Left to Right - Trevor Johnson, Kristonn Stubbs, Waysha McKinney & Chantal Curtis.
THE Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) has achieved its goal to provide marine conservation training to a teacher in every school across the archipelago.
Each summer since 1995, educators from across the country have had a chance to get first-hand experience in marine conservation at the BREEF Marine Conservation Teacher Training Workshop at the Gerace Research Centre on San Salvador.
In a statement yesterday, the foundation proudly declared: "Mission accomplished!"
Immersed in experiential education, including snorkeling beautiful coral reefs and mangroves creeks, and building curriculum connections, the programme allows educators to more effectively engage and inspire their students.
Over 600 educators have now returned to their islands and schools to share this practical experience in conservation education with their students and colleagues
Eight Mile Rock High School teacher Trevor Johnson Jr, a 2017 participant, said: "I had to teach my 10th graders on the various ecosystems in The Bahamas. I did my best based on researched content and textbook materials, however, after completing this workshop, I felt so much more connected to the content now that I have experienced each ecosystem.
"I wished I had completed this workshop before I began teaching," he said.
The summer 2017 workshop was attended by 25 educators from around The Bahamas.
During the workshop, they got to explore rocky shores, did a beach cleanup, and examined the stomach content of an albatross to see the impact plastics can have on marine life. All of the activities carried out at the workshop were aimed at providing teachers with various ways to get their students interested in the marine environment.
Tedniqua Arthur, a 2017 participant and teacher from Abaco's S.C. Bootle High School, said: "I've learned how to identify common fishes found in our waters. I also learned about Marine Protected Areas and how we, the citizens of this country, play a vital role in protecting our natural resources. Because of this workshop I've learned about different engaging activities I can use inside my classroom."
BREEFs mission of promoting the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment that sustains our way of life, is the driving force behind these workshops. Many teachers who've completed the workshop over the past 20 years have become leaders in getting their communities more involved with marine protection and conservation.
Christine Brown, 2016 participant and principal at San Salvador Primary, said: "The workshop inspired me to become more active in conservation locally. I worked with my teachers, students and the community in Man-O-War Cay to make our school an eco-schools green flag school.
"Now that I'm in San Salvador," she said, "it's almost like I've gone full circle, I'm back where my love of marine protection and conservation began so I'll definitely get my students out exploring their beautiful natural environment."
In addition to hosting the Marine Conservation Teacher Training Workshops, BREEF also provides teachers around The Bahamas with follow-up classroom educational materials, outdoor field trips for students and in class presentations, all focused on the marine environment.
BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert added: "At BREEF, we know that our teachers have a great influence over the next generation of Bahamian decision makers. We want to ensure that these educators are able to get their students excited about protecting their natural surroundings and fully engaged in hand-on learning."