Preserving the environment of Abaco through conservation, education, and research facilitation.
I struck up a conversation with a young man who had just returned to
Abaco for the first time since evacuating after Hurricane
Dorian. Filling up his gas jug, he looked around in awe at the
rebuilding progress going on and commented on the artwork of the
beautiful mural across the street depicting adversity and beauty, life
and death, and hope. I asked if he was happy to be home; his response
with much emotion and a big bright smile was “I have no words…”. His
happiness was evident. Abaco is rebuilding and there is a determination
to bring people home.
As island wide rebuilding progresses the impact that FRIENDS continues to have on environmental conservation can not be understated. We are
providing opportunities for young people to be part of rebuilding
sustainably by creating new programs in sustainable livelihoods
training, fresh water conservation, and mangrove restoration. FRIENDS is
corresponding with scientists supporting their plans to get back to
Abaco to continue important research that contributes to conservation
and outreach efforts while also supporting our economy. As schools are
rebuilt and families return home it is a priorty of ours to creatively integrate environmental education in schools while supporting teachers as they engage their students. Even through recovery we remain dedicated to our mission of education, conservation and research facilitation.
I believe that we
all recognise Abaco as an amazing place because of its people, natural
resources, and astounding beauty. Building the expanded Learning Centre
will provide more opportunities and facilitate more experiences for all
of our curiosities to grow, leading to protecting our natural resources,
the beauty of our islands, and the livelihoods of our people. With
determination, and with your help, we can build the new Learning Centre
and contribute to rebuilding Abaco.
Your support has brought us to where we are today and is so greatly appreciated.
Please consider sharing in our vision of FRIENDS' future as we begin
this exciting journey. We will be providing more information in the
coming weeks on building plans and ways you can get involved, but please
feel free to contact me anytime for more information.
Increasing Access to Environmental Education During COVID-19
Due to COVID restrictions, Abaco is not permitted to have any
social gatherings or face-to-face schooling. We miss our students very
dearly, but are beginning to get back into the "classroom" virtually!
This month we were able to present a lesson on the biology and
importance of coral reefs to some students being homeschooled, and have
begun promoting free virtual lessons to Abaco schools. We are thankful
for the fluidity and dedication of our teachers in this process!
We are also creating a virtual after school program to fill the gap of the after-school clubs we would have normally held.
is developing a Sustainable Livelihoods Apprenticeship Program, where
we aim to engage recent high school graduates in Abaco in sustainable
job training opportunities. This month, we launched our pilot program,
beginning with solar energy training. With support from UNDP GEF SGP,
this pilot is being implemented in partnership with Engineered Electric Services,
who will mentor the apprentices for two months. During this time, they
will be replacing FRIENDS's solar array which was lost in Hurricane
Dorian, as well as assisting on other job sites around Abaco. These
three young Abaconians will gain valuable hands-on experience in
electrical engineering, and if they discover that this is a career they
would like to pursue, they will have the guidance from within the
industry. We are excited about this program and for future sustainable
training opportunities for more young Abaconians.
This month, Lyndeisha Curry, our Education Officer, joined IDEA
relief on a trip to North Abaco for marine and terrestrial debris
surveys. Over the course of several days they surveyed the waters and
coasts of Green Turtle Cay and Grand Cay. This research is part of a
progression of rapid assessments being conducted for Hurricane Dorian
The progress of businesses and homeowners who are rebuilding in
Abaco is encouraging. As part of FRIENDS' contribution to recovery
efforts in Abaco we have partnered with Sustainable Lifestyle and the
Department of Agriculture in their 100k tree planting initiative to
distribute plants to assist with re-greening our communities. We have
received our first shipment and began by distributing breadfruit trees
and coconut palms in Hope Town. We have an assortment of other fruit
trees and ornamental plants to distribute through out Abaco. Stay tuned
for more info!
If you plant a tree anywhere in The Bahamas, please click the
button below to fill out a form and make your tree count towards the
Executive Director, Cha Boyce, presents a breadfruit tree to Hope Town
School's principal, Justin Higgs, for it to be planted as they rebuild.
FRIENDS Campus: Rebuild Update
It's true, recovery is tough...but seeing daily progress like new
solar panels installed at the Kenyon Centre is encouraging! Hot off the
press, because this photo was taken on October 29th! Engineered Electric
Services and their crew (including sustainable livelihood apprentices)
are doing a great job restoring our solar system! Soon, we will be able
to happily announce that our system is live and we are back to reducing
our output of greenhouse gases. Stay tuned!
Over the years as we have developed our campus we have worked to
reduce our carbon footprint and incorporate sustainable solutions that
can be replicated elsewhere in the community. Now, as we recover from
Hurricane Dorian we are literally building on that knowledge to improve
and come back better! In planning for a new and expanded Learning Centre
and a more unified campus we are exploring all options and thinking
critically to address each detail that can bring us closer to our
facility goals of sustainability, functionality, and purpose.
We can't wait to share more!
Taste of Exploration and Curiosity...Leads to Winning National Geographic Explorer of the Year
Jakolski says "Going to museums as a kid gave me a taste of exploration
and a huge curiosity." He says as a kid he was an "explorer at heart"
and having gained an understanding that the world was bigger than the
community where he grew up he wanted to see more of it. In 2016, Abaco
students had the opportunity to meet Corey and experience augmented
reality technology that he had invented. At the time, Corey was part of a
National Geographic Expedition to map the blue holes of South Abaco and
raise community awareness of their surrounding environments. The
exploration team stayed at The Frank Kenyon Centre and FRIENDS organized
the education component of the expedition, affording Abaco students and
community members an opportunity to participate.
congratulate Corey on his recent award for the 2020 Rolex National
Geographic Award as Explorer of the Year for his "synthetaic" technology
innovations. His innovations have taken him on explorations around the
world and his motivation is "helping to preserve and protect the world
around us". We are inspired by Corey, and as we plan the new Learning
Centre at FRIENDS we are excited to create an exploratorium and museum
encouraging curiousity about the natural world in our very own Abaco
students. Who knows? There may be some new young Explorers among us!
sharing his augmented reality technology with some students visiting
the South Abaco Blue Holes National Park in 2016. This technology was
being used to capture visual information about sensitive artifacts so
that they could be studied without being handled.