Monday, November 2, 2020

Friends of the Environment October E-News


Preserving the environment of Abaco through conservation, education, and research facilitation.

Dear readers, 

Recently 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. 


Cha Boyce
Executive Director
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.
Building Capacity while Rebuilding Sustainably

FRIENDS 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.

Tackling Marine Debris

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 recovery efforts.
Brighter Days are on the Way

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 100,000 goal!
Our 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
Corey 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.

We 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!
Corey 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.
Friends of the Environment | PO Box AB 20755, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas