Smith Team Departs for Summer on the Reef
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,
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.
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!