Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Friends of the Environment November E-News

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

As we come to the end of this crazy year of 2020 we recognise there has been hardship, but are hopeful that silver linings have been found and cherished. At FRIENDS, despite the destruction and disruptions we have found silver linings. The opportunity to build back better, help our community in new ways, create exciting new programs, form partnerships through Zoom, and remain connected with you, who continue to support FRIENDS, all help to bring positivity and gratitude to the end of this year. 

Because of your continued support and belief in the work of FRIENDS we are excited about taking the first steps towards rebuilding FRIENDS' new Learning Centre. We are grateful for the initial support that is helping to meet our fundraising goals by the end of the year. With your continued contributions, we will be able to move to the next steps! As Abaconians come home and recovery and rebuilding continue all over the islands it will be important to once again have facilities, enabling FRIENDS to become a destination where students are engaged in conservation and discovery of their environment. 

As the holiday season is upon us, I wish you all a safe holiday and hopefully some time with family and friends. My Mom just moved back home, her house is almost repaired from hurricane damage, and both of my children are home. Time with my family, feeling lucky to be able to be on this beautiful island, and sharing the work at FRIENDS with so many wonderful people who support us are my own personal silver linings. I am grateful and I wish you a holiday season filled with silver linings of your own.

With Gratitude,

Cha Boyce
Executive Director
Double Your Donation!
We are grateful to have received an amazing grant from GlobalGiving to set a matching challenge. Every donation that we receive before December 31st, will be matched, up to $100,000! Will you help us match, meet, and raise what we need to make it to the next step in our journey to rebuild our Learning Centre?

Draft Learning Centre plans
Want to learn more about our plans? Feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to share!
Teaching remotely: Challenging, but never boring!
Implementing WASH and DRY, virtually!

You may remember us sharing information about our new program, WASH & DRY (Water, Sanitation and Disaster Recovery) with you a few months back. We were able to do a few lessons in our virtual summer camp, but this month, we succeeded in virtually implementing the entire six lesson program with our first in-school classes! These were students of grades 1 and 2 from Crossing Rocks Primary, Cherokee Primary and Moore's Island All Age School. Despite the challenges of virtual learning, these classes were very productive and interactive. We enjoyed being "back in the classroom" with our students. Thank you to Mrs. Brenell Higgs and Ms. Denise Pinder for their patience and cooperation in these classes!

Other Virtual Lessons offered
We are offering interactive, informative virtual lessons for all Abaco schools! This month we hosted several interactive coral reef presentations for students of Every Child Counts (left). Other options include mangroves, blue holes, pine forests, conservation, and more.
Click the button below to see the full list of what we offer.

Coming soon: virtual field trips!
UNDP GEF SGP Grant Makes an Impact on Young Apprentices

We are in the midst of implementing our grant from the UNDP GEF SGP and are proud to say that we have already repaired our solar array and begun our pilot sustainable livelihoods apprenticeship program. Check out the video below for an update from two of our solar trainees, Stevano Greene and Earelle Reckley. Earelle says "it's been an educational experience". We are so impressed with the trainees progress and can't wait to see where our sustainable livelihoods program goes from here!

FRIENDS Partners with IDEA Relief for Green Turtle Cay
Coastal Cleanup

FRIENDS recently received a grant from UNDP Jamaica to support a Hurricane Dorian marine debris cleanup program. This grant will focus on cleanup of the coasts and nearshore waters of Green Turtle Cay, however we would like to see the project replicated in other communities. Part of the project will support community recovery by hiring short term workers and young apprentices (recent high school graduates from Abaco). If you would like to apply for the apprenticeship program, please click below to learn more.
Celebrating International
Education Week

International Education Week was this month, and we used this time to reflect and celebrate our partners from around the globe. We highlighted Amy Heemsoth from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (LOF), our long-time partners in mangrove and coral reef education. When asked the importance of international education, Amy said: "As an educator, I think it’s important to watch and listen. This is when the magic of international education happens - when knowledge is exchanged between people from different cultures.” We agree!

In return, the LOF highlighted Lianna Burrows, our Outreach Coordinator. In her interview, she says "Bringing in an educator from another avenue outside of the students’ regular realm of teachers has a huge impact on the way they learn".

We are so grateful for our partners and for the knowledge that can be shared between communities and cultures about our environment.
Top: Students with Miss Amy Heemsoth of the LOF during the Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves (B.A.M.) program
Bottom: FRIENDS' Outreach Coordinator, Lianna Burrows.
Bahamians concerned over oil drilling
Over the past several months, Bahamian newspaper headlines have been covering exploratory offshore oil drilling set to begin at the end of 2020 by The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC). This drill ship is currently on its way to The Bahamas to begin drilling an exploratory well. Many Bahamians have voiced their concerns over the risks that come with oil drilling in our pristine waters. You can add your voice by signing the petition.
Creative Ways to Gift and Give

Would you like to treat someone you haven't seen in a while, or perhaps buy some Christmas presents? Here a few options for meaningful holiday gifting that benefit the recipient and Friends of the Environment!

Don't Send Me a Card!
Save paper and help the planet while supporting FRIENDS' programs! Use the money you would have spent on traditional cards and postage to purchase one of our unique e-cards. Available for Birthdays, Christmas, and other special events! Choose from the crystal caves of Abaco, native flora and fauna and more...
Choose your e-card here, with options to send as a business or an individual!

Check Out Our New Redbubble Store
Redbubble is an online platform where you can purchase products with FRIENDS' logo on it. Choose from our classic logo or a mermaid design! Mugs, socks, notebooks, phone cases
and more! Check it out here.

Amazon Smile
Every time you shop on Amazon a portion of your purchase could go to FRIENDS! It's as easy as clicking here and selecting FRIENDS as your charity. Whenever you shop, remember to go to smile.amazon.com.
Don't Forget! Closed Season for Nassau Grouper
Now more than ever is the time to protect our natural resources for the future. Did you know that Nassau Grouper have been added to the critically endangered species list? This means that, like pandas and gorillas, they are at extremely high risk of extinction within three generations or approximately 10 years. Let's do our part to respect the closed season from December 1st-February 28th, when they are reproducing for future generations.
~ With Gratitude ~
Being on the Board of Friends of the Environment is a real privilege. FRIENDS has been involved in so many amazing projects over the years and their contribution to Environmental Awareness and Education is huge. Abaconian young people are perhaps some of the most environmentally aware Bahamians due to the Field Trips, presentations, after school clubs and summer camps provided by FRIENDS. None of this would be possible without your generous support for which we sincerely thank you.
Having been on Abaco continuously since Hurricane Dorian and the COVID pandemic I am very aware of the incredible challenges that we have locally with marine debris and habitat destruction and waste management. We also have not had any real face to face education for most of the school children in over a year.
Friends of the Environment staff have risen to these challenges. They have been involved in clean ups and environmental assessments. They have created and implemented many on line education presentations for the school children and even held a highly successful virtual summer camp. And now we also have several paid interns working in fields such as solar energy installation which may lead to future job opportunities. 
All this whilst planning the rebuild of the Friends of the Environment Education Centre. We are not sitting still!
Without the assistance of generous donors none of this would be possible and so at this Thanksgiving time of the year I would like to give a very big THANK YOU to each of you and let you know how much you are appreciated.
During these difficult times we have often been humbled by the heart warming assistance and kindness of others.
We are grateful.
Joy Chaplin, Board Member

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Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, supported, and donated to help make this work possible.
Friends of the Environment | PO Box AB 20755, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas