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Community Last Updated: Feb 24, 2018 - 12:53:33 PM

Youth leaders enrolled in environmental ambassador program
By Save The Bays
Feb 24, 2018 - 8:38:36 AM

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All Aboard! – Participants of the Youth Environmental Ambassador (YEA) program sponsored by Save The Bays set sail for a sea expedition complete with shark sightings and reef exploration.

Program tagged as ongoing success with more than 200 graduates

They trek through woods and meander through gardens with cameras and notepads in hand. They explore the undersea world and get up close with snakes and birds. They are participants of one of the most sought after programs in The Bahamas, Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA). Sponsored by Save The Bays, the program now in its fifth year has trained more than 200 students in Grand Bahama who are learning today to appreciate the precious and often fragile resources of The Bahamas that they pledge to respect tomorrow.

This year, 33 students are participating in the program that consistently draws more applicants than it has space to accommodate. Participants experience the variety of rich Bahamian ecosystems through first-hand experiences complete with lectures and field trips.

On two Saturdays of each month, facilitators, all of whom have secured leadership training through Center for Creative Leadership, lead both theory and practical components allowing YEAs the opportunity to learn about these systems then explore them, conducting observatory exercises, making assessments or gathering data on human impact. The program also attracts guest lecturers, and so far the students have learned about sharks and rays in The Bahamas with lectures lead by Dr. Tristan Guttridge and Michael Scholl of Save Our Seas Foundation. 

A walk to remember – Youth Environmental Ambassadors study flora and fauna in Gardens of the Groves in Grand Bahama during a field trip to learn about ecological diversity. This is the fifth year of the popular program sponsored by Save The Bays and once again demand exceeded available space to accommodate students who want to know more about the environment around them.

For the year, expeditions included treks through Grand Bahama’s most touted green space, Gardens of The Groves, a glass-bottom sailing excursion with shark and coral reefs identification and personal interactions with a Bahamian boa constrictor.  These expeditions complemented three academic sessions that focused on the connectivity of life between animals, trees and humans; a study of sharks and rays in The Bahamas; and the pine forest ecosystem.

“When I reflect on the past five years, I could not be more satisfied with the reception of the YEA program, the enthusiasm displayed by our ambassadors and the overall support,” said Rashema Ingraham YEA Coordinator. “We are always so impressed by the growth of our students at the end of each module. By then, many of them find their voices and become advocates for the environment. It is truly a proud moment.” 

L TO R Photo 1: Wrapped around my fingers - Maria Williams, a member of Youth Environmental Ambassador (YEA) program and Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy student, gets up close and personal with a Bahamian boa constrictor during a session of the Save The Bays program designed to nurture respect for the environment and create environment ambassadors of the future; Photo 2: Taye Fountain, Bishop Michael Eldon School, 8th Grader.

Ingraham explains the competitive entry process.

“Each fall students are recommended by their teachers and guidance counsellors,” shared Ingraham. “Students are then selected based on submission of two essays in which they demonstrate their understanding of the essence of Save the Bays and their knowledge of climate change and its effect on coastal communities of which The Bahamas is.”

This year’s program will end with a pinning ceremony in mid-May.

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.

Bradley Rutherford, YEA Environmental Facilitator

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