My name is Gayle Burrows, an 18 year old Environmental activist and one of the 2022-2023 BREEF Bahamas Environmental Steward scholars. This program assists young Bahamians in learning about how to conserve the marine and coastal environment around them. Living in The Bahamas for most of my life, I have gotten to experience the changes and the new infrastructure that has been implemented every few years or so. Although industrialization is key to the tourism industry that our country thrives off of, it is extremely detrimental to our mangroves and to our wetland ecosystems.
Due to this there is a direct correlation to where mangrove wetlands used to be flourishing and where communities and institutions now stand that experience increased flooding events due to reduced coastline protection. There then is the never ending complaint of “why is there so much flooding in this area?”. After many researchers studied, they all concluded the removal of these wetlands also hinders the natural protection that wetlands offer from natural disasters, such as hurricanes, with which The Bahamas is very familiar.
Additionally, when wetlands such as these are removed to make way for construction fish populations our economy and subsistence fishermen rely on decline significantly. Many juvenile fish species, such as snappers, bonefish, barracudas, etc., rely on mangroves in their early stages of life.
So when will enough be enough? When will the government realize that wetlands are needed not only to protect Bahamians but to protect our land, our home? Nothing will change if people are not bold enough to speak up and address these problems. I encourage young people and persons of all ages to speak out and continue to educate themselves about our environment in an effort to build a better Bahamas for all of us.
Photo 1: Man-O-War Primary School, Abaco, 5th Green Flag
BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas (ESB) National Operator, Kevin Glinton, travelled to Abaco and Grand Bahama last week to resume onsite ESB Green Flag renewal assessments of the Eco-Schools programme. Abaco’s Every Child Counts, Forest Heights Academy, Hope Town Primary School, Man-O-War Primary School, Freeport’s Bishop Michael Eldon School, and Lucaya International School were all successful in renewing their Green Flag status.
The Eco-Schools Green Flag is recognized globally as a symbol of excellence for environmental education and practice and is renewed every two years.
Photo 1: Man-O-War Primary School Grade 3 student Titus Reckley proudly displaying a recycle bottle cap collected during the Global Action Week scavenger hunt and the nature walk.
ESB National Steering Committee members Nakira Wilchombe, and Rashema Ingraham of Keep Grand Bahama Clean conducted assessments in Grand Bahama. And Lianna Burrows and Lyndeisha Curry of Abacos’ Friends of the Environment evaluated schools in the Abacos.
According to Man -O-War Primary School 8-year-old Grade 3 student, Titus Reckley, “I feel great because this is my first time being here to receive a Green Flag. We worked hard to achieve our 5th Green Flag. Eco Club has helped me learn to care for my environment and taught me how to plant seeds. Eco Club has been very helpful for my peers, and I enjoy the Eco Schools Programme. I can’t wait to start new projects!”
“It’s a perfect example that small numbers can still do great things and benefit a community. I’m extremely proud of our small school on Man-O-War Cay making a difference internationally. I like that it instils the importance, understanding, and skills in sustainability- especially growing your own natural foods,” said Mrs. Charmaine Albury, Teacher, and Eco-Committee Member.
“This programme has allowed students, staff and community to increase their love for the environment and be more aware of their actions.” – Miss Tanesha Saunders, Man-O-War Primary
Accepting the award on behalf of her school and community, Mrs. Deborah Clarke, Man-O-War Primary’s Principal stated, “The children’s commitment to reducing waste, conserving energy, and practices promoting healthy living is commendable. ‘Let’s Go Green Bahamas!’ The changes that are made today will make a better Bahamas for us tomorrow.”
Photo 2: Every Child Counts, 5th Green Flag
Ms. Ellen Hardy, Eco-Schools Coordinator at Every Child Counts, said, “Environmental education is the key to success. Once we established our Action Plan, we were able to involve all the students and teachers in reaching our goals making this a school wide project. Qualifying for our 5th Green Flag is something all of us at ECC are very proud of.”
Elated Intermediate ECC ECO Committee member, Raymond said. “The Green Flag reminds me of green smoothies. It means the drink is healthy. The Green Flag means a healthy school.”
Photo 3: Hope Town Primary School proudly display their 6th consecutive Green Flag
In additional to being awarded its sixth consecutive Green Flag award, Hope Town Primary School received the Eco-Schools Bahamas Certificate of Merit for “For outstanding contribution to the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme, achieving six consecutive Green Flag awards, and showing commitment towards Excellence in Environmental Education and Environmental Stewardship in the school and the wider community.”
Photo 4: Forest Heights Academy’s 5th Green Flag
During their rebuilding after hurricane Dorian, Forest Heights Academy included the installation of solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels. Rotchenska Alexie, FHA grade 11 student, and Eco-club vice president said, “I joined Eco Club at my school so I could help inspire children to engage in important environmental projects and activities.” According to Mrs. Lindsey Rees, FHA Eco-club coordinator, “In the reopening and rebuilding of FHA this year, I am thrilled that in our projects we achieved our 5th Green Flag. It’s wonderful to see the Green Flag fly again to serve as a reminder to the students to carry out the values and eco-practices we try to implement.”
Reflecting on BREEF’s 30th anniversary this year, and ESB programme’s contribution to BREEF’s mission, Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, said, “These young people are an inspiration to others around the country and around the world as they embrace sustainability in our island nation and put their new-found knowledge into action to protect the land and the sea in their own communities.”
Photo 5: Lucaya International School
Photo 6: Bishop Michael Eldon School
Rihanna Smith, Grade 12, Bishop Michael Eldon School stated, “Being a member of the Eco-Schools program has helped me to gain a better understanding on environmental issues and creating innovative solutions for them. The renewal of my school’s green flag validates our commitment and work and motivates me to continue to pursue change in my nation.”
“Achieving the Green flag status is both an honour and a privilege to us as a school. It strengthens our commitment to provide our students an avenue to take an active role in protecting our environment,” said Mrs. Selim-Dela Peña, BMES, Eco-Schools coordinator.
ESB National Operator, Kevin Glinton said, “I am extremely proud of all the Eco-Schools in Abaco and Grand Bahama for their outstanding resilience in sustaining the Eco-Schools programme despite the two major setbacks of the last three years; hurricane Dorian and the pandemic.”
To date, BREEF’s ESB network is spread over six islands and consists of 18 government and 25 private schools. Since 2009 the BREF has been running the ESB programme free of charge through the generous support of many BREEF donors including 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
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 email@example.com.
BREEF AND BAHWEN HOST 5-DAY MARINE CONSERVATION WORKSHOP
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) in partnership with The Bahamas Wildlife Enforcement Network (BahWEN) hosted a week-long Marine Conservation Workshop from the 26th to 30th September 2022, at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Base Coral Harbour.
The long-term objectives of the environmental education workshop are to promote collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement agencies and increase their awareness of the importance of conserving our Bahamian marine environment and its resources.
During the workshop fourteen participants from Bahamas Customs, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBDF), BahWEN, RBDF, the Department of Marine Resources (DMR), and the Bahamas National Trust engaged in a week of seminars and hands-on activities ranging from Marine Organism Identification training facilitated by the BREEF team, in-depth discussion of fisheries regulations and the science behind them, and a presentation on Open Drift & Oil Spill Modelling by Dr. Lars Hole, Senior Scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
“BREEF is pleased to partner with the RBDF and BahWEN to promote the conservation of the marine environment that sustains our way of life,” stated BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert “Knowledge is power, and we now have an interdisciplinary group of fourteen workshop participants from law enforcement, DMR, BNT, Customs, BahWEN who are empowered to share this information that they have gained with their colleagues and the public, and bring about change. Everyone has a role to play in conserving our environment and its natural resources.”
In his remarks on behalf of RBDF Commander, Commodore Dr. Raymond King, RBDF Base Coral Harbour Captain Glenn McPhee said, “I commend BREEF and BahWEN for organising this Marine Conservation Workshop, considering that marine conservation is perhaps one of the greatest scientific problems challenging the planet today. Fundamentally, how to ensure a sustainable future through the protection and preservation of healthy marine ecosystems. Hence, I am pleased to note that this workshop is consistent with Commander Defence Force’ strategic vision.”
Lieutenant Commander Desiree Corneille, Lead Designate for the Bahamas Wildlife Enforcement Network said, “Law enforcement agencies are assuming a greater responsibility in the protection of our resources and the environment than has ever been seen before in The Bahamas. A programme like MCW allows our interagency partners to train alongside NGOs like BREEF to establish law enforcement teams that are knowledgeable and competent in areas of conservation.”
Photo 2: DMR Assistant Fisheries Superintendent, Dana Culmer (Centre) receiving her certificate of participation.
Stanley Pitt, Force Chief Petty Officer (FCPO), BahWEN (1st Left), Kevin Glinton, Education Coordinator, BREEF (2n Left), Capt. Glen McPhee, HMBS Coral Harbour (2nd Right), and Master-at-Arms, FCPO Raymond Sands, (1st Right)
Photo 3: MCW Participants, Facilitators, Master-at-Arms, FCPO Raymond Sands (3 Right), and Capt. Glen McPhee of HMBS Coral (7 Right).
RBPF Chief Superintendent, Eugene Strachan commented, “It was informative and interactive, coupled with presenters who were passionate about their roles.”
According to BahWEN Petty Officer, Ricardo Cummings, “My confidence has increased tremendously in the identification of fish and marine organisms,”
Several in-water fieldwork experiences were postponed due to inclement weather and will be rescheduled.
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BREEF is pleased to have resumed its
week-long in-person law enforcement workshops with RBDF and BahWEN. This third workshop was made possible through the generous support of the Vibrant Oceans Initiative. To learn more about BREEF and its work in promoting the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment, please visit www.breef.org.
The YRE programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to call attention to these issues through the media of writing, photography, or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries across the world.
BREEF started implementing the YRE programme in 2019, making The Bahamas the first country in the Caribbean to offer the programme. Since then, students from all over the archipelago have participated in journalism and photography workshops, and snorkel field trips led by BREEF to the mangrove and coral reefs. They have also participated annually in the “Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition” submitting entries on local and global environmental issues.
“What motivates my friends and me to protect nature is sustaining it for future generations. Nature is often neglected by human beings in today’s world and now its survival is becoming such a vital aspect of life. We have to protect it!” -Kaitlyn Archer.
Photo 1. Young Reporter for the Environment student, Kaitlyn Archer, presenting to snorkelers about the importance of protecting our coral reefs.
Kaitlyn and her peers are participating in a youth-focused project with The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) aimed at increasing knowledge about marine ecosystems and the threats they face, including plastic pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.
The project was initially funded by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (SGP). Lombard Odier & Cie (Bahamas) Ltd is a key sponsor of the rapidly-growing programme.
“YRE is an amazing programme because it allows young people to utilize social media in an impactful way, expressing their concerns about the environment and proposing solutions. YRE teaches our youth how to communicate effectively by utilizing a cutting-edge approach to disseminate news.” Allison Longley, National Operator for YRE in The Bahamas.
Grand Bahama’s Bishop Michael Eldon School’s (BMES) Vertical Hydroponics Garden project was named as one of five global winners of the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE) GAIA 20:30 Biodiversity Campaign Best Practice Competition. Cyprus, Germany, India, and Spain were the other winners in the Biodiversity Campaign. The competition was organized by FEE’s Learning about Forest (LEAF) programme and was open to the entire FEE network, Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Green Key, Learning about Forest (LEAF), and Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE). The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is the official FEE representative for The Bahamas and manages the Eco-Schools Bahamas and Young Reporters for the Environment programmes.
Photo 1: BMES Vertical Hydroponics Garden
The GAIA 20:30 Biodiversity Campaign involves a set of activities targeted at different stakeholders to emphasize the importance of protecting global biodiversity and ecosystems and focuses on actions to protect global biodiversity. In the Best Practice Competition, Eco-Schools, LEAF, YRE schools, Blue Flag sites and Green Key establishments were invited to submit one project or story connected with the GAIA 20:30 biodiversity goals of preservation and ecosystem restoration.
“I am grateful for our BMES achievement. Thanks to the ever-supportive administration- Mrs. Sheryl Wood, our principal, and her team, all the organizations who have supported our school throughout these years in our journey as an Eco-school, GEF-SGP, Mr. Deon Stewart for assisting us with our grant, Keep Grand Bahama Clean-Mrs. Nakira Wilchcombe and her team, BREEF-Mr. Kevin Glinton, and his team. Special thank you to the Ministry of Agriculture-Ms. Jeri Kelly and her team, Ministry of Education-Mrs. Sheryl Bowe, and her team for providing us with our first set of hydroponics. Most importantly, the students who have tirelessly worked in the garden and were able to connect with nature during the pandemic. Above all, thank the Almighty God for his divine providence and protection,” said Mrs. Cheng Bee Selim-Dela Pena, BMES Eco-Schools Coordinator.
According to BMES Principal, Sheryl Wood, “We are so proud of her, the supporting teachers and the students who have persevered with these Eco-Schools projects. This one is big time! Thank you for the role you and BREEF played in making this possible,”.
Photo 2: BMES student examining hydroponics system growth
Speaking of local and global significance of BMES’ award, BREEF’s Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert stated, “Congratulations to these students from Grand Bahama and the other winners from around the world who developed great skills and knowledge on climate action and biodiversity conservation. Their work contributed to boosting biodiversity, raising awareness on ecosystem protection, and creating meaningful, long-lasting projects. Taking action for biodiversity is not only essential for sustaining healthy natural areas, but also healthy communities.”
BMES student Trinity McIntosh stated, “The achievement is very important to the Eco-Schools Programme and me. This is because we’ve happily and diligently taken care of our hydroponics garden. Many of us gained the opportunity to not only practice but promote biodiversity within our school. Using all that we have learned, we can make a positive impact on our environment. This accomplishment is truly significant and encouraging.”
Hydroponics team member Jamia William said, “The achievement feels amazing. It’s an awesome feeling when something you put your all into gets recognized for something great. It also inspires us as a club to keep doing what we’re doing because our hard work is paying off and it motivates us to do better.”
According to BMES student Brianna Bowe, “Working with the hydroponics garden every single day brings me great joy to work with the plants and with my classmates. This great achievement means a lot to me and the rest of the team because it will help us to continue working with the hydroponics garden and it will also encourage others to join in on the action!”
Photo 3: BMES students maintaining their hydroponics system
Kevin Glinton, Eco-Schools Bahamas National Operator, expressing his gratitude to BMES for accepting the challenge, said, “The Bahamas is one of over 79 countries participating in FEE programmes. I am extremely proud of BMES and BREEF’s 39 other Eco-Schools in The Bahamas that continue to show the world that we take environmental stewardship seriously.”
Under the theme “Ocean Champions” the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation held yet another successful summer Sea Camp programme reaching over one hundred children on the islands of New Providence, Exuma, Eleuthera and Andros.
BREEF’s annual Sea Camp is an empowering, educational and fun experience that every child in The Bahamas should have at least once. The camp provides hands-on experiential learning for students, using the natural environment as a teaching tool, and engages campers in protecting our oceans and their resources. Sea Camp fosters a sense of appreciation for the Bahamian marine environment; it inspires campers to become environmental stewards while teaching them practical water skills to help them safely explore Bahamian marine coastal ecosystems.
“Observing the progress in their swimming ability throughout the camp and their enthusiasm while identifying fish and coral below the surface is truly a rewarding experience,” said Allison Longley, BREEF Outreach Officer, and Lead Camp Coordinator.
Dale Pinder, age 14, explains what motivates him to protect the marine environment, “Having the opportunity to experience the coral reefs during the BREEF camp has made me want to protect the environment even more so that the next generation can enjoy it.”
According to Leilah Mackey, age 9, “Overfishing and plastics in the water is harming fish and will make them go extinct. Turtles are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of plastics. I am motivated to educate people about how they can help so we can have fish for future generations.”
Ethan Cordona, age 11. “I have learned that many fish species are endangered, and so fish need more protection all around the world and not just here in The Bahamas.”
BREEF kicked off the summer of 2022 by hosting its Sea Camp programme in New Providence. During the camp, children experienced our marine environment by immersing themselves in the coral reef and mangrove ecosystems, which included a snorkel field trip to Bonefish Pond National Park, Saunders Beach, and Long Wharf Beach. For many campers, this was their very first time snorkeling. “Ocean Champions” were spotted on Saunders beach taking action and combatting plastic pollution by conducting a beach cleanup, collecting over 40lbs of garbage, and using some of it to create ocean conservation art.
“Leaving garbage on the ground leads to it ending up in our waters and harming our marine life. If we don’t take action to protect our marine life, they will die.” – Evante Haven, age 9.
Photo 1: Group photo of BREEF Sea Camp (Nassau) at Saunders Beach.
Photo 2: Snorkelers enjoying red mangroves and spotting juvenile fish at Bonefish Pond.
Photo 3: BREEF Sea Camper displaying his plastics pollution art project.
BREEF traveled to Georgetown, Exuma conducting a Sea Camp day experience full of ocean adventures in partnership with the British American Financial Group (BAF) camp. Campers learned more about our blue Bahamas through an interactive coral reef and fish identification presentation followed by a fun afternoon snorkeling session.
Photo 4: BREEF’s Sea Camp Coordinator, Allison Longley taking campers for a snorkel adventure.
Photo 5: Group photo of BAF Summer Camp during BREEF’s “One-Day Partner” experience.
Governors Harbour, Eleuthera
Next stop, Eleuthera! The highlight of this camp was a memorable snorkel trip to Twin Coves located in Governor’s Harbour. Throughout the week, campers learned about the importance of fisheries regulations, marine protected areas, and climate change. BREEF Sea Campers also had fun in the sun while learning about renewable energy by using a solar panel to collect and store energy and power various devices.
Photo 6: BREEF Sea Camper charging a battery with solar panels.
Photo 7: BREEF’s Sea Camp at Twin Coves, Eleuthera.
Photo 8: Campers snorkeling at Twin Coves, Eleuthera.
Photo 9: BREEF’s Sea Camp (Eleuthera) hosted by Haynes Library.
The final fun-filled Sea Camp took place at award-winning Kamalame Cay, where campers enjoyed the remarkable island off the north side of Andros. The Sea Camp had a diverse group of campers, including children from The Bahamas, the United States of America and Italy. It was a great experience for all to have such diverse backgrounds, but share a common ground—their enthusiasm for the water. Students had a fantastic time on the cay learning about the Bahamian marine environment, including mangroves and coral reefs.
Photo 10: Campers taking a closer look at invasive Lionfish.
Photo 11: Campers enjoying a fun boat ride to the Andros Great Barrier Reef.
Photo 12: Eleuthera Sea Camper experiencing the underwater world for the first time.
BREEF extends their gratitude to all of their partners who hosted camp to include, Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre, Haynes Library, Kamalame Cay, BAF Global Group Ltd and to all of the BREEF volunteers who assisted during the duration of the camp.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Contact Casuarina McKinney-Lambert Executive Director Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Tel: (242) 327-9000 Email: email@example.com Web: www.breef.org