The Nature Foundation St. Maarten would like to acknowledge the remarkable contribution from Yacht Club Port de Plaisance to support the Foundation’s educational efforts in 2020. Thanks to the generous support received, the Nature Foundation was able to employ an Educational Outreach Officer which focused on strengthening awareness and education programs for local students and residents.
“We at the Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, take pride in presenting the beauty of Sint Maarten and the surrounding islands to our customers. We are thrilled to be able to contribute to an organization that loves Sint Maarten as much as we do, and hope our support helps to preserve the health and beauty of our oceans and ecosystems for generations to come,” states the Management at Yacht Club Port de Plaisance.
Many successful programs were implemented throughout the year due to the additional support including, the Save St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs Project, Coral Education Snorkels, a full Junior Ranger Program and many new outreach initiatives. These programs focused on the youth of St. Maarten and their access to learning and experiencing all that the island of St. Maarten has to offer. Throughout the year these programs introduced over 500 students to topics including the current health of St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs, the importance of protecting ecosystems, the dangerous effects of single-use plastics, and many other conservation areas that impact the island.
“We were very happy to be able to provide these opportunities for local students on St. Maarten. Education is one of the key pillars of the work we do at the Nature Foundation and something that greatly benefits the island. These projects and events greatly increased the access to information for youth, awareness of the importance of protecting our natural environment, and sense of responsibility to safeguard our island’s valuable resources,” explained Leslie Hickerson Educational Outreach Officer at the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.
“Educational programs are key to instilling a sense of responsibility to protect and preserve the natural environment of St. Maarten. Students that understand the unique and highly beneficial values of the ecosystem of the island will pave the way for an eco-friendlier future. Which in turn, means that the island will be able to generate tourism income for years to come.”
As part of the Save St. Maarten’s Coral Reef’s Project the Nature Foundation was able to host several Coral Education Snorkels for local students. These events gave students the opportunity to view corals first-hand and learn about the factors that are affecting the health of these corals. For several of these students this was their first introduction to the importance of a healthy coral reef for the island and those that live here.
A great success was the implementation of the first year-long Junior Rangers program for St. Maarten. Students were selected to take part in the program based on application submitted to the foundation. These students were given the opportunity to achieve their Junior Open Water Diving Certification and take part in many other activities including kayaking through the mangroves, introduction to native plant life, a beach clean-up, and much more.
The Nature Foundation St. Maarten is tasked with being the management and scientific authority for the island’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems. To do this the Nature Foundation preserves and protects the natural environment through education, public awareness, performing essential research, law enforcement, and monitoring.
At the end of 2019 several supporters of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten came together in order to discuss sustainable finance options for the Foundation. During the meeting, the director of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance Sint Maarten generously offered to assist in increasing capacity for the Foundation and support environmental education on the island. The Foundation hopes to find additional funding in order to continue the increased education and outreach activities in the year of 2021, as continuation of those programs is much needed.