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Medicinal plants

Field trips are a big part of the University of Montana's pharmacy class on medicinal plants.

But it's not very often that field trips in the class take students out of the country all the way to the Amazon rain forest.

"Every year we do different things," said Rustem Medora, the UM pharmacy professor who teaches the class. "But this year, we thought we would do something outside Missoula."

Next fall, students in the class, and anyone else who's interested, will have the opportunity to go on a field trip to Peru, where they will spend eight days at an internationally accredited workshop on the Amazon rain forest.

"We want to give students exposure to something they've never seen," Medora said. "They will see plants and flora and fauna they normally don't see. They read about them in texts, but they don't see them."

The field trip is optional, Medora said, largely because of the price tag associated with getting to South America. The expedition will cost $2,598 from Miami. All told, Medora estimates the total cost from Missoula will be around $3,000.

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Medora said he would like to put together a delegation of about 15 people from Missoula to attend the conference. He already has four students and a couple of faculty members on board. About 60 people are expected at the conference.

"There will be nationally and internationally known facilitators there," Medora said. "That sort of exposure you don't get on campus. It should be a mind-expanding experience."

Participants in the workshop will fly from Miami to Iquitos, Peru, on Oct. 23. The next day they will take a two-hour boat ride on the Amazon to the site of the "Pharmacy from the Rainforest Workshop."

The keynote speaker at the conference will by Varro Tyler, a professor at Purdue University who has written 16 books on medicinal plants. Topics covered at the workshop will include medicine, herbs and complementary therapies, neotropical birds and rain forest ecology.

Medora said that he is seeking sponsors who are willing to help defray costs of the field trip for students. He is also looking for participants, from health care professionals to college and high school students, who are interested in attending the conference.

Monday - 6/28/99

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