Registration Opens for Grand Bahama’s Popular Youth Environment Training Program, Winter Session to Have Fewer Participants, Offer Broader Experiences
Three years after it was launched as the training ground to help prepare junior high students in Grand Bahama to become ambassadors for the environment, the popular Youth Environment Ambassadors program opened for registration this week but with noticeable differences.
“There will be fewer participants but they will enjoy broader experiences,” explained YEA Administrator Rashema Ingraham. “In the past, we have accommodated 40 deserving students per 12-week series. While that was great, the high number made travel to other islands to experience what is special about their environment unrealistic so this year we aim to limit the number to 20 students but work toward opportunities for those participants to travel to explore and study the land and marine environment in at least two of the Family Islands.”
The program sponsored by Save The Bays has been so popular that more than twice as many students apply as can be accommodated.
“It’s been heartbreaking to turn away so many eager faces when they are lined up, wanting to learn, wanting to get hands-on experience with nature,” said Mrs. Ingraham. Under the reorganization of the program, applicants will have the option to apply online. Admission, Mrs. Ingraham said, will be based on responses to questions dealing with commitment to environmental preservation, conservation and stewardship. “In introducing the more intensive, in-depth Youth Environmental Ambassadors program, we are searching for those with a passion for the environment.”
During the upcoming training sessions, students will cover coral reefs, pine forests, shoreline management, mangroves and wetlands, pollution – plastic pollution, air and water pollution. There will also be heightened activities with beach, bay and sea clean-ups efforts.
Graduates of former sessions have told Ingraham and Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville that being in the program has taught them not only to treasure and respect the environment, but assisted in their own personal development, including an increased appreciation for the importance of discipline and in preparing for BJCs. The upcoming session begins November 5 and runs every other Saturday for six months with in-class academic work followed by excursions and field trips that could take participants through industrial plants, swimming over coral reefs or tromping through bush.
YEA is one of many initiatives of Save The Bays, an organizations that is calling for a strong Freedom of Information Act, a comprehensive environmental protection act, an end to unregulated development and other stewardship measures. An online petition has drawn nearly 7,000 signatures and Save The Bays Facebook page is one of the most popular in the region with more than 20,000 Friends and Fans.