By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Baja California Sur is the northern Pacific coast of Mexico. It is home to the University’s only international extension site. The CSU Todos Santos Center features stunning vistas in addition to unique research and educational facilities.
Our faculty and students have been traveling to the Todos Santos Center for several years. The largest numbers are from the Warner College of Natural Resources; they explore sustainable practices in areas ranging from agriculture to tourism as well as environmental conservation.
Marine biology students come to Todos Santos to investigate diverse lifeforms, including plankton and sea lions. Soil and crop science students study local agriculture. Veterinary students do 10-day externship rotations, performing free surgeries on animals from the nearby area. Kids Do It All is a music-theatre camp for children staffed by CSU students and members of the local community.
The Todos Santos Center also provides educational sessions and services for the local community on issues such as solid waste management and food preservation. The Center has over 50 community partners working to support these and other community priorities, and CSU is involved in several community committees focused on education and recycling.
Eight members of the Green and Gold Foundation, a philanthropic organization whose aim is to support CSU through impactful giving, recently visited the Todos Santos Center. Erik Olson (B.S., ’00; M.S., ’04) reports members were tremendously enthused by their visit, noting the Foundation is entertaining plans for an annual trek to Todos Santos. Carla Dore (B.S., ’83) was impressed by the “effectiveness of the Center” and enthusiastic about the ways in which learning at Todos Santos “expands the horizons of students.” James Iacino (B.A., ’05; M.B.A., ’12), CEO of Seattle Fish Company, also was impressed by the English language program for locals who fish for a living; he anticipates this will enable them to expand their markets well beyond the local community.
How can other alumni get involved? You can visit when vacationing in Baja California Sur; the Center offers tours every Wednesday at 11 am. There also are opportunities to volunteer with the English language program. Center Director Kim Kita welcomes donations, which support student scholarships, local engagement projects, and exchange opportunities that involve CSU students with local community members and Mexican students.
The Center’s vision is to “cultivate generations of global citizens and to partner in the creation of thriving communities through experiential learning and the exchange of knowledge.” Members of the Green and Gold Foundation, which has supported a Todos Santos project, as well as students and faculty who have been there, confirm that the Center is making great strides toward that vision. Donna Baily, business operations director for the Center and senior legal counsel for the CSU Research Foundation, shares a heartwarming story: “The Americans in the Center’s Spanish immersion program partnered with local community members studying English to create an altar for the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebration.” That joyous celebration illustrated what cooperation, understanding, and cross-cultural exploration can achieve.