Six young Caymanians spent two weeks this summer immersed in conservation and marine science as part of a new Young Environmental Leadership Course.
The Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s first Young Environmental Leadership Course at the Little Cayman Research Centre aims to introduce students to the role of the environment in their everyday lives, especially as a business commodity.
As part of the course, the students were taught how to dive and introduced to marine conservation theory, the marine environment and tourism and current threats to the environment. Each theory class was supported by vocational experiences to ensure the relevance of the theory had a practical application to which the students could relate.
Business owners in Little Cayman supported the programme and students spent time at the Southern Cross Club, the Department of Environment, the Little Cayman Beach Resort and Lost Boys Kite Surfing, where they were introduced to different management techniques and the pressures of operating businesses, in addition to the environmental concerns that the Little Cayman operators consider in their business plans.
The course has also provided work experience links for the students to ensure their new skills are maximised in the future.
Kate Pellow of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute said the centre hopes to build on this year’s pilot course, aiming to provide a link within the community between education and the environment.
“The real success of this course, however, was the collaboration between several different businesses, to support the students in the most effective way,” Ms Pellow said.
The course was supported from its inception by Foster’s Food Fair IGA as a result of their plastic bag sales. Foster’s marketing manager Ayiesha DeCoteu said: “Foster’s Food Fair IGA has always been passionate about initiatives that not only help the community and environment but also provide educational substance to the youth of Cayman. This partnership with CCMI covers all those things and we are happy that, through the sale of plastic bags and our promise to place that money back into the community and environment at large, we were able to support this effort.” The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and Ash McKnight’s Go Pro dive instruction also supported the programme by recruiting the students and providing training. Go Pro provided a dive instructor to work with the CCMI team to ensure the students completed their dive training as rescue divers, including emergency first response, and also offered the students the opportunity of enrolling on the PADI professional development course with Go Pro for free.