In time, the true value of youth education naturally presents itself. An example of this has just come to fruition on Bonaire where two of STINAPA’s Junior Rangers have just graduated from the program by passing their PADI Open Water Dive course. They are now joining Sabine Engel with the Conch Restoration Project in Lac Bay to help tag and investigate conch distribution, growth and repopulation.
For Desiree Croes, the Nature Education Officer at STINAPA Bonaire, her work is truly coming full-circle. The students that she has guided through nature education are now working alongside her to help safeguard nature on the island.
At DCNA we have just finished a two-day workshop with Desiree, education officers from CARMABI Curaçao, Arikok National Park Foundation and IVN Netherlands – DCNA’s new partner in nature education. The focus of the workshop was on the redevelopment of two nature classroom boxes which are given to primary school classrooms to use on Bonaire. These boxes (themes of birds and coral reefs) have been effective, but are now outdated, and not utilized by enough students.
The facelift of these two themed boxes is just a start for DCNA and IVN, who will look to get all nature themes on the curriculum in Dutch Caribbean schools, but are also working together to build a regional after-school program to consolidate all of the ongoing efforts of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. Amazingly, all of the park management organizations are currently running “clubs” or “camps” with very limited resources. The idea is to build a program and Dutch Caribbean brand, and share materials and knowledge to strategically educate and engage our youth with nature. Maybe one day the Junior Rangers of Bonaire can take a course on trail maintenance on Saba or maybe even hike through temperate forests in the Netherlands with Dutch Junior Rangers.