Environmental education focus group established

Students study seagrass under a microscope.

Cayman’s environmental organisations have joined forces to create a special education focus group to provide curriculum-linked outdoor teaching activities for the local community.

The group was launched on Wednesday as Cayman marked World Earth Day.

“We’re all aiming to accomplish similar goals,” says Jessica Harvey, project manager of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

She said by “pooling our resources and experiences with a strong willingness to work and support each other, the Cayman Islands will be in a better position to adapt to our ever changing business, development and natural environment; help our community become more sustainable users of our natural resources and lead by example as a country recognizing we can no longer continue to take our natural resources for granted.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, a statement from the group said, has reinforced this need and demonstrated how, if given an opportunity, nature will bounce back stronger than before and there are plenty of entrepreneurial ideas waiting to be discovered.

Students examine a jellyfish as part of an environmental education programme.

The group said it aims to create an “integrated and exciting spectrum” of activities starting with a strong focus in Cayman’s primary schools.

“In November 2019, several local environmental organisations came together with the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture, and Lands, the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, the Department of the Environment and Department of Education Services [and] identified the real need for support of the teaching and promotion of the environment for all students,” it said.

The group consists of representatives from the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Reef Environmental Educational Foundation, Mangrove Education Project and Central Caribbean Marine Institute. The team from Sea Elements, together with the Energy Policy Coordinator from the CPI and representatives from the DoE, DES and MEYSAL also form part of the focus group.

Together, the group said, it hopes to increase access and utilisation of supplementary materials and activities developed by member organisations to aid teachers and parents.

“In addition, teachers will be provided with outdoor field trips to explore Cayman’s unique natural resources both on and offshore. In class activities [the organisations] will provide supporting resources to highlight the knowledge acquired during the field trips,” it said.

Initially, a website called Cayman Environmental Education will be created to simplify the search for local environmental information for parents and teachers.

“It will include links to educational material from the Focus Group members along with their profile and contact details. A calendar will also be available and updated regularly to showcase different environmental and education activities hosted in the Cayman Islands,” it said.

“We are delighted to all be part of the formulation of a committed group of environmental experts, to support the environmental education of Caymans youth,” said the group. “We are confident that it will be a highly valuable resource both now and for many years to come.”

The group said it will expand in due course to include all local environmental educational organisations across the three islands.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now