Exuma Cays Lectures
In pursuit of our mission to support innovative scientific research and education that advances the stewardship of our oceans and coastal ecosystems, staff at the Perry Institute for Marine Science hosted lectures at three Exuma Cays schools in early March. Meredith Newman, Science & Education Outreach Coordinator; Dr. Erich Mueller, resident coral expert; and Ms. Sarah Bagley, resident intern, visited the Little Farmers All Age School, Blackpoint All Age School and Staniel Cay All Age School.
Upon arriving at their first stop, Little Farmers Cay All Age School, the group was greeted to a morning assembly led by Principal Jagroo and his wife. Dr. Erich Mueller's lecture focused on ocean connectivity and promoting the idea of protection and conservation of the oceans urging students to become more proactive in their conservation efforts. The Blackpoint All Age School, led by Principal McKenzie, boasts an onsite representative from Bahamas National Trust who oversees the environmental science aspects of the curriculum. Principal Denny from the Staniel Cay School was amazed at how familiar his students were with the problems caused by the invasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish that has been wreaking havoc on Bahamian reefs in recent years.
In an effort to expose local youth to the world of science that surrounds them., PIMS' 2009 Local Outreach Program aims to enrich the existing environmental science, biology, and chemistry programs at local Exuma schools by providing students hands-on laboratory experience at their marine scientific research facility on Lee Stocking Island.
PIMS Meet and Greet Luncheon
The 'Meet and Greet' Luncheon hosted by PIMS at Lee Stocking Island was a great success. Distinguished guests from the Department of Customs, Department of Education, Department of Fisheries, Department of Immigration, Bahamas Police Department, National Insurance Board, Environmental Health Services, Department of Finance, and the College of the Bahamas were in attendance. Guests received a warm welcome from Island Manager, Brenda Gadd followed by an island tour and presentation of PIMS' 2009 Outreach Program focusing on collegiate, public and Bahamian education followed the tour. Later, PIMS' intern Sarah Bagley, gave a short presentation on the resident West Indian Whistling Duck population. Dr. Erich Mueller served as the final speaker, presenting his series, 'Exuma Blues: The Most Beautiful Waters In The World:
Exuma Girl Guides
PIMS kicked off its 2009 Outreach Program with a 3-day retreat for the Exuma Girl Guides. Nineteen Girl Guides and chaperones arrived at Lee Stocking Island where they participated in a two-hour nature hike to Perry's Peak, a water safety course, group snorkels to nearby coral reefs, and other fun-filled activities. The Girl Guides acclimated themselves with their snorkeling equipment by swimming around in an in-ground salt water tank on the island before jetting off to see the corals offshore. Dr. Hector Cruz-Lopez, PIMS Assistant DSO and forensic scientist from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, treated the girls to a first aid program course, which included ways to treat broken bones, poisonous bites, opening a victim's airway, and how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. The girls also learned how to immobilize an injured victim on a crash board and how to take charge as a first- aid responder. Ms. Sarah Bagley, PIMS intern and current Girl Guide Leader from England, gave a slide presentation on similar group outings in which she participated in the UK. Two merit badges will be awarded to the girls who participated in this weekend experience. The program and activities at Lee Stocking Island were arranged by Meredith Newman and Sarah Bagley in coordination with District Commissioner of the Girl Guides, Ms. Audrea Smith, and local group leaders, Ms. Millicent Johnson-Collie, Ms. Janet Culmer, Ms. Sonia Lowe, Ms. Katrina McKinney, and Ms. Carolyn Young. Based on the extreme success of this weekend both organizations will pursue more outreach programs in the future.
Exuma Principal's Luncheon at Lee Stocking Island
Local principals from Exuma schools attended a luncheon at PIMS on Lee Stocking Island on March 5th. Superintendent of Education, Mrs. Lillian Culmer-Miller and Meredith Newman, coordinated the event facilitating discussions wherein ideas could be shared amongst the participants on constructive ways that PIMS and the local schools could work together to incorporate science programs into their curricula. Given that most Exuma schools lack adequate lab equipment and space, the benefits of partnering with PIMS would mean an opportunity to enhance the current level of marine science education presently available. In support of these efforts, PIMS will host a three-day Marine Science Summit for local students and faculty at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. The purpose of this and future summits will be to "immerse" students and faculty in marine science, thereby, heightening awareness and protection of our oceans and coastal ecosystems. With the availability of 4 laboratories, a large dining hall and commercial kitchen, and accommodations for up to 30 guests, PIMS has all the amenities necessary to create a safe learning environment, all the while incorporating the many natural resources of the island, ranging from nearby coral reefs, mangroves, native flora and fauna, and beautiful beaches and nature trails into its educational programs. PIMS looks forward to building continued educational partnerships with the local Exuma community.
Exuma Garden Club
The Exuma Garden Club (EGC) attended an overnight stay at LSI on March 12th. During their visit, the 14 member group, led by Secretary Ms. Patricia Rice, assisted in the identification and tagging of native Bahamian plant species. PIMS' senior scientist, Dr. Erich Mueller, organized a nature hike to Coconut Beach, followed by a lecture on shoreline geology, a discussion on mangrove systems and a power point presentation on Elizabeth Harbor entitled "Exuma Blues". Dr. Art Boyd later gave a demonstration on proper composting techniques. This event follows a succession of other outreach efforts initiated by PIMS in 2009 to reconnect with the local community and further its environmental and educational programs offered by the LSI facility. PIMS looks forward to furthering its outreach goals by partnering with other local organizations in the future.