Photo 1: Eco-Schools Workshop Participants
The Bahamas, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) hosted 40 educators from around the archipelago for in-person (and in-water) Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators workshop. The workshop theme was “Reducing Environmental Pollution in The Bahamas” and was supported by one of the first grants made by the newly established Sean Connery Foundation. The first day of the two-day workshop was held at the New Providence Community Centre and brought together educators, partners, and speakers from Abaco, Andros, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma, and New Providence for to improve and expand their respective programmes designed to inspire students toward excellence in environmental stewardship.
“The BREEF Eco-Schools workshop was very informative and very well organized. It is exciting to be bringing the Eco-Schools program back to Abaco as we continue to recover from Hurricane Dorian,” said Jim Richard, Principal at Abaco’s Forest Heights Academy.
The keynote address was given by Mr. Arana Pyfrom, Senior Environmental Officer at the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection. Other guest speakers included representatives from the New Providence Ecology Park, the Bahamas Wildlife Enforcement Network, Keep Grand Bahama Clean and Family Medical Centre. The workshop culminated with a hands-on experience led by the BREEF outreach team.
Photo 2: Kevin Glinton, National Operator, Eco-Schools Bahamas (Left) and Durona Joseph (Right), Teacher at Hope Town Primary School, Abaco receiving a copy of Bahamas Underwater at the workshop.
According to Beth Hall, coordinator at St. Andrew’s International School, “It was so wonderful to be able to come together again after what felt like such a long time! I always come away with a lighter heart and mind after hearing about the fantastic work our students have going on in our fellow Eco-Schools. It is an excellent opportunity to share ideas and network with fellow Eco warriors of the environment and invited guests. Thank you BREEF for another engaging workshop.”
BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas programme is part of the largest global sustainable student-led school initiative, with Eco-Schools in over 70 countries. Currently, The Bahamas’ network consists of 40 schools spread over six islands with a student population totalling more than 17,672 children. BREEF has been running the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme since 2009.
“With the support of the Connery Foundation, BREEF brought educators from around the Bahamian archipelago together to help inspire students toward excellence in environmental stewardship and ocean literacy, and to expand the Eco-Schools programme to more schools,” said BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert.
Speaking about the success of the workshop Kevin Glinton said, “Every year, the Eco-Schools Bahamas network jumpstarts the new academic year of student-led environmental activities by coming together to share, learn and develop strategies to engage students in fun-filled actions to protect our Bahamian ecosystems. After two years of virtual meeting, we finally met in-person. I am truly thankful to all who attended especially, the many new coordinators and schools from the Family Islands and New Providence interested in joining the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme.”
Speaking about her organization’s efforts to assist the Grand Bahama Eco-Schools with their goals, Nakira Wilchcombe, workshop speaker, and Keep Grand Bahama Clean executive, said, “I truly enjoyed the workshop and all of the presentations. Hats off to the BREEF team for the excellent work, and I hope we can meet some of our goals by the end of the year.”
“The 2022 Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop was a worthwhile and encouraging experience. It was an honour to be present at such an eco-friendly event with information and goals that are aligned with the needs of our school. It also presented an opportunity for communion and collaboration amongst schools that already have the Green Flag,” said Johnette Ferguson-Morris, coordinator at C. R. Walker Senior High School.
Photo 3: Durona Joseph, Teacher, Hope Town Primary School, Abaco (L), TeShalla Clarke ESB National Committee Member & BREEF volunteer (2nd L), Teedra Minnis- Hinsey, Teacher, Fresh Creek Primary School,
Andros (2nd R), and Jim Richards, Principal, Forest Height Academy, Abaco exploring the underwater environment as a living classroom at Saunders Beach on Day 2 of the workshop
Photo 4: Students learn about the importance of protecting ocean ecosystems during the public snorkel events.
Vernelle L. Carey, Master Teacher at Abaco’s Every Child Counts school said, “ The workshop was such an educational and information filled day, I wished all our teachers could experience the event. It is a rare occasion when every presenter gives a topical and thought-provoking presentation. Then the icing on the cake and absolute highlight for me was the snorkelling session at Saunders Beach on Saturday morning. The BREEF Outreach team greeted me with such confidence, I had no qualms about it being my first formal snorkelling experience. Even the rainy weather and murky waters could dampen my delight and sense of accomplishment. Thanks to the BREEF team for an exceptionally informative, thought-provoking, fun-packed two days.”
The workshop was made possible through the generous support of the Sean Connery Foundation and the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative. To learn more about BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme and its work in promoting the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment, please visit www.breef.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.