Sandals Foundation and Bahamas National Trust Empower Environmental Leaders
Having successfully completed another year of developing young environmental stewards through the Discovery Club, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) partnered with the Sandals Foundation to prepare its leaders for the future. Representing over 70 Discovery Club units across The Bahamas, these leaders met last week at the annual BNT Discovery Club Leaders’ Symposium to renew their knowledge of the program.
The week-long leadership summit, which began on Monday July 29th, trained 100 adult participants in areas such as marine and terrestrial ecosystems conservation, waste management, nature photography, bee keeping, aquaponics and organism identification, which they will implement with over 1300 Bahamian students in the upcoming school year.
“The 2019 Discovery Club Symposium was one of the most successful conferences we have had to date,” said BNT Education Director, Portia Sweeting. “This is due greatly to Sandals Foundation’s contribution and active engagement with the program. Through their support, we were able to transport new and returning leaders from every major island in The Bahamas, host the event, procure materials and execute field trips.”
According to the Sandals Foundation Environmental Officer, Bianca Young, the organization’s support of the BNT Discovery Club is a key part of its promise to the Caribbean. “Sandals Foundation has pledged to increase our impact in environmental conservation, and what better way to do so than by supporting the development of these teachers, parents and volunteers who will in turn inspire the Bahamian youth to protect the environment. Sandals Foundation has supported this Symposium for the second year, and this time we were delighted to also be able to help celebrate the top environmental mentors in the program.
Ten (10) “Trendsetters” were recognized for their outstanding efforts during the school year, when they led their clubs to institute projects that address the environmental problems their communities and schools face.
The symposium culminated in a camping expedition and wilderness course on Rose Island, where members of the Bahamas Defense Force coached the leaders in essential skills such as navigation, starting fires, foraging for food and building makeshift shelters. Camping and other outdoor experiences are an integral part of the Discover Club program, which delivers a mix of in-class and field studies for three age-dependent levels, Explorers (7 – 9 years), Guardians (10 – 12 years) and Navigators (13 years and older).
Reflecting on the experience, Shanell Woods of East End Primary School, Grand Bahama said “As a new leader of the Discovery Club, I found the Symposium very educational. What we learned – first aid, survival skills on land and sea, knowledge of plant and animal life, and the old Bahamian way of doing things – is beneficial for the survival and lifestyle of all Bahamians.”