ReefCI and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have recently partnered up to target primary level schools around Punta Gorda Town. Our focus is Educational Outreach/Programs on environmental issues affecting freshwater sheds and the Marine Coral Reef Ecosystem.
The initial objective is to focus on garbage disposal and recycling. Through this initiative, Ms. Emi Yamaguchi (JICA) and myself, Mr. Jason Guy (Marine Biologist), are collaborating with the Punta Gorda Town Council, Solid Waste
Management Authority and the Department of the Environment. Our aim is to educate and get students actively involved in the intended objective of proper garbage disposal, recycling and on solid waste management on a whole.
The first joint presentation was conducted on Wednesday March 5th at the PG Methodist School. Belize is celebrating Reef Week this week and the theme is “Our food; our jobs; our pride and joy: our reef!”
Ms. Emi started the presentation by formally introducing me to the students and class teacher – Mr. Gareth Sutherland. The interactive presentation started off by giving a brief history of ReefCI and the work we do. From the onset of the presentation, you can see that the students were ready to listen and had tons of questions. One of the things that interested me the most was when I asked the question “Anybody know what ReefCI does?”, and one student quickly raised his hands and answered loudly “saving things out in the sea”. It seems like they know so much! They continued answering questions about the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve and the importance of the coral reef ecosystem. Pointing out the importance and benefits of the coral reef, the harsh reality had to be discussed about the threats affecting the coral reef system and how we (humans) are a huge contributor to that. The students were very well aware of the threats affecting the coral reef system but it was very interesting to know how they link the invasive lionfish as a part of the threat. I then gave a brief description of the lionfish and where it came from and its effect and how ReefCI is trying to decrease the population.
Due to the time factor (45 minute only) the presentation had to be cut short and ended by showing photos collected by ReefCI for educational purposes. The students were very thankful for the presentation and are anticipating future presentations. Moreover, they didn’t want me to leave. We stayed an additional half hour inside the class room discussing even though the buzzer rang for dismissal of classes for the day.
On behalf of ReefCI, I would like to give a huge thank you to Emi (JICA) and the administrative staff of the Punta Gorda Methodist School for welcoming us to their school. ReefCI will continue school visits to St. Benedicts Primary School, Seven Days Adventist Primary School, and Cattle Landing Primary School and guess what? I can’t wait!!!