Santa Rosa

I just arrived home from Chile, where I had the opportunity to travel with VT administrators and other doctoral students to explore higher education in South America.  During the trip, I had the opportunity to go to the Santa Rosa Experimental Research Station.  The station is a part of the Universidad Austral de Chile’s agricultural research programs.  This is similar to US land-grant schools, as they also have agricultural research stations where professors and extension agents can conduct research and learn about advances in crop production.

Most of the funding for UACh’s research is derived from the government.  There is little (but some) private funding in Chile, which is an interesting contrast from US land-grants, where some professors can run their entire research programs on private funds.  In talking with professors, there were mixed feelings about private funding, but most (if not all) agreed that the government could and should increase monies allocated to university research.

Chile has major export markets for berries and the southern region of Chile is also responsible for approximately 70% of the country’s milk production.

Below are some pictures from the research station, including some pictures from the facilities and surrounding fields and greenhouses.

The first picture is the blueberry orchard for research purposes.  Their biggest problem… hungry students.  I think all blueberry researchers rant about that.

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180° South

Some time ago, I watched a film called 180° South.  It follows a young man (Jeff Johnson) attempting to re-trace Yvon Chouinard (Founder of Patagonia) and Doug Tompkins’s  (Founder of The North Face) adventure into Patagonia, Chile.  In the late 1960s, Chouinard and Tompkin made their way from the US to Patagonia via van to climb Cerro Corcovado, a volcano in Patagonia.  Johnson decided to do the same, but by boat, bringing along some of his climbing and surfing buddies.

The film is not an adrenaline rush, but rather a fairly quiet film about climbing, surfing, and the joy of being immersed in Patagonia wildlands, while bringing in some of the ecological issues surrounding Patagonia.  Some of the main issues involve agriculture, hydroelectric dams, and commercial fishing.  There isn’t an overbearing conservation theme; it seems that it just naturally arises from the fact that their goals, climbing and surfing, happen to require preserved lands.

The film is beautifully shot.  Given that we won’t be able to make our way that far south, this film provides wonderful footage of Patagonia.  Even if you’re not a climber or surfer, it’s still an interesting film.

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