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Press Release - Coral Reef Ed-Ventures - 2012 - Smith College

Coral Reef Ed-Ventures returning to San Pedro for 13th year of coral reef programs

Hol Chan Coral Reef Ed-Ventures is an educational summer program that teaches children about reef ecology and conservation. In 2000, three Smith College professors collaborated with Hol Chan Marine Reserve, especially Miguel Alamilla, to create an environmental education program for Belizean school children, facilitated every year by Smith students. The goal of the program for the past twelve years has been to foster collaboration between Smith students and the residents of San Pedro to promote an understanding about the environmental and economic benefits of a healthy reef system with the hope of increasing conservation of this remarkable resource.

This program has two sessions: a one-week advanced program and a two-week youth program. The advanced program is for youth ages 13 to 18, and will create a coral reef conservation project. Last year, the group created a documentary focusing on mangrove restoration. This year we will start on Monday, June 18th and go through Friday, June 22nd. The program runs from 4PM to 6PM at San Pedro High School.

The youth program is for school children ages 7 to 12 and will run from Monday, July 2nd through Thursday, July 12th. The program runs 9:00 to 11:45AM at the RC School. Children participate in a two-week, inquiry-based program to learn about coral reefs that includes many hands-on activities that emphasize the care and preservation of the reef.

Interested students should pick up permission slips at the library (across from the RC School) or at the Hol Chan Office and bring it to the first day of the program. We hope you will join us on our coral reef adventure!

Also before the program officially gets underway there will be two movie nights with popcorn and juice. These events are open for anyone in the community who is interested, so be on the lookout for dates and times!

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Smith Team Departs for Summer on the Reef

As the Smith College Coral Reef Ed-Ventures Program enters its 13th year, students gear up for another fun and educational summer running youth camps in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The Smith Coral Reef Ed-Centures 2012 team.

Smith students lead Coral Reef Ed-Ventures participants in a group activity outside the San Pedro classroom.


This year's student participants-Angela Oliverio '12 (majors: biological sciences and philosophy), Kaylyn Oates '12 (geosciences and education and child study), Alyssa Stanek '13 (psychology and education and child study), Kayla Clark '14 (sociology and education and child study), Laura Malecky '13 (study of women and gender), and Megan Svoboda '12 (anthropology)-along with faculty members David Smith, professor of biological sciences, Al Curran, professor emeritus of geosciences, and Denise Lello, lecturer in biological sciences, team up with personnel at the Belize Hol Chan Marine Reserve to provide educational summer programs to the local youth.

The Smith team departed this week for a six-week stay on the Belize coast.

The Smith student teachers and up to 100 Belizean school children, aged 7 to 11, participate in a two-week, inquiry-based program to learn about coral reefs. There is also a one-week program for youth aged 12 and above, during which the students produce a final project to share with their community.

The programs integrate exploration of the local reef and coastal environments through the study of geology and marine science, and make connections to the existing curricula of the Belizean schools. Smith students will also engage in research to survey abundances of invertebrates and invasive fish on the reef and to map mangroves and sea grass beds.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef extends 180 miles along the coasts of southern Mexico, Belize, and northern Honduras and is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Ambergris Caye is located off the northeast coast of Belize, and its close proximity to the reef allows this small island to boast the title of Belize's premier vacation destination. The island is dependent on the reef economically as well as ecologically.

The island's Hol Chan Marine Reserve was established in 1987 in response to concerns about the increasing amount of uncontrolled diving and fishing on and near the reef. A healthy coral reef and adjacent sea grass beds and mangrove communities are needed to support tourism and sustain fisheries. The degradation of these habitats would be detrimental locally and regionally.

Coral Reef Ed-Ventures student teachers strive to educate the community and heighten awareness about the important economic, ecological, and aesthetic benefits that coral reefs provide to Belize. They use a wide variety of strategies, techniques, and materials to teach children concepts about reef ecology, including field trips, crafts, skits, games, and other hands-on activities. The program seeks to inspire conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources by providing children an opportunity to learn how healthy reefs function, how various organisms interact with the reef, what threats to the reef ecosystem exist, and how to protect it. Smith College's Environmental Science & Policy Program and Center for Community Collaboration sponsor this project.

The Coral Ed Team of 2012 is very excited to begin their adventure on La Isla Bonita!

Smith College

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2012 Coral Reef Summer Camp Graduates TONS of Kids

Each year, for the past 13, education and marine biology students from Smith College (in Northampton, Massachusetts) come to San Pedro to run a 2-3 week FREE summer camp with Hol Chan Marine Reserve for the kids of San Pedro. On Thursday night, one of the graduates invited me to attend the party at the San Pedro Lions' Den.

One cool thing about this program? They teach the kids all about the island's environment, how it works and how we need to conserve it, through games, super cool artwork, lessons, songs and visits. Another cool thing? I went to Smith College (Class of 1995) and had no idea this was going on in San Pedro. (Okay...probably just cool to me.)

The kids performed some songs about the mangroves, reef and even coral polyps. (They are graduating knowing WAY more than I do.)

The place was PACKED. I'm guessing about 100 kids went through the camp over the past 2 weeks.

My favorite song was a remix of Aretha Franklin. The coral reef needs a little R E S P E C T too. Or the little diddy about zooxanthellae (tiny plant cells that live on and feed the reef) and coral polyps. Always good to learn a new word.

The kids two favorite parts of the night? When they first arrived, there was a running slide show of all the campers and their activities. They were glued to this for about half an hour.

And the food...oh the food! It was like a feeding frenzy at Willie Wonkas.

It was very funny watching kids LOAD up plates of goodies...

Even funnier was that the menu was comprised of two food groups. Candy, cakes & cookies and chicken wings. A strange mix...

8 out of 9 kids at the event agree. Chicken wings are their favorite dessert.

I don't think there was much sleeping that night.

Great job ladies from Smith College and Hol Chan Marine reserve. What a great program to help kids kick off their summer in an important and extremely constructive way.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop

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