SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Due to the generous support of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, the Nature Foundation St. Maarten received an additional staff member in March to assist in the Foundation’s daily activities and strengthen the outreach and educational programs. The new educational outreach position will be filled by Leslie Hickerson, a resident of St. Maarten with a background in Sustainable Tourism and scuba diving. The primary function of the position will be to spread outreach and education about the local environment and nature, it’s importance and the role of the Nature Foundation.
“We are extremely grateful for the received support of Port de Plaisance Marina as the additional capacity is very needed within the Nature Foundation. With our newest staff member, we will be able to increase environmental knowledge and awareness about our natural habitats among the youth and residents of the island. In order to protect and secure the natural environment of St Maarten for the generations to come, education and awareness are crucial components. People will protect and preserve what they love and care about, therefore we are grateful to be able to increase the nature awareness on the island with the help of Port de Plaisance Marina” stated Nature Foundation’s Manager Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
The one-year position would not be possible without the generous support of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance who has always been an active partner with the Foundation.
“The Yacht Club Port De Plaisance Operated by Marine Management & Consulting NV has always valued the hard and valuable work the Nature Foundation does for the environment and ecosystems on our Island. It goes without saying that our ecosystems and environment is our number one source and why our clients continue to visit our beautiful island and come to our shores. The Yacht Club Port De Plaisance goals and mission is to preserve and maintain our nature as best as possible and we do our best to advocate the same to our clients and visitors. We understand our business in tourism and yachting can have its challenges against nature preservation, but without proper educational outreach and programs, we will not be able to protect what we all value and enjoy most, our nature!” said Jesse Peterson, Operations Director of Yacht Club Port De Plaisance and MMC Group of companies.
Through school visits, awareness events, press and social media releases Hickerson’s goal will be to educate students and residents about the local environment and environmental issues on St. Maarten. The Foundation is very delighted to have Ms. Hickerson as part of the team with her background and experience working on St. Maarten. As a dive instructor working on the island Hickerson has extensive knowledge of the marine park and environment and has participated in several of the Nature Foundation’s events as a volunteer.
“I am so excited to join the Nature Foundation team as the Educational Outreach Officer. After years of working in the tourism industry in St. Maarten I have been able to see the decline in the health of our marine environment firsthand. I think the most successful long-term solution to protect our environment is to focus on educating our youth and inspiring them to change how they view our resources and sustainability,” said Hickerson. Some of the projects Hickerson will oversee as the Educational Outreach Officer are the upcoming Student Competition; Protecting St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs, the Junior Ranger Program, and this year’s Coral Reef Education Project.
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 Nature Foundation would like to thank the Yacht Club for their extensive and continuous support.