program to Costa Rica
  • 36 teachers traveled in February 2008 on the second program to Costa Rica
  • 25 teachers traveled in April 2009 on the third program to Costa Rica
  • 26 teachers traveled in June 2010 on the fourth program to Costa Rica
  • 26 teachers traveled in November 2011 on the fifth program and most recent program to Costa Rica

Did you know?

  • In terms of the 2008 Environmental Performance Index, Costa Rica is ranked 1st in the Americas and 5th in the whole world. The EPI is a method of ranking a country’s environmental performance, taking into account factors such as adequate sanitation, water quality, marine protected areas, irrigation stress, and critical habitat protection.
  • Costa Rica is home to half a million different species, out of which 300,000 are insects. It also hosts over 12 different ecosystems due to the country’s abundance of microclimates.
  • Costa Rica protects 26% of its national territory and is considered to be one of the 20 nations with the greatest biodiversity worldwide, although geographically it only represents 0.03% of the Earth’s surface.
  • Costa Rica has committed to becoming the world's first carbon-neutral nation by 2021.

Fast Facts

Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama

Capital: San José

Area: Slightly smaller than West Virginia, Costa Rica has a total area of 51,100 sq. kilometers with 1,290 km. of coastline

Population: 4,253,877 estimated as of July 2009

Government: Costa Rica is a democratic republic

Language: Spanish, although English is also spoken by many tourism staff members

Time Zone: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Requirements: U.S. citizens must present valid passports that will not expire for at least thirty days after arrival, and a roundtrip/outbound ticket

Measurements: Costa Rica uses the metric system.

Temperatures: The Central Valley with San Jose has an average of 22 degrees Celsius or 72 degrees Fahrenheit and is tempered with a cool coastal breeze. Due to Costa Rica’s varying elevation levels, it has varied and distinct climatic zones, but can generally be divided by its dry season, which runs from January through May and the rainy season, from May to November and December.

Current Environmental Issues: Deforestation and land use change are major environmental problems facing Costa Rica, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture. Other issues include soil erosion, coastal marine pollution, fisheries protection, solid waste management, and air pollution.

Galapagos Islands

Four groups of teachers have traveled on the Toyota International Teacher Program to the Galapagos Islands. Through the program, teachers gain valuable, first-hand insight into the human impact on this fragile ecosystem and World Heritage Site. Teachers explore environmental challenges and solutions through lectures by scientists and other experts, interactions with local residents (including teachers), and hands-on activities in nature. The program has already helped create lasting ties between U.S. and Galapagueño educators and further conservation efforts.

  • 20 teachers traveled in November 2006 on this groundbreaking program to the Galapagos Islands
  • 24 teachers traveled in October 2007 on the second program to the Galapagos
  • 29 teachers traveled in November 2008 on the third program to the Galapagos
  • 24 teachers traveled in November 2010 on the fourth and most recent program to the Galapagos

Did you know?

  • It is believed that these islands, now a designated World Heritage site, were first discovered March 10, 1535 by the Bishop of Panama when his ship was blown off course en route to Peru. In 1978, the Galápagos Islands were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2007 a World Heritage Site in Danger.
  • The name of the islands originates from the word galápago which means saddle in Spanish, after the shells of the saddle-backed Galápagos tortoises.
  • 97.5% of the Galápagos Islands land area is designated as National Park.
  • Only four of the islands are inhabited: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana

Fast Facts

Location: Straddling the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles from mainland Ecuador.

Capital: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal is capital of Galápagos Province.

Principal City: Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island is the commercial heart of Galápagos.

Area: 19 islands, and dozens of other islets and volcanic rocks have a total land area of 3,086 square miles, spread over an area of sea covering some 20,000 square miles.

Population: About 17,000 residing on 4 of the islands, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, and Floreana.

Government: Ecuador is a democracy, with an elected president.

Language: Spanish, although English is also spoken by many tourism staff members.

Time Zone: The Galápagos is on Central Standard Time.

Requirements: U.S. citizens must present a valid passport for entry; currently no visa or vaccines required.

Currency: U.S. dollars are now the standard currency in Ecuador and on vessels.

Electrical Outlets: Yachts operate on 110 volts/60 cycle currency, with standard North American outlets as do all the hotels in Galápagos.

Measurements: Ecuador, as all Latin America, uses the metric system.

Souvenirs: Plenty of souvenirs are available: t-shirts, postcards, keychains, maps, books, posters, jewelry, sarongs, etc. HOWEVER, you can also buy souvenirs made from corals, turtle, and tortoise shells. DON'T BUY THESE! They are illegal and support the black market.

Temperatures: Temperatures will be warm with cool evenings and a chance of rain.

Temperatures (F) Nov - Dec
Max Air Temp: 78 - 80
Min Air Temp: 66 - 68
Ave Sea Temp: 72 - 74
Ave Rainfall (in): 0.5 - 0.5

Vegetation Zones: The different altitudes throughout the islands allow for different vegetation.

South Africa

The inaugural Toyota International Teacher Program to South Africa was held in the summer of 2011. The program provided teachers first-hand exposure to the social and environmental complexity of South Africa, focusing on sustainable development and emphasizing the links between history, culture, power, and the environment. Teachers explored the country’s natural and cultural diversity through a range of site visits and hands-on activities.

24 teachers traveled in summer 2011 on the inaugural program to South Africa.

Did you know?

  • South Africa is home to eight of the world's official heritage sites, as determined by Unesco's World Heritage Committee.
  • At almost 5.5% of gross domestic product, South Africa has one of the highest rates of government investment in education in the world – usually around 20% of total government expenditure.
  • South Africa has the only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners - Vilakazi Street in Soweto has houses owned by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  • The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world at over 2,789 feet in height.

Fast Facts

Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Capital: Pretoria

Area: 1,219,090 sq. km, slightly larger than the state of Texas

Population: 49,109,107 as of July 2010

Government: Republic

Language: IsiZulu (official) 23.8%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.6%, Afrikaans (official) 13.3%, Sepedi (official) 9.4%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.9%, Xitsonga (official) 4.4%, other 7.2%, isiNdebele (official), Tshivenda (official), siSwati (official)

Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2 hours, or 7hrs Ahead of Washington D.C.

Requirements: U.S. citizens must present valid passports that will not expire for at least thirty days after arrival, and a roundtrip/outbound ticket

Measurements: South Africa uses the metric system.

Temperatures: Average at highs of 28°C/82°F to average lows of 8°C/46°F in the summer months while winter temperatures range from 1°C/34°F at night to around 18°C/64°F in the day.