Tuesday, Jun 18th

LATEST:
You are here: Supplements Weekender Do jellyfish poop?

Best_of_2015_587x57_Results

Do jellyfish poop?

EPIC’s Environmental Education Program

 

By Laura Bijnsdorp

 

In November 2014, I was hired to run the Environmental Education (EE) Program for Environmental Protection In the Caribbean (EPIC). Growing up, I had volunteered with the various environmental foundations on St. Maarten including Caribbean Foundation for Sustainability, PRIDE, St. Maarten Nature Foundation and EPIC. It is an understatement to say that these foundations are conducting much needed work on the island, and I was excited to have the opportunity to be part of their efforts on a daily basis.

 

EPIC’s annual EE program offers free educational presentations for schools, clubs and community groups. EPIC officially started its EE program in 2007, which was led by Rueben Thompson with support from various international volunteers since.

 

EPIC’s educational presentations and excursions cover a number of topics, including St. Maarten’s biodiversity, environmental challenges, waste management and the wildlife and ecology of St. Maarten's wetlands. We also encourage interested groups to make specific topic requests so that our program fits into their curriculum or the specific needs of the participants. This year, two recurring requested topics were global warming and information on sargasso seaweed. Together with Binkie van Es, we also conducted a workshop for teachers on using birding in schools.

 

THERE ARE MANY reasons that EE should be implemented more in our schools and community. EE connects us to the world around us, teaching us about both natural and built environments. It raises awareness of issues impacting the environment upon which we all depend, as well as actions we can take to improve and sustain it.

 

EE helps people see how social, ecological, economic, cultural, and political issues are all connected. It encourages students to figure out the different sides to an issue to understand the full picture. This promotes tolerance of different points of view and different cultures. We encourage students to ask questions and investigate, thereby enhancing critical and creative thinking skills.

 

EE also is easy to incorporate into other subjects such as science, math, language arts and history. It often makes the subject more hands-on and shows how they can be used in everyday scenarios.

 

MANY OF OUR educational activities get students outside and active. This is another benefit that I have personally found very important. During our EE excursions, we expose students to nature and allow them to learn and play outside. I have noticed such excitement and surprise from students that I take to beaches, ponds or forest areas. Going for walks through valleys, hikes in the hillsides, a swim at various beaches and camping out in remote areas were a given in my family. But for many other families, it’s not. Not everyone takes the time or has the opportunity to experience nature. These excursions foster sensitivity, appreciation and respect for the environment.

 

It’s promising to see that during the programs, most participants are interested and engaged. Though there are also always a few who are harder to reach and make me wonder: “How can I make you care?”

 

THAT IS WHY I think EE is so important. It makes people care more. It is hard to care about something if you don’t know its value. If I don’t know why plastic bags are detrimental to my environment, then why shouldn’t I throw them out of my car window? Yet, if I get the proper information, I might change my mind about doing that again.

 

For example, we might teach that items like plastic packaging, bags and bottles are thrown away every day and end up in trash sites as well as in forests, creeks, rivers, seas and oceans around the world. First, these are an eyesore and not a good image for a tourism-run country such as St. Maarten. Second, plastic is not biodegradable. In reality, most plastic does not ever disappear, but becomes long-lasting "plastic dust".

 

When items like plastic bags break down, they readily soak up and release toxins that then contaminate soil and water, as well as harming animals that ingest plastic fragments. Every square mile of ocean has an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it. That is why over a million sea birds, whales, seals, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine creatures die from plastic debris that ends up in our oceans.

 

If you know this, how you throw away a plastic bag all of a sudden has more weight, you realize its value and impact. The logical thing then is that you will reduce, reuse and make sure that plastic bag is disposed of properly or not use it in the first place.

 

MOST ENCOURAGING is to notice that after many of my EE presentations, students themselves take initiative and ask how they can take action to improve the environment in their own community. It shows them that they also are responsible for their surroundings, have a voice and can make a difference.

 

We offer our programs to all ages. The youngest age group I taught this school year was five-year-olds. You might think that is too young, but it isn’t. We watched an informational video on recycling, did games in which teams had to race to sort various trash kinds of, and made drawings and coloured pictures on the same theme. It is amazing what kids can absorb! What I enjoy most about teaching students is their complete lack of inhibition. They will tell and ask you anything.

 

They tell bad, good, sad and funny stories about their parents throwing their trash out of the car, about the fact that they are going to be environmental superheroes, about the time that they found a bird and tried to help it before it died, about their grandmother who kicked someone for throwing a plastic plate on the ground.

 

AND THEY ASK cute questions: “Are there tigers in this forest? Do jellyfish poop? Why are the birds hiding in the trees?” And ask questions that we as adults don’t seem to ask enough: “Why can’t we swim in our ponds anymore? Why do people litter if it kills our animals? If environment is so important to us, why don’t we take care of it?”

 

My response: “Why don’t you take the first step?” Environmental Education programs don’t just educate, they shape people that will take action, influence change and make the world a better place. On an island where it is obvious that protecting our natural environment has not been made a priority, environmental education plays a key part in changing this.

 

Though the program has come to an end for this school year, EPIC is seeking funding to continue offering this service. Schools and other interested parties can sign up for the program, which starts again in September. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or surf to www.epicislands.com and facebook.com/epicislands.

 

Image
St. Maarten midday Weather Forecast for Saturday
Saturday, 17 October 2015
DATE ISSUED: Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 12:00 LST (16:00 UTC) VALID UNTIL: Sunday midday (12:00... Read more...
Image
SHTA poll: Businesses want anti-ship-jumping legislation
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Click here for SHTA graph pdf PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association... Read more...
Image
Dominica’s tourism sector ready to welcome visitors after TS Erika
Friday, 16 October 2015
ROSEAU, Dominica--“Dominica is open for business and ready to welcome visitors to its shores.”... Read more...
Image
Reparations Committee: Withdraw Queens’ names from Suriname’s highest mountains
Thursday, 15 October 2015
PARAMARIBO--Suriname’s National Reparations Committee NRCS has filed a request with President... Read more...
Image
Ex-US House Speaker Hastert to plead guilty in hush-money case
Friday, 16 October 2015
CHICAGO--Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is expected to plead guilty in a hush-money case... Read more...
Image
Hillary Clinton to 'look hard' at Julian Castro as possible VP pick
Friday, 16 October 2015
WASHINGTON--Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton won the backing of Housing and Urban... Read more...
Image
Half a million Yemen children face severe malnutrition
Friday, 16 October 2015
GENEVA--More than half a million children in Yemen face life-threatening malnutrition as a risk of... Read more...
Image
Modi to open 70-year-old files in challenge to Gandhi dynasty
Friday, 16 October 2015
NEW DELHI--Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will seek to unravel one of India's most enduring... Read more...
Image
Cuba in cash crunch due to low commodity prices, Venezuela woes
Friday, 16 October 2015
HAVANA--Low commodity prices, a drought at home and Venezuela's economic crisis have created a cash... Read more...
Image
Apple's newest courtroom foe is patent-savvy university
Friday, 16 October 2015
NEW YORK--As a veteran of the global smart phone wars, Apple is used to courtroom battles with... Read more...
Image
Focus needs to be on fighting crime & helping unemployed
Friday, 16 October 2015
Dear Editor, With all of the political situation on the island, we can't lose focus on some of the... Read more...
Image
Had enough
Friday, 16 October 2015
Dear Queenie, My brother died years ago but his widow stayed close to our family. Eventually she... Read more...
Image
RBC St. Maarten Little League School Tournament
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Sister Marie Laurence defeated Leonald Conner in the RBC St. Maarten Little League School... Read more...
Image
Nadal trounces Wawrinka, Djokovic tames Tomic
Friday, 16 October 2015
CHINA-- Former world number one Rafa Nadal displayed more signs of a return to top form with a... Read more...
Image
Junk shop photo spurs quest to confirm Billy the Kid image
Friday, 16 October 2015
DENVER--For the $2 he spent to buy three old photographs, Randy Guijarro may have hit the mother... Read more...
Image
Few signs of improvement for NBA star Odom after collapse
Friday, 16 October 2015
LAS VEGAS--Pro basketball and reality TV star Lamar Odom spent a third day hospitalized on... Read more...
Image
Bruney cruises into retirement
Friday, 16 October 2015
~ After three decade in cruise industry ~   By Alita Singh   Frank Bruney has seen tiny... Read more...
Image
ALL HANDS ON DECK, WE MADE IT!
Friday, 16 October 2015
~ Fair Transport Sailing Vessel Nordlys is launched ~   St. Maarten has been graced by the... Read more...
Editorial - Anybody’s guess
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Governor Eugene Holiday has decided to seek legal clarity on the current constitutional impasse.... Read more...
Editorial - Time is up
Friday, 16 October 2015
With so much ongoing constitutional turmoil, the fact that more than 100 people attended the... Read more...
Image
Saturday Oct. 17, 2015
Friday, 16 October 2015
Image
Friday Oct. 16, 2015
Friday, 16 October 2015
Notices October 16
Friday, 16 October 2015
General Meeting St. Maarten Professional Softball Association (SMPSA) general meeting for the... Read more...
Notices October 15
Thursday, 15 October 2015
General Meeting S.M.P.S.A. general meeting for the softball season 2016 will be held at Sundial... Read more...