The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently announced the rollout of its Navigator youth environmental education program on Grand Bahama. Over the past three years the BNT has engaged in a strong partnership with the Grand Bahama Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) Rangers, and the Navigator program is the latest addition to strengthen the already existing connection between these two organisations.
“The Navigators program is a wonderful opportunity for children that are interested in marine science or for those who love nature,” said Cheri Wood, BNT Grand Bahama Outreach Officer, who leads the program. “The curriculum goes way beyond a classroom experience by offering hands-on activities, open discussions and field trips that all complement each other. For the Rangers the program makes perfect sense because it teaches the teenagers about the delicate balance of the natural environment of The Bahamas and why it is important to protect it.”
Ranging from age 13 to 18 years, current participants attend St. Georges High School, Jack Hayward Jr. and Sr. High Schools, Eight Mile Rock High School, Bishop Michael Eldon High School and Sister Mary Patricia. Usually conducted at school level as an extracurricular science-based club, Grand Bahama is the first island to offer this program to a community group of youths from different schools. COB will be assisting with the facilitation of sessions, and eco-tour operators Calabash Eco Adventures, Blue Green Nature Tours and independent operator Shylock Edwards will also assist with field trips.
The Navigator program fosters leadership, curiosity, appreciation for the natural environment, entrepreneurship, responsibility and teamwork. The Navigator learning sessions engage children in research based activities such as collecting data and samples, analyzing data through scientific methods and identifying different plant and animal species.
Recently Ms. Wood spoke to Rotary Club of Grand Bahama Sunrise about the program and noted, “The program will offer internationally recognised certificates. The first year, skin diving certification, a prerequisite for PADI SCUBA open water certification the following year, and then third year an AGRRA coral reef health assessment certification.”
The Navigator program is partially funded by The BNT and supplemented by a nominal registration fee for the participants and donations from the local community. Sponsorship from local businesses and partners are vital for programs like these to continue. If you would like more information on the Navigator program or have your school participate please contact Cheri Wood at the Bahama National Trust or via their website www.bnt.bs.