Archive | Education

Camp Eco Explorer Registration Opens, Camps Set for Ages 7-11, 12-16

Registration opens this week for two local summer camps in Grand Bahama designed to bring youth and teens closer to — and smarter about — what exists in the natural world around them. 

The week-long camps sponsored by Save The Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas include field trips, indoor activities, team building, character development and making new friends, with activities ranging from soil composting to swimming with wild dolphins.

“This is our second year for Camp Eco-Explorer and at the end of last year’s sessions, even though they only lasted a week, kids told us it was the best experience they ever had. They never knew there was so much in the air, in the trees, in the ground and in the water right around them that they did not fully appreciate before,” said Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham.

Activities are age-related with some sessions including kayaking, cave tours, soil composting, bird watching, snorkeling and more. 

The first session, July 24-28, is for older students 12 – 16 from 9 am to 5 pm, with the following session August 7-11 for younger students ages 7 to 11 from 9 am to 3 pm. The $50 registration fee for the younger group and $100 fee for the teens includes lunch and all materials. Space is limited to 15 campers per session and Ingraham expects slots to fill quickly. To register, call 602-7531 or 373-7558 or e-mailprograms@savethebays.bs.  

Save The Bays Donates to 6 Schools for Environmental Programs

Hundreds of students in the northern Bahamas will find environmental programs in their schools next year, thanks to a generous donation from Save The Bays.

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.

Save The Bays Pins 24 Bahamian Youth Environmental Ambassadors

Zhyir Miranda, 12, knew even as a youngster that littering was wrong. But it wasn’t until she signed up for Youth Environmental Ambassadors and saw the damage it could do to marine life that she fully understood littering wasn’t just ugly – it was dangerous. 

“Littering does not just look bad, littering can kill the turtles in the sea. It can kill the animals that live in the mangroves and depend on mangroves for their survival especially when they are young,” said the 12-year-old who rattled off characteristics of red, black and white mangroves as if she were reciting words of a favourite rap tune.

On Saturday, Zhyir was pinned for her passion, rewarded for her enthusiasm.

The Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy seventh grader became one of 24 young Bahamians certified as Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA), a program sponsored and operated by the environmental advocacy organization Save The Bays.

Students and facilitators conduct fact-finding missions as part of their field studies to earn certification in the Save The Bays Youth Environmental Ambassadors program.

For the past four months, junior high students like Zhyir spent every second Saturday trekking through bush, cleaning beaches, learning about wetlands, studying the impact of plastic on oxygen supply of salt or fresh water marine life. All activities, both in the classroom at the YMCA in Freeport and in the field, were geared toward making participants future leaders in environmental stewardship.

“This was the fourth year Save the Bays has offered Youth Environmental Ambassadors to youth in Grand Bahama,” said Rashema Ingraham who oversees the popular program that normally draws twice as many applicants as there is space to accommodate. More than 200 have graduated. The last 4-month session, Ingraham said, differed from former versions of the program.

“In the past, we spent a lot of time visiting sites, learning about how industrial waste is managed, for instance, or power generated or what it takes to produce solar energy. But this time we focused on research which we shared with organisations abroad. The work that participants did was very important. They gathered data about shoreline erosion, indigeneous vegetation and wetlands. Some of the work involved fine detail. There were sections of beach, for instance, that when we did a beach clean-up, we separated the trash and garbage to identify how much plastic or glass or metal or other debris we found. The most discouraging part was that the majority of the debris we collected had not floated ashore from passing ships. Based on bottles and labels of products, most of the litter we found was the result of local activity reflecting environmental neglect and disrespect.”

Littering still hurts Zhyir, but now she is more likely to speak up when she sees someone toss something from a car window, even if the offender is much older or bigger. 

“It is bad for the ocean and it kills things in the sea. It kills turtles. When I joined Save The Bays (YEA), I learned a lot more about our environment and I learned that there are 80 species of mangroves. I learned so much and now I want to stand up for the environment. Did you know that viviparis, they’re like plants that give birth to live plants, grow up in salt water and breathe oxygen from above the water? I found that cool.”

Finishing in the top three of the class, Zhyir said the course that included leadership and teamwork played out through team drumming exercises, helped reaffirm her passion to care for pets as a veterinarian. 

As graduates received their pins and began their roles as youth ambassadors, the schools they came from were also rewarded. Save The Bays provided financial support for all six schools whose students participated in the YEA program including 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.

The YEA program is part of Save The Bays education mandate. The organization has also led the demand for a strong Freedom of Information Act, transparency in government, an end to unregulated development and more. Its strong legal arm has experienced courtroom victories leading to greater sensitivity to environmental impact. More than 20,000 have liked STB Facebook page and its petition to the Prime Minister of The Bahamas calling for a comprehensive environmental protection act among other changes has nearly 7,000 signatures.

Save The Bays Youth Environment Ambassadors Study Paradise Cove’s Coral Reef Regeneration

On a recent Saturday, off a stretch of beach with sand so fine and waters so sparkling it  could be the iconic Instagram image, dozens of young Bahamians were hard at work.

Barry Smith, left, shows participants in Youth Environment Ambassadors how reef balls work to attract marine life. Smith is with Paradise Cove in Grand Bahama which spearheaded the island’s adopt-a-reef program. Hundreds of thousands of reef balls are deployed off the coasts of some 70 countries and are believed to be the best and most effective artificial reef design. Funding for the program also provides the means to dissect sections of endangered reefs and replant them in protected areas.

Barry Smith, left, shows participants in Youth Environment Ambassadors how reef balls work to attract marine life. Smith is with Paradise Cove in Grand Bahama which spearheaded the island’s adopt-a-reef program. Hundreds of thousands of reef balls are deployed off the coasts of some 70 countries and are believed to be the best and most effective artificial reef design. Funding for the program also provides the means to dissect sections of endangered reefs and replant them in protected areas.

Members of the Youth Environment Ambassadors (YEA), a program funded and operated by Save The Bays, were learning that sometimes what man takes away, humankind can make good again – they were witnessing that even with fragile coral reefs, there can be new life.

The YEA’s were learning about and observing the Reef Ball initiative at Paradise Cove Beach Resort, Grand Bahama. Reef balls, made of a highly porous concrete and silica, are the most effective design module for artificial reefs and provide a safe, eco-friendly home for sustainable marine life. Hundreds of thousands of reef balls, each capable of producing up to 500 pounds of biomass a year, are deployed in 70 countries, not only attracting marine life they were designed for, but the adoption programs funding the regrowth of endangered corals.

Barry Smith, who spearheads the Grand Bahama reef ball project, told the youth environment ambassadors that thanks to funding through the adopt-a-reef initiative, the local program has entered its second phase, rescuing and, where practical or feasible, replanting endangered reefs.

“This is all about coral rescue and replanting and requires harvesting imperiled coral that would be at risk of death within the next 12 months and planting them in a cement plug and transplanting the coral on the reef balls so that they can grow and flourish,” he said.

YEA Coordinator Rashema Ingraham said seeing something that faced destruction but could be saved and regenerated inspired hope on many levels.

“Over the past three years, the YEA program has exposed young Bahamians to the good, the bad and the ugly of the environment,” Ingraham said. “But of all the projects we have seen, studied or helped, the reef ball program is likely the most exciting because it demonstrates that even as we watch our own reefs get swallowed up by dredging that should never be allowed, or by careless anchoring by boaters or as reefs die off from natural causes, there is hope. We humans have a role to play in creating artificial reefs and funding removal of endangered reefs and replanting. It’s long, it’s tedious but it works and that is what is critical. Learning that you really can create a living artificial reef that attracts hundreds of marine animals and where they can thrive has to be the very top of the top of the good.”

The YEA program is so popular that the demand to participate far outweighs the number of spots available. Classes are held every other Saturday for four months with academics followed by field studies and hands-on experiences.

“Since its inception, the YEA program has opened the eyes of more than 200 young Bahamians. They have trekked through wetlands, studied industrial waste management, learned about renewable energy and spent hours exploring underwater life,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville. “These young men and women have the awesome task of becoming the future stewards of our environment and this program has sensitized them to how delicate the balance is and what it will take to ensure the beauty and majesty of this country is preserved for future generations.”

Founded in 2013, Save The Bays has emerged as a leading voice in the protection of the environment and human rights through education, advocacy and legal action. The civil society organization has more than

Class Act – Youth Environment Ambassadors, a program funded and operated by Save The Bays, includes formal academics and hands-on experiences. YEAs meet every other Saturday for four months and those who qualify in knowledge and leadership at the end of each series graduate with a certificate in environmental stewardship.

Class Act – Youth Environment Ambassadors, a program funded and operated by Save The Bays, includes formal academics and hands-on experiences. YEAs meet every other Saturday for four months and those who qualify in knowledge and leadership at the end of each series graduate with a certificate in environmental stewardship.

20,000 Facebook friends and has amassed nearly 7,000 signatures on a complex petition calling for, among other items, comprehensive environmental protection legislation and an end to unregulated development. Its pressure for freedom of information contributed to the recent debate and passage of the Freedom of Information Act 2016 in the House of Assembly. The bill still faces debate in the Senate whose members are reportedly studying several amendments recommended by 21 civil society groups.

Save The Bays launches annual Youth Environmental Ambassador Program for 4th year

Freeport, GRAND BAHAMA – For the fourth consecutive year, young people from Grand Bahama are trading their right to sleep late or hang with their friends for the privilege of traipsing through woods and wetlands as they are groomed to become good stewards of the environment.

Alec Nabb, YEA facilitator, showing students different types of mangroves and their adaptation and zoning.  Photo: STB

Alec Nabb, YEA facilitator, showing students different types of mangroves and their adaptation and zoning. Photo: STB

Thirty junior high students have been selected to take part in Save The Bays Youth Environ mental Ambassador Program. The respected youth development initiative launched on January 7 and will run until May. 

“For the next five months participants will gain an awareness of their environment, learn the importance of taking care of it and how to keep it healthy for future generations,” said Rashema Ingraham, YEA organizer. Discussions and field exercises will cover a myriad of topics including climate change, plastic pollution, coral reefs and mangroves.

2017.01.12 Getting a closer look “What is interesting is that many of them really want to be outdoors,” said Ingraham. “That may be difficult to conceptualize with all the lures of electronics and mesmerizing television shows. We have to find ways to get our children to connect to the outdoors so that they grow to appreciate the beauty of the world around them.” 

According to Ingraham, the program’s success relies on the ability of facilitators to arouse passion about conservation and engaging participants to spread the message about its importance. 

One of those facilitators, Bradley Rutherford, said he wished the program had been available when he was younger.

“It is a very enriching experience for facilitators and students,” said Rutherford. “The opportunity is certainly one I wish was available when I was a youth.”

For participant Justus Fox, the YEA experience was unparalleled.

I participated in workshops with similar activities, but nothing as good as my first session experience with the YEA program,” said Fox, a student at Jack Hayward Junior High, one of six schools with students who qualified to attend. The others Bishop Michael Eldon, Sunland Baptist Academy, Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High, Tabernacle Baptist Academy, Jack Hayward Junior High and Mary Star of the Sea. 

Sessions are held bi-weekly on Saturdays at the YMCA.

2017.01.12 Save the Bays Chairman, Joseph Darville

Waterkeepers and STB lead youth environmental adventure

Camp Eco-Explorer – Kids Version taught 12 Grand Bahama youngsters to appreciate the environment and motivated them to do all they can to protect it

 

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The word ‘environment’ means a whole lot more to a group of Grand Bahama students now that they’ve completed the first ever Kids Version of Eco Explorer Camp!

Camp Eco-Explorer – Kids Version, a seven-day camp sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, was organized to get youngsters excited about their eco-systems and impress upon them how important it is to take care of our natural resources.

Camp_6“Our facilitators had the experience of working with teenagers over the past three years and became painfully aware at times of the lack of knowledge about and appreciation for our wonderful, rich and precious environment.  It became obvious that a great deal of work has to be done to enlighten our youth about our natural treasures,” said STB chairman Joseph Darville.

The theme for the week was ‘Protect. Preserve. Lead’ and students learned about pine forests, composting, recycling, mangroves, caves, the water cycle, weather, and climate change.

Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, says her organization focuses on ensuring swimmable, fishable, drinkable water for all.  “We are adamant about giving each Bahamian an opportunity to connect with the water, either for enjoyment or to ensure it is safe.  Programs like the Eco Explorer Camp gives campers opportunities to really understand why and how all species of the Earth depend on clean water,” she said.

When they were done in the classroom, they headed to the great outdoors to see first-hand just what they were learning about.

There was no shortage of outdoor fun! Field trips to the Rand Nature Centre, Garden of the Groves, Lucayan National Park, GB Meteorology Office, and Fortune beach brought out the true explorers in each student.

They were supplied with binoculars, magnifying glasses and even snorkeling gear to help them really get into the role of the scientist or the observer.

According to Darville, the program was very ambitious. “The content was challenging and demanded a level of attention and involvement commensurate with and beyond their age. However, with due diligence and encouragement, seasoned with a lot of patience, the facilitators were able to implant in those young minds and spirits an awesome regard and respect of our precious environment”, he said.

Social Media Fun: Kids who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama last week had the chance to send a social media message with hashtags. The seven-day camp, which also included a day spent birding at the Rand Nature Centre and a visit to the compost center at the Garden of the Groves, was sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays.

Social Media Fun: Kids who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama last week had the chance to send a social media message with hashtags. The seven-day camp, which also included a day spent birding at the Rand Nature Centre and a visit to the compost center at the Garden of the Groves, was sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays.

Both Ingraham and Darville agreed these lessons should be part of everyday learning.  “We can have beach cleanups every week,” said Ingraham, but if there is no focus on why littering and illegal dumping are toxic for our water supply, there will always be unsightly trash in our communities.”

Darville is strongly advocating for the inclusion of a vibrant environmental curriculum in every school. “If our children do not know and aren’t able to celebrate our natural blessings, they will be more inclined to destroy them.” he said.

Those 12 students left camp with more than certificates. “From all indications, we have some future environmentalists on our hands,” Ingraham said.

As members of Waterkeeper Alliance, a leading international NGO that coordinates more than 290 member licensed organisations who act as watchdogs for the world’s waterways, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas work tirelessly to make sure the citizens of the Bahamas are educated and informed about decisions, policies and practices that have an impact — positively or negatively — on the country’s fragile ecosystem. One of its main initiatives is protection of mangroves which act as incubators for marine life and a barrier from ocean surges and flooding during storms.

Bird Watching: Twelve Kid Campers were taught the basics on bird-watching as part of Kids Version of Camp Eco-Explorer. The weeklong camp exposed campers to the natural environment of The Bahamas while educating them on environmental and conservation issues.

Bird Watching: Twelve Kid Campers were taught the basics on bird-watching as part of Kids Version of Camp Eco-Explorer. The weeklong camp exposed campers to the natural environment of The Bahamas while educating them on environmental and conservation issues.

Camp_3

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Kids Version of Camp Eco-Explorer: Kids who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama, hosted by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, spent a day learning about the importance of recycling and composting, with a visit to the Garden of the Groves compost section. Here little camper Stephen Gay is assessing the soil to determine if the soil is rich with necessary nutrients.

Camp_4

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Kids Version of Camp Eco-Explorer: Kids who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama, hosted by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, spent seven days exploring the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas through field trips like the freshwater caves, mangroves, coastal shoreline and beaches. In addition to getting up-close-and-personal with nature, campers spent the week learning about environmental issues that will impact their future and ways they can get involved in conservation efforts.

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Kids Version of Camp Eco-Explorer: Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays took twelve kid campers to the GB Meteorology Office to learn about weather and changes in weather over a period of years recently as part of Camp Eco-Explorer – Kids Version. In addition to learning about weather and climate change, the kid campers also learned about the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas and ways they can contribute to its preservation and conservation.

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Kids Version of Camp Eco-Explorer: Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays took twelve kid campers to the GB Meteorology Office to learn about weather and changes in weather over a period of years recently as part of Camp Eco-Explorer – Kids Version. In addition to learning about weather and climate change, the kid campers also learned about the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas and ways they can contribute to its preservation and conservation.

 

 

Waterkeepers Bahamas works to promote the availability of clean water on all three of the waterbodies for which it is licensed – Bimini, Grand Bahama and Clifton-Western Bays in New Providence – with the goal of ensuring they are swimmable and fishable for future generations of Bahamians. The organisation is a proud member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement that has united more than 290 Waterkeeper members and affiliates around the world, all working together to focus citizen action on issues that affect waterways from pollution to climate change. If you are aware of pollution, unregulated development or other illegal activities taking place in the area please contact Rashema Ingraham via phone 242-602-7531 or email  waterkeepers.bahamas@gmail.com

Waterkeepers Bahamas & Save The Bays Sponsor First-Ever Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Sponsor First-Ever Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama

Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham (l) and Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville (center) spent seven days introducing nine Grand Bahama teens and pre-teens to mangroves, stingrays and farm animals as part of Camp Eco-Explorer. In addition to participating in outdoor activities, the teens were taught the importance of environmental conservation and protection, and how it all begins with leadership and good character development.

Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham (l) and Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville (center) spent seven days introducing nine Grand Bahama teens and pre-teens to mangroves, stingrays and farm animals as part of Camp Eco-Explorer. In addition to participating in outdoor activities, the teens were taught the importance of environmental conservation and protection, and how it all begins with leadership and good character development.

 

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Leaders Take Nine Teens On A Weeklong Eco Tour of Grand Bahama

Camp Eco-Explorer Teaches Youngsters Importance of Ecological Conservation

Tell people you’ve just spent seven days swimming with stingrays, gliding through mangroves in a kayak, horseback riding and swimming in the open water with dolphins and they might assume you’re describing an expensive eco holiday or a much-dreamed about summer vacation. They may even ask where they can sign up for one themselves.

But, for nine lucky Grand Bahama teens, experiencing some of the most unforgettable activities The Bahamas has to offer was all part of Camp Eco-Explorer, a seven-day camp sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays.

“It was such a blessing to convene with young minds and introduce them to Mother Nature in her most natural, unspoiled form,” said Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville. “To see their faces light up at the sight of a stingray and the peace that washed over their faces as we kayaked through mangroves….it was truly miraculous.”

As members of Waterkeeper Alliance, a leading international NGO that coordinates more than 290 member licensed organisations who act as watchdogs for the world’s waterways, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas work tirelessly to make sure the citizens of the Bahamas are educated and informed about decisions, policies and practices that have an impact—positively or negatively—on the country’s fragile ecosystem. One of its main initiatives is protection of mangroves which act as incubators for marine life and a barrier from ocean surges and flooding during storms.

“For a few of the campers, this was their first time in a kayak and also the first time they had been up close and in mangroves,” said Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham. “This camp has given them an experience to use as a point of reference when it comes making big decisions about their environment going forward.”

“I found it really impressive how beautiful the mangroves are,” said 15-year-old Viore Bosfield. “They are really amazing. They live in a such a tough area and they adapt perfectly.”

In addition to acting as buffers when severe weather strikes, mangroves provide filtration adding to the reasons Bahamian waters are crystal clear. Unfortunately, they are also one of the first plants cleared to make way for developments because they often stand between the open water and land. Removal of mangroves and wetlands makes hurricanes that much more devastating.

“So many people my age don’t care about the environment,” said 14-year-old camper Tyler Adderley. “They grow up thinking they should sell off our beautiful lands and beaches to others when they don’t realize it’s unique and should be kept as ours.”

These are exactly the kind of ecological realities Darville and Ingraham spent the week conveying to their young stewards with the hope that when it comes their turn to make decisions about the ecological future of their country, they’ll make informed choices.

“A big part of changing the mindset of Bahamians so they become involved in protecting and preserving the environment is to inspire Millennials,” Ingraham said. “Everyone can relate to a calming, life-changing experience when they talk about the water. These campers are the faces of our future Waterkeepers. They now have the confidence and the spark to be stronger agents of change.”

Waterkeepers Bahamas works to promote the availability of clean water on all three of the waterbodies for which it is licensed — Bimini, Grand Bahama and Clifton-Western Bays in New Providence –with the goal of ensuring they are swimmable and fishable for future generations of Bahamians. The organisation is a proud member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement that has united more than 290 Waterkeeper members and affiliates around the world, all working together to focus citizen action on issues that affect waterways from pollution to climate change. If you are aware of pollution, unregulated development or other illegal activities taking place in the area please contact Rashema Ingraham via phone 242-602-7531 or email  waterkeepers.bahamas@gmail.com

 

 

Swimming with Dolphins: Teens and pre-teens who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama last week had the chance to swim with free and untrained dolphins while snorkeling, including a tour through a beautiful coral garden and above many small ocean blue holes. The seven-day camp, which also included a day spent swimming with stingrays and a visit to a farm, was sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays.

Swimming with Dolphins: Teens and pre-teens who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama last week had the chance to swim with free and untrained dolphins while snorkeling, including a tour through a beautiful coral garden and above many small ocean blue holes. The seven-day camp, which also included a day spent swimming with stingrays and a visit to a farm, was sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays.

 

Swimming with Stingrays:  Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville (second from right sitting on boat) spent seven days guiding teens and pre-teens on an eco-tour around Grand Bahama as part of Camp Eco-Explorer, including a field trip to swim with the stingrays. The weeklong camp exposed campers to the natural environment of The Bahamas while educating them on environmental and conservation issues.

Swimming with Stingrays: Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville (second from right sitting on boat) spent seven days guiding teens and pre-teens on an eco-tour around Grand Bahama as part of Camp Eco-Explorer, including a field trip to swim with the stingrays. The weeklong camp exposed campers to the natural environment of The Bahamas while educating them on environmental and conservation issues.

 

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Camp Eco-Explorer: Teens and pre-teens who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama, hosted by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, spent a day kayaking through mangroves while learning about the crucial role the plants play in protecting our shores from flooding and storm surges and preventing beach erosion.

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Camp Eco-Explorer: Teens and pre-teens who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama, hosted by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, spent a day kayaking through mangroves while learning about the crucial role the plants play in protecting our shores from flooding and storm surges and preventing beach erosion.

 

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Camp Eco-Explorer: Teens and pre-teens who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama, hosted by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, spent seven days exploring the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas through field trips like swimming with dolphins and stingrays, snorkeling through coral reef gardens and kayaking through mangroves. In addition to getting up-close-and-personal with nature, campers spent the week learning about environmental issues that will impact their future and ways they can get involved in conservation efforts.

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Camp Eco-Explorer: Teens and pre-teens who attended Camp Eco-Explorer in Grand Bahama, hosted by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, spent seven days exploring the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas through field trips like swimming with dolphins and stingrays, snorkeling through coral reef gardens and kayaking through mangroves. In addition to getting up-close-and-personal with nature, campers spent the week learning about environmental issues that will impact their future and ways they can get involved in conservation efforts.

 

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Camp Eco-Explorer: Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham (above) led nine campers on a two-mile snorkeling excursion through coral reef gardens and above ocean blue holes recently as part of Camp Eco-Explorer, a seven-day camp sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays. In addition to swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, campers learned about the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas and ways they can contribute to its preservation and conservation.

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Host Seven-Day Camp Eco-Explorer: Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham (above) led nine campers on a two-mile snorkeling excursion through coral reef gardens and above ocean blue holes recently as part of Camp Eco-Explorer, a seven-day camp sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays. In addition to swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, campers learned about the fragile ecosystem of The Bahamas and ways they can contribute to its preservation and conservation.

 

Sustainable Gardening is Rooted in Dollars and Sense in The Bahamas

Farmers Tout Economic Benefits of Living off Your Own Land

image006
On a recent edition of Save the Bays Saturday radio show “Rise Up, Bahamas” on Nassau’s Love 97.5 FM, Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA) facilitators Ruth Cadet (left, wearing yellow), Rashema Ingraham (center wearing gray), Luckner Timothee of Grand Bahama Backyard Farmers (top right) and Javan Hunt (lower right) encouraged listeners to turn to their backyards into farms for the good of their health, and their wallets.

When Luckner Timothee was growing up, gardening was just something his mom did, augmenting family meals with cassavas and pigeon peas she grew in their backyard. It wasn’t trendy and it certainly wasn’t glamorous, but it was a part of daily life. It wasn’t until his mom suffered an aneurysm a few years ago, however, that Timothee decided to put his own hands in the earth.

“Nobody in my age group wanted to get into farming because they think of it as a dirty job, but I wanted to keep it up for her,” said the 31-year-old Grand Bahama farmer during a recent edition of Save the Bays “Rise Up, Bahamas” radio show which is recorded in Freeport and airs in both Freeport and in Nassau on Love 97.5 FM.

A day spent assisting his friend, Javan Hunt, tend to his garden only served to further motivate Timothee, and practically overnight he had his own plot of land cleared out and ready for planting.

“I took gardening to a whole new level,” Timothee said. “I’m growing apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, guava…there really isn’t much you can’t grow in the Caribbean.”

Hunt, a YEA facilitator agrees, only his reasoning for turning to sustainable gardening boiled down to something much more basic: economics. As a vegetarian, Hunt was finding it increasingly difficult to justify spending hundreds of dollars a month at grocery stores.

“If you go into the supermarket to buy greens, that will break you,” Hunt said on Saturday’s radio show. “Greens alone was costing me almost $100 a week. If you want to feed yourself, you gotta go out and put your hands in that soil.”

According to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics, The Bahamas imports $500 million in fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that price tag could be drastically reduced if Bahamian citizens placed more emphasis on cultivating their own backyards. 

“We talk a lot about organic foods, and we don’t want to have to pay $100 to $150 a week for food that isn’t saturated with chemicals and GMOs, but we have this concept that somebody else should always be there to provide these things for us when we should be able to provide for ourselves,” said Rashema Ingraham, a fellow Save the Bays YEA facilitator who also participated in Saturday’s edition of “Rise Up, Bahamas.”

Timothee admits that at first setting up a garden can seem daunting, especially when you consider the initial costs incurred when you first set out to gather supplies, but the key is to focus on the three “R’s”:  reduce, reuse and recycle. For instance, pallets and water jugs can be used as planting containers and typical household refuse such as banana and carrot peels, apple cores and leaves that fall off trees can be used for compost.

“Sustainable gardening becomes second nature once if you shift your mindset from being a taker to being part of something that is bigger,” Timothee said. “It’s not just farming. A plant in your apartment or on your patio…that will change you for the better.”

 

Students Gather to Plant Tree of Life at Windsor Preparatory School

image003

Diane Phillips Leads Earth Week Presentation as Part of The Canopy Project

Children dressed in every shade of green from lime to forest and chartreuse assembled in the schoolyard of Windsor Preparatory School at Old Fort in Nassau on Wednesday, ears tuned and eyes bright with anticipation as they gathered for a tree-planting ceremony as part of the school’s Earth Week festivities.

“What’s happening today? Why is everybody dressed in green?” the school’s founder Lisa McCartney asked, warming the group up for the morning’s presentation by Diane Phillips.

“It’s Earth Day!” a chorus of young voices sang in response as students ranging in age from Kindergarten to 8th grade streamed in, vying for the best view.

Phillips, a member of the non-profit environmental conservation and education group Save the Bays, was on hand to plant a Lignum Vitae tree in honor of The Canopy Project, an initiative launched by the Earth Day Network in 2011 which works with local communities to conserve, repair, and restore tree cover. To date, the project has been responsible for planting 3.2 million trees worldwide.

Phillips opened the day’s presentation by asking students for their own definition of the environment.

“It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink, the sea we swim in….what else is it?” Phillips said, prompting the youngsters.

“It’s life!” a young girl answered enthusiastically.

“And why are trees important to life?” Phillips asked, kneeling down to make eye contact with her young audience.

Hands shot up into the air as students competed to be the first to be called upon.

“They give oxygen,” one boy offered.

“It gives a home to animals,” said a young girl. 

“They make paper,” answered another.

“They use carbon dioxide,” an older student called out.

“You are absolutely right!” Phillips said, standing up to circulate. “Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is bad, and give off oxygen, which is good. In fact, did you know, if it weren’t for trees, there probably wouldn’t be human life? Next to water, greenery is the most important thing in the universe.” Students had been prepped for the tree-planting and could answer nearly all the questions about the value of trees from being sources of food and medicine to providing shade, limiting soil erosion and serving as a buffer against noise. 

Phillips added that while The Bahamas has been ahead of the conservation curve when it comes to enacting legislation to protect marine life citing shark and sea turtle bans and closed seasons for Nassau grouper and crawfish, the country remains about 40 years behind the U.S. when it comes to preserving the environment given the lack of an Environmental Protection Act.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 51.5 percent of The Bahamas is forested. Safeguarding the country’s tree population is critical to maintaining the integrity of its fragile ecosystem, particularly in the face of global warming. With the reality of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and more frequent and violent storms and floods, increasing tree cover to prevent devastating soil erosion especially in low-lying areas is a top priority.

The Nassau tree planting was just one of several activities by Save The Bays marking Earth Day, In Grand Bahama, Joe Darville, chairman of the organization with nearly 20,000 Facebook friends, planted a series of Lignum Vitae trees while Earthcare Eco-kids under the leadership of Save The Bays member Gail Woon did a beach clean-up. And well-known ecologist and attorney Romi Ferreira, a Save The Bays director, personally sponsored an Earth Day competition. Nine schools submitted projects for the day-long exhibition and judging held at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre at Police headquarters.

And private citizens did their part, including Elaine Pinder and team who dedicated five acres of wetlands at Sapodilla Estate in western New Providence, an oasis populated by ducks, turtles and birds and filled with beauty. 

Darville and Phillips said they selected the Lignum Vitae because it was not only the national tree of The Bahamas, but literally translates as “tree of life.”

“We have to do a lot more to protect our environment,” Phillips said. “We’re just at the start. I am not a scientist; I am not even an environmentalist—I wish I were. I am just someone like you—someone who cares about the environment.”

Save The Bays Youth Environment Ambassador Leadership Program Enters 3rd Year, 100% Oversubscribed

The Fortunate Future Ambassadors for the Environment – 80 students ages 12-14 showed up to register for a spot in this year’s Youth Environment Ambassadors program in Grand Bahama, but only 45 could be accommodated. It was the second time that the Save The Bays program that combines academics, practical and hands-on experiences was nearly 100% oversubscribed and this year students get the additional benefit of mentoring by 16 internationally certified facilitators in environmental leadership training, thanks in part to a grant from RBC. It is the second time RBC has partnered with Save The Bays for the popular series.

The Fortunate Future Ambassadors for the Environment – 80 students ages 12-14 showed up to register for a spot in this year’s Youth Environment Ambassadors program in Grand Bahama, but only 45 could be accommodated. It was the second time that the Save The Bays program that combines academics, practical and hands-on experiences was nearly 100% oversubscribed and this year students get the additional benefit of mentoring by 16 internationally certified facilitators in environmental leadership training, thanks in part to a grant from RBC. It is the second time RBC has partnered with Save The Bays for the popular series.

They lined up by the dozens – teenagers eager to sign on, ready to trade chilling out two Saturdays a month for the right to become leaders in environmental stewardship. They were the hopefuls trying to secure one of the sought-after spots in one of the most popular programs in The Bahamas – Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA).

 

Now entering its third year, the popular semi-monthly training that runs from mid-January to the end of May is sponsored by Save The Bays, the fast-growing environmental organization with nearly 20,000 Facebook friends. YEA also receives grant support from RBC for the training of facilitators through an international award-winning program.

 

Sessions start at the Grand Bahama YMCA before participants head to hand-on experiences, taking to the water to study coral reefs, lakes or wetlands or going on guided field trips ranging from eco-tourism exploration to insights into industrial plants, learning what environmental risks are at stake and what protection measures are undertaken to guard against potential damage.

 

The YEA program is in such demand that Save The Bays is trying to find ways to expand. For the second time, twice as many hopefuls showed up to sign up as could be accommodated and those 12-14-year-olds trying to get in competed by answering questions on climate change and other environment-related topics.

 

“The young people in Grand Bahama have been so enthusiastic,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville. “Like last year, we had 80 young men and women show up for 45 spots. The fact that these young people care so much and are competing for a spot in the program is encouraging because it shows that we are making real headway with educating our own people about how important the environment is and what role they can play in environmental stewardship.”

 

Thanks to $5,000 grants from RBC for the past two years, the global financial institution committed to saving the world’s water and providing clean drinking water, YEA has been able to connect with the internationally acclaimed Center for Creative Leadership, named by Financial Times Top Five Worldwide in Executive Education. Sixteen Bahamians who graduated from the Center’s leadership program and are now internationally certified will serve as facilitators for participants.

“Additionally, in preparation for the critical issue of climate change, a number of our team members not only received certified leadership training in climate change reality under former Vice President Al Gore, but they also were part of Waterkeeper Alliance/Save The Bays  delegates to the recent climate change summit in Paris (COP21 Paris).  Thus, not only is our team immensely qualified to expertly lead our youth forward at this critical juncture on our planet, but it is more than admirably capable to assist in working with national leaders in all matters related to climatic changes,” said Darville, who also attended the Paris conference.

 

“These are critical times in the life of this nation and its people, especially the young. They will truly be out environmental ambassadors carrying the important work and message forward and this program assists them in becoming involved in all the leadership aspects for personal development as well as for the fortification of their country.”

 

This year’s series opened January 16 with West End Ecology Tours and a presentation by its owners, Keith and Linda Cooper.

 

“Keith Cooper’s spirit of passion, inspiration and dedication to our precious environment of amazing abundance cannot but be infinitely infectious,” said Darville. “When he was showing the video of locals and tourists connecting with nature through snorkeling, feeding the sting rays and exploring reefs and wrecks off the coast of West End, the students were spellbound. At the end of our session, we saw smiles and shyness evaporating, new friendships forming and a budding realization that this is no ordinary program.  We grow by learning about and exploring our environment and when you get to know something, you love it.”

The YEA program is one of many initiatives of Save The Bays, the organization that has been vocal in environmental advocacy and education as well as filing legal action to ensure accountability in matters related to unregulated or harmful development. Save The Bays has been part of a growing movement urging Freedom of Information legislation and its calls for open government are reaching a growing audience.

Patrick Vedrine, Eight Mile Rock High student, left and Lauren Bethel, Tabernacle Baptist Academy, tackle questions related to the role of wetlands during the first session of the 2016 Youth Environment Ambassadors program, a Save The Bays initiative.

Patrick Vedrine, Eight Mile Rock High student, left and Lauren Bethel, Tabernacle Baptist Academy, tackle questions related to the role of wetlands during the first session of the 2016 Youth Environment Ambassadors program, a Save The Bays initiative.

 

She’s got the answer—This eager student is all eyes and hand raised to answer a question during the opening session of the 2016 Save The Bays initiative Youth Environment Ambassadors. She was one of the fortunate ones who got into the program that was once again 100% oversubscribed with 80+ students applying for 45 slots. Class sessions start at the YMCA in Grand Bahama before moving into the field for hands-on experiences and tours.

She’s got the answer—This eager student is all eyes and hand raised to answer a question during the opening session of the 2016 Save The Bays initiative Youth Environment Ambassadors. She was one of the fortunate ones who got into the program that was once again 100% oversubscribed with 80+ students applying for 45 slots. Class sessions start at the YMCA in Grand Bahama before moving into the field for hands-on experiences and tours.

 

Enthusiasm – 16 Bahamians who graduated from an internationally acclaimed leadership course, made possible in part by a grant from RBC, serve as facilitators in the popular Save The Bays Youth Environment Ambassadors program in Grand Bahama.

Enthusiasm – 16 Bahamians who graduated from an internationally acclaimed leadership course, made possible in part by a grant from RBC, serve as facilitators in the popular Save The Bays Youth Environment Ambassadors program in Grand Bahama.

 

Passion – West End Eco Tours owner Keith Cooper led students on a visual and verbal tour of the intricate eco-system of their own island of Grand Bahama during the opening session of the semi-monthly four month Save The Bays program Youth Environment Ambassadors. The program combines environmental issues with leadership training, preparing participants for future roles as stewards and protectors of the Bahamian environment.

Passion – West End Eco Tours owner Keith Cooper led students on a visual and verbal tour of the intricate eco-system of their own island of Grand Bahama during the opening session of the semi-monthly four month Save The Bays program Youth Environment Ambassadors. The program combines environmental issues with leadership training, preparing participants for future roles as stewards and protectors of the Bahamian environment.