SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation Junior Rangers were able to participate in an awareness project throughout the month of November creating outreach about the new Eco-Bracelet, during which they introduced the importance of nature and the bracelet to their friends and family. The Ranger that was able to spread the most awareness about the need to protect St. Maarten’s environment won a Samsung A21S cell phone donated by TelCell NV.
The 2020-2021 Nature Foundation Junior Rangers are the first to participate in a full year program. Each month the Rangers meet for an activity and classroom session that focuses on an aspect of conservation or St. Maarten’s natural environment. The rangers that were chosen to participate applied over the summer by submitting essays about why it is important to protect the island’s ecosystem.
“The Nature Foundation Junior Ranger Program is an important part of our Outreach and Education programs at the foundation. Educating the next generation is one of the most important aspects of conservation work as these students will truly understand the importance of our natural environment and why it must be protected. Giving students an incentive like a free phone to get them comfortable with outreach and awareness was amazing and we greatly appreciate the support of TelCell,” said Educational Outreach Officer Leslie Hickerson.
A notable achievement for the program was the inclusion of the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification through funding provided by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribisch Gebied and Ocean Explorers Dive Center. In the fall the students earned their certification over several courses and shallow open water dives with the Ocean Explorers crew. Throughout their training the students learned about the importance of coral reefs and the current state of our underwater ecosystem and experienced its beauty first-hand.
Other events have included a tour of the mangroves and interactive discussion about their importance, a virtual quiz night between the Dutch Caribbean Islands, a course about the impacts of single-use plastics and accompanying beach clean-up, and many more.
The inclusion of the Eco-Bracelet promotion gave the Rangers a chance to give back to the program that has given them many opportunities, and the chance to win the generously donated cell phone from TelCell. Ranger Stefanie Frederiks was most successful in her outreach, involving over 40 of her friends and family.
“I am very happy to be part of the Junior Ranger program because I have learned so much already and now, I also have my PADI scuba diving certification. I am happy that there are companies like Telem that support these programs and I would like to thank all the people that donated for the Eco-Bracelets. Wear your bracelet and let everyone know that you are an Eco-Warrior! Together we can take care of our island and treat it really well like a golden nugget,” said Stéfanie Frederiks, “I also want to thank Ms. Leslie for her helping the Junior Rangers and for teaching us so much about coral reefs and thank you to the Nature Foundation for this great opportunity.”