Radford University students discuss recent trip to Peruvian Amazon

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Radford University returned from a month spent working in Peru. But they weren't there for service work, the students were getting an education they couldn't get on campus.

Fifteen students and two professors lived together for much of May and the beginning of June in the Peruvian Amazon.

Getting off campus gives these students an opportunity they can't get at Radford.

"It takes them out of their comfort zone and it challenges them in a very positive way," said Assistant Professor of Biology Joy Caughron. "When you're out in the real world working on real problems, you get all kinds of interactions and skills and challenges and discoveries that you would never get in a traditional classroom setting."

And Peru was the perfect place for students to get those chances.

Associate Professor of Psycology Jay Caughron explained, "There's a lot of very interesting culturally, biologically, and ecologically sites and other experiences you can have there and you can access them fairly easily from the United States."

It was a trip and experience students were lined up for.

Jay Caughron said it's a kind of trip normally only graduate students get to enjoy, but this was for undergrads to experience.

Senior Biology student Luis Arias said, "I got to witness the most beautiful areas on this planet and I am in awe and forever grateful to have the opportunity. Very grateful!"

On top of just the experience, each student had their own project to test and experiment while they were in the Peruvian Amazon.

"I was looking for the bacteria that causes Fish Handler's Disease," Junior Nursing student Rebecca Cox said of her project. "I caught and swabbed a bunch of different species of fish, and with those swabs I ran a series of tests to narrow down the different types of bacteria that could have been in the fish slime."

Kendalyn Hersh, a Junior Biology student, added about her project, "I was studying medicinal plants, specifically looking at ones for cutaneous injuries, so skin lacerations or skin abrasions. Here in the [United] States, we use Neosporin commonly, so I was looking for the natural Neosporin or an antibiotic."

This was the second year the school did the trip and administrators plan to continue it. In fact, there will be two trips to Peru in the Summer of 2017, and students are already hoping to go back.

Senior Biology student Erin Dudbley said, "I want to bring some educational supplies down there, posters, things like that for the villages that don't have any resources to educate themselves."