Recipient schools, all in Grand Bahama, were surprised when they were selected without knowing they would be competing for the first of its kind donation.
“We wanted to reward each of the schools whose students were interested enough in the environment to enroll and participate in the Youth Environmental Ambassadors program,” said Joe Darville, Chairman of Save The Bays, the fast-growing local environmental movement launched in 2013 that has more than 20,000 Facebook fans today.
“Those students did extremely well in the most recent session which was the most challenging of all the series we have done. Not only did these young Bahamians give up every other Saturday for four months, they had to conduct research, sometimes tedious, reporting details that were forwarded to international authorities for inclusion in broader studies. The 24 students were so diligent. Even if they were sorting and separating types of plastic in beach trash, they understood that what they were doing was helping to paint a broader picture in order to understand sources, develop campaigns to end the litter and find ways to solve the problem that produced the litter and plastic in the first place.”
Two weeks ago, the 24 graduates were pinned during a lively ceremony that included drumming, part of the program designed to teach teamwork and build self-confidence.
School principals had been invited to attend the pinning ceremony.
“When we began to call them up to tell them they were receiving funds for their school’s environmental programs, their eyes popped, they grinned, no one had any idea,” said Darville, a retired educator who never stops teaching, but these days spends most of his time speaking about the fragile and oft-threatened Bahamian environment.
Some of the recipient schools have basic environmental programs, others will be able to introduce gardening, growing vegetables and herbs at the school grounds, or add to their anti-litter campaigns with additional trash receptacles and liners.
Recipient schools include Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Sunland Baptist Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy.
Save The Bays will offer the YEA program again during the school year and in the summer will host week-long Eco-Explorer summer camps for students ages 12-16 in July and for ages 7-11 in August. With only 15 slots available for each week’s camp, space is expected to fill quickly.