BREEF News

Young Bahamian Environmental Stewards begin BESS scholarship journey

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — After another year of hybrid learning, four new Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) are ready for in-person experiential learning through the BESS programme.

Applicants from New Providence, Eleuthera, and Grand Bahama competed for coveted seats in this gap year programme offered by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) and The Island School.

Asia Butler

Scholars for the 2022-2023 BESS Programme are Asia Butler from Harbour Island All Age School, Taye Fountain from Lucayan International School, Darielle Bullard from Bishop Michael Eldon School, and Gayle Burrows from Queen’s College. Each scholar will spend a life-changing semester at The Island School at Cape Eleuthera, in addition to a four-month paid internship at BREEF.

Recognizing the growing need to solve problems in a rapidly changing world, BREEF and The Island School mentor these independent students through solutions-based learning and scientific research internships. Upon completion of the programme each scholar leaves well equipped to lead The Bahamas into a more sustainable future.

Asia Butler has shown exceptional leadership as the president of the Bahamas Plastic Movement Ocean Ambassador’s Club as well as inspiring her community with her backyard gardening.

Taye Fountain

Butler said: “During the pandemic Bahamians were struck with fear over possible food shortages which could be prevented by encouraging agricultural jobs and making agriculture an important part of our education system, thus increasing food security and bringing us one step closer to a plastic-free community.”

Taye Fountain is a Maritime Cadet also involved with Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas.

Darielle Bullard

Fountain said: “I am an avid swimmer, spear fisherman, boater, and scuba diver. I believe I can take much of what I have learned from my environmental education and implement it to inform others of ways in which the economy and country can develop without damaging our environment.”

Darielle Bullard is a Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Cadet and also in the Maritime Cadet Corps. She gives back to her community through Anchor Club and Interact and loves diving with sharks.

“My passion is nature and marine life,” Bullard said.

“I like to help clean up the beach with my friends and visit Owl Hole. I plan to major in marine biology, and BESS will show me how to make a difference in the Bahamas and have fun while I accomplish my goals.”

Gayle Burrows participates in Green Team Eco Club, Aquaponics, and the Model UN. She realizes the impending doom of warming oceans and climate change and has worked with youth to shape their future.

Gayle Burrrows

“I have always wanted to contribute to my home, The Bahamas, by preparing children in younger generations to see that they have to take care of and preserve the environment because it’s our home,” Burrows said.

Since 2008, 55 young Bahamians have benefitted from this exceptional educational experience, with most scholars going on to pursue related tertiary studies or being currently employed in the environmental field.

The BESS Programme is a collaboration between BREEF and The Island School with over $160,000 provided in scholarships from The Island School to make the programme possible.

Click here to read the original Eyewitness News article.

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“International Day for Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems.”

Yesterday we celebrated the “International Day for Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems.”

Mangroves are at the heart of our Bahamian marine ecosystems that sustains our way of life! Marine species such as conch, crawfish, and juvenile fish live and grow up in and around mangroves and rely on them for protection.

Preserving our Bahamian mangrove ecosystem is vital, not only do they protect other organisms but they also protect our communities and our homes by preventing flooding and protecting our shorelines against erosion. To learn more about “Life in the Bahamian Mangrove Creek,” Download our poster today!

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BREEF Kicks Off World Oceans Month with Release of New Beach Cleanup Guide

Local Non-Profit Aims to Amplify Impact by Inviting Corporate Bahamas to Take Action!

With the release of a new guide providing best-practices and tips to host effective beach cleanup events, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is encouraging local businesses to be responsible corporate citizens and embrace the important role they play in the sustainable future of our ocean.

World Oceans Day is recognised by the United Nations and organisations and individuals around the world on June 8th every year. Given that The Bahamas is 95% underwater, BREEF is celebrating the whole of June as World Oceans Month. 

Executive Director of BREEF, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert describes the annual celebration as “an internationally coordinated effort promoting the protection and restoration of the one shared ocean that connects us all.” 

The yearly observance, beginning in 2002 and officially recognised by the United Nations in 2009, unites individuals, governments, civic organisations, religious groups and businesses worldwide through thousands of in-person and virtual events organized across 140 countries throughout the globe. This year’s theme of  ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’ is especially relevant to The Bahamas as our primary industry, tourism, relies heavily on the ocean through beaches, seafood, snorkelling, yachting and more, along with the countless supporting jobs that go along with each. 

The head of the local marine-conservation non-profit indicated that this time each year her organization often receives requests by companies wishing to participate in coastal cleanup initiatives and to engage their staff in activities that help protect the ocean. “It is extremely encouraging to see businesses becoming more environmentally conscious and keen to take action. In these challenging times, there is no better place to be than outdoors and in the fresh air, or even better wearing a mask underwater!.” To facilitate this, BREEF has created an easy-to-use toolkit that businesses can use to organize their own events.

“Rather than facilitating one single cleanup, this year we decided to think out of the box and shift our focus to building capacity. We wanted to equip our partners with a simple but detailed guide that will help them to be successful” McKinney-Lambert continued.

The guide, which can be found on the BREEF’s website (breef.org) provides breakdowns for before, during and after cleanup events, important contact information for relevant agencies and data collection sheets that can be reported and input into a global database. The goal is that with multiple businesses conducting their own respective cleanup exercises throughout the month of June and beyond, the overall impact will be multiplied across the entire Bahamas.

BREEF is also offering companies planning on hostingbeach clean ups the opportunity to have a BREEF team member schedule time slots on the day to speak  with their groups on the importance of action to protect Bahamian marine life and how both the business and its team members can continue to do their part year-round.

With June 1st simultaneously serving as the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season and initial projections forecasting an active season ahead, the BREEF executive felt there was no better time to release the publication. “Our coral reefs serve as the first line of defense during major storms, reducing wave energy by up to 97%. Human impacts like pollution are just one of several major threats wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems worldwide. With this new guide we really hope to maximize our reach and see an increase in the number of cleanups, no matter how big or small.”

The non-profit foundation will also be hosting a public cleanup and snorkel event at 10AM on Saturday, 12 June at Saunders Beach for interested individuals, small groups and families to attend.

Organizations wishing to coordinate their upcoming cleanup events with BREEF can get in contact by calling (242) 327-9000 or by emailing breef@breef.org.

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Media Contact
Casuarina McKinney-Lambert
Executive Director
Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF)
Tel: (242) 327-9000
Email: breef@breef.org
Web: www.breef.org

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World Biodiversity Day

Biodiversity is integral to our coral reef and mangrove ecosystems. In celebration of #WorldBiodiversity day we are highlighting the importance of biodiversity of our Bahamian coral reefs. Coral reefs are teeming with a variety of species that help keep this ecosystem balanced and healthy.

Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life. Coral reefs provide protection from storms, and generate income for tourism and fisheries.  The Bahamas is home to 35% of all coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Coral Reefs are under threat from human impacts such as climate change, pollution, invasive species, coastal development and overfishing. 80% of live corals have died in the last 50 years. BREEF works to protect coral reefs through restoration, education and by influencing policy.

To learn more about the abundant biodiversity below the surface check out BREEF’s Virtual Coral Reef Field trip.

Check out this sneak preview of the BREEF Virtual Coral Reef Field Trip!

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BREEF Announces the Winner for the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition.

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is proud to announce

Eliana Bowe, age 11 from St John’s College is the winner of the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) National Competition. 

The winning photo entry “Is it better in The Bahamas?“ calls attention to one of the leading threats to coral reefs, pollution. Ms. Bowe captures a current photo of land-based garbage just footsteps away from the shoreline. 

Ms. Bowe received a brand-new GoPro HD camera gifted by BREEF to support her future in

environmental reporting. She will now represent The Bahamas in the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment International Competition hosted by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE). 

BREEF commends all of the YRE participants for submitting their articles and photos. Entries focused on various real-time issues such as the effects of climate change in The Bahamas, biodiversity loss, and pollution. 

The YRE Programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental

issues they feel strongly about. It gives them a platform to call attention to these issues through

writing, photography, or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries

across the world.

Speaking on behalf of the YRE programme in The Bahamas, Allison Longley, National Operator for the Young Reporters for the Environment, said, “ The YRE programme allows a platform for young people to give nature a voice in such a fun and creative way. The YRE National Competition is the pinnacle of the programme however throughout the year students have an opportunity to connect with the marine environment first-hand through snorkel field trips and mangrove walkabouts. 

When asked what motivates her to protect nature, Eliana Bowe stated, “ I love my country and its beautiful water. It’s important to take care of our marine environment. I am passionate about the ocean because I don’t want to see the fish go extinct.”

The Young Reporters for the Environment programme was launched in The Bahamas with the support of a grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. Additional support has been provided by Rolex and Lombard Odier & CIE (Bahamas) LTD to enable children around The Bahamas to get involved with the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and take part in the international competition. 

To learn more about the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and how you can get involved, please visit www.breef.org.

Photo 1; Eliana Bowe’s winning  photo entry focuses on pollution.  

Photo 2; Eliana Bowe, age 11, St. John’s College winner of the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition.  

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Young People Dove into a BREEF Community Snorkel Event to Celebrate Easter and Earth Day

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation ( BREEF) kicked off Earth Week by hosting a Snorkel and Underwater Cleanup this past Saturday April 16, 2022 at Saunders Beach.

During the event participants learned about fish identification, threats to coral reefs and how to snorkel for the very first time.

Allison Longley, BREEF’s Outreach and Education Officer stated, “ Earth Day is a wonderful reminder for everyone to take a moment and appreciate the beauty of The Bahamas, in particular the coral reefs and the many things that they do to sustain our way of life. It’s vital that we connect our youth first-hand to the marine environment so they too can understand the importance of protecting the coral reefs that protect us.”

Heather Brockbank, a BREEF intern in the Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars (BESS) programme, supported the event and stated, “Having the opportunity to indulge in marine ecosystems and help guide the youth to see the wonders of the underwater world is a rewarding experience for all and helps to bring knowledge and joy of marine ecosystems to the community as a whole”.

This event was a part of  BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) programme.

To learn more about how you can get involved and participate in the next upcoming event please visit www.breef.org.

Photo 1; Heather Brockbank, BREEF intern and BESS Scholar teaching snorkelers about fish identification. 

Photo 2; Snorkelers enjoying the event.

Photo 3; Snorkelers taking action to combat plastic pollution by cleaning up garbage from the ocean. 

Check out our ZNS News Coverage!

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BREEF Launches electric vehicle-powered “Mobile Outdoor Classroom” Experience

9 FEB 2022

A “Mobile Outdoor Classroom” on board a brand-new fully electric vehicle was launched on Wednesday February 9th, by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) as part of their ongoing efforts to make marine environmental education safe, fun and engaging.  

The electric outdoor classroom vehicle, soon to be outfitted with solar panels, was donated to BREEF through a strategic grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio welcomed the initiative as a groundbreaking and positive development for amplifying messages on the environment and integrating the population into sustainable development efforts. “I congratulate BREEF for acquiring a sustainable mode of transportation using sustainable energy resources to reinforce public education related specifically to marine conservation and biodiversity and renewable energy. I am encouraged by the role of young people in this effort and encourage them to remain vocal and creative in advocating for change that matters,” she said. 

Educational resources on marine biodiversity and conservation, renewable energy and sustainable development will be delivered aboard the mobile classroom to local schools and field study sites across New Providence, through BREEF’s “Young Reporters for the Environment: Giving our Marine Environment a Voice” project, also funded through the GEF SGP/UNDP grant.

BREEF Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert acknowledged the support and stated: “As an archipelago, The Bahamas is dependent on a healthy ocean that sustains lives and livelihoods. BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment helps inspire young people to become active stewards of the waters around us and active participants in the sustainable Blue Economy. This new electric vehicle allows us to not only take students to the ocean, but bring the ocean to students.“ 

During a launch event at Delaporte Beach executed as a fresh air classroom session, discussions on Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Coral Reefs were led by the BREEF joined by students from the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and executives from UNDP/GEF SGP. Students learned more about the importance of preserving and protecting the marine environment to include the need to shift towards more sustainable development and renewable energy. 

Speaking on behalf of the Young Reporters for the Environment, National Operator, Allison Longley noted that

“87 percent of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels. It is important for small island nations like The Bahamas to make the shift towards alternative energy sources to help mitigate the ongoing global climate crisis.” 

BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment programme in The Bahamas, is designed to empower young people to effectively communicate about environmental issues and give the ocean a voice. 

During the outdoor classroom session students were asked what motivates them to protect our marine environment.

Makhi Gray, age 9, responded “I love the water and seeing all the fish, I don’t want to see them going extinct. Fish are important too; they keep our coral reefs healthy by cleaning the algae off of them.”

The debut of the electric vehicle classroom further empowers the young people to make learning about solar energy more fun and support the nation’s goals to embrace alternative energy sources. 

The Bahamas has pledged to “fully embrace” the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to include the nation’s Energy policy to derive 30% of energy needs from renewable sources.

Students interested in learning more about The Young Reporters for the Environment Programme and how to register can call BREEF’s office at 242-327-9000 or email breef@breef.org 

Photo 1: Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative ( Right) passing the keys to the electric vehicle to Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF Executive Director. Electric Vehicle donated to BREEF through a strategic grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Photo 2; Group photo of BREEF officials with some of the students that attend the Outdoor Classroom experience. 

Photo 3;  (Left to Right) Deon Stewart  Global Environment Facility National Coordinator, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert BREEF Executive Director, Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative, Allison Longley, Young Reporters for the Environment National Operator.

Photo 4; Bahamian Environmental Steward Scholar ( BESS) Abigail Rolle demonstrating to the class how to measure a Queen conch.

Check out our ZNS News Story !

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BREEF Partners with Children Around the World to Support 12 Abaco and Grand Bahama Eco-Schools

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is pleased to announce the disbursement of $6275.55 raised through a joint Children For Children Campaign with the Foundation For Environmental Education (FEE). The campaign was initiated in November 2019 in response to hurricane Dorian to support severely impacted Eco-Schools Bahamas students and teachers in Abaco and Grand Bahamas.

“Though born out of adversity, the Children for Children campaign united the global Eco-Schools network with the children of The Bahamas not only to show that they care but to lend their financial support to the ongoing recovery of children affected by Hurricane Dorian. We greatly appreciate the compassion of children around the world and their efforts to help children in The Bahamas recover
from Hurricane Dorian, ” says Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of BREEF.

During the campaign, BREEF and FEE mobilized their global network of 70 countries and 19.5 million children to unite children from around the world to promote empathy for affected Bahamian children, raise awareness of Climate Change, provide education on disaster resilience, and organize support in cash for the replacement of educational resources and materials for the 12 affected Eco-Schools in
Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Students from an Eco-School in Spain and the Czech Republic made videos that were shared on the Young /reporters for the Environment (YRE) social media platforms. Students from the Escola da Colina Educação Infantil e Ensino Fundamental in Brazil made and sold handicrafts to raise money for the Children for Children Campaign. At Escola Básica e Secundária Dr. Serafim Leite in Portugal,
students designed pencils, pins and bracelets that were sold as part of the fundraising in a combined Children for Children campaign that raised money for schools in Angola and The Bahamas. And, during the 2020-21 school year, the Wilhelm Bracke Comprehensive School in Germany held virtual sponsored fun-runs to raise money for the campaign.

The Abaco schools in the Eco-Schools Programme are Every Child Counts, Forest Heights Academy, Hope Town Primary School, Man-O-War Primary School, S.C. Bootle High School, Patrick J. Bethel High School, and Central Abaco Primary School. The Grand Bahama Eco-Schools include Bishop Michael Eldon School, Freeport Gospel Chapel School, Holmes Rock Primary School, Hugh Campbell Primary School, and Lucaya International School.

Cheques in the amount of $522.96 for each of the twelve Schools in BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas programme were presented by Eco-Schools Bahamas Steering Committee members, Ms. Olethea Gardiner of Keep Grand Bahama Clean, and Ms. Lianna Burrows of Abacos’ Friends of the Environment on behalf of BREEF.

Accepting on behalf of Lucaya International School, head girl Amelia Baptista said, “ I’m overjoyed, we’re blessed to be here to accept this donation. I think it’s going to be an incredible bolster for the plans that I know we already have but have been a little hesitant to put in motion for fear of lack of support.”

Forest Heights Academy’s principal, Jim Richards said, “THANK YOU for your support of FHA and our rebuild post-Dorian and we are truly appreciative!” According to Olethea Gardiner, Co-Chair of Keep Grand Bahama Clean, “ We know that it’s been hard. We know that schools would have lost a lot of their environmental resources that they worked so hard for, especially schools that would have already gone so far within their action plans and now have to rebuild. Every little dollar helps. So, this is just a token from schools around the world.

”BREEF is the official representative for the Foundation for Environmental Education in The Bahamas and has been running the Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme since 2009, inspiring Bahamian students towards excellence in environmental stewardship by promoting actions for creating a more sustainable world.

BREEF is a non-governmental, nonprofit Bahamian foundation concerned with educating our people about the value of and need for conserving our marine environment.  BREEF promotes the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment that sustains our way of life.

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Youth in Action, Experiences from the Small Grants Programme.

BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment programme (YRE) and The Bahamas gains global recognition in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNDP publication highlighting youth led projects.

With SGP support, more than 60 students and youth were provided with opportunities to participate in field studies, national awareness competitions and photojournalism classes. The YRE programme allowed many students across the islands to go scuba diving and snorkeling to see coral reefs and experience the underwater marine environment for the first time. Through the programme, students were able to participate in national and international conferences, publish articles on marine issues in national newspapers and conduct interviews with local media. BREEF plans to expand these opportunities to more students on the outer islands and offer more frequent capacity building and training sessions.

“Through YRE’s extensive platform, my peers and I have definitely gained an acute awareness on protecting our ecosystems and the species in our native land. I have learnt so much from BREEF – from the significance of coral reefs to the ways I can help promote sustainability and conservation of our environment. These experiences opened new doors for me and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in BREEF events.” – Kaitlyn Archer, Young Reporter for the Environment student. 

Kaitlyn Archer, St Anne’s School interview with ZNS about the importance of preserving and protecting coral reefs.

To learn more about BREEF’s YRE programme visit https://breef.org/index.php/what-we-do/youth-environmental-education/yre/  

 @YREInt @YRE @gef #yre #breef242 #youthmatter242#oceanconservation #givenatureavoice  #FEE #YREInt #youngreporters #yrecompetition #communityactiondays

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