Local students learn from leading scientists; effort is continuation of program dating back 30years aimed at promoting science, environmental protection and education in the BVI.
Photo Credit: Press Release
The fifteen members of the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) Environmental Club had the unique opportunity during their Mid-term break to visit Guana Island to learn from internationally renowned scientists who are on Guana conducting research.
The visit by the local students marks the second consecutive year BVI youth have had the chance to meet these visiting scientists from the US mainland.
During their time on Guana Island, the students were treated to scholarly discussions on the wide variety of insects, reptiles, and birds found on the island. The students were particularly delighted to see and get to hold a week-old iguana that was being studied by the researchers.
After noticing the enthusiasm level of the students, it was agreed by the scientists and managers of Guana Island Hotel to invite two students over for an additional day of hands-on experience doing field research with the scientists.
Commenting on the event, Dr. Gad Perry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, commented "We are always happy to have these aspiring scientists visit and discuss our research. Science education is critical to the future of any country and the long-term welfare of humankind. These young people are going to be the leaders of tomorrow and it is vital that they understand and appreciate the marvels of nature, so that they can expand the scope of human knowledge and behave as responsible citizens in protecting our environment."
Dr. Perry and the other researchers on Guana Island are themselves participating in a program that dates back 30 years. Under this program, the Jarecki family has opened up Guana Island and provided financial support for scientists to spend two months each year conducting field research on the island´s unique eco-system.
In outlining the 30 years of research on the island Dr. James "Skip" Lazell of The Conservation Agency and lead scientist commented: "The commitment of Guana Island and the Jarecki family for three decades has been truly remarkable. Thanks to this program, flamingos have been reintroduced to the Virgin Islands, numerous species of flora and fauna have been preserved, and scientific knowledge has expanded."
Melissa Browne-Potter, Assistant Manager ,Guana Island Hotel, said, "We are always excited to have local youth visit us. After seeing the faces of the students, it was too wonderful an opportunity to overlook. Therefore we invited two of them back for more hands-on experience."
Jehab Tarabay, one of the two students who returned spoke of his experiences working along with Dr. Perry as they set traps to locate iguanas, snakes and other reptiles on the island. "While I enjoy studying science in the classroom, it is really nothing like being in the field doing real research with a real scientist. Maybe one day I will be back here doing my own research as a professional scientist."
Plans to return and appreciation for the opportunity were echoed by Deann Parsons, facilitator and science teacher at ESHS: "Education does not end in the classroom. It must extend into the real world. We are grateful that Guana Island gave us the opportunity to do just that. It is good for our students and good for our community."
This event was organized by Stacy Mather, Executive Director of YEP (Youth Empowerment Project) as part of community outreach program by Guana Island Hotel, The Jarecki Family Foundation and YEP. For more information please contact YEP @ (284)-495-2010 or yepbvi@...