October 27, 2020

Young Caymanians learn sea skills at CCMI

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Caymanians have always depended on the sea. The Central Caribbean Marine Institute () in Little Cayman is working to ensure that continue to appreciate and can earn a living through better understanding Cayman’s marine environment and how it is so connected to life here.

In 2012, CCMI launched the Young Environmental Leadership Course (YELC) in a bid to teach high school students how to be good environmental stewards in their local community. The programme targets Year 11 students who will not necessarily be attending college and need some support to help shape their futures. Foster’s Food Fair IGA and Cayman National Bank have stepped in and supported the course, ensuring that 8 — 12 students take part in this enriching programme each year. The course aims to provide students with the skills needed to assist them in careers in their local environment, from dive masters to government workers.

Woody Foster, Managing Director of Fosters IGA said ‘Foster’s Food Fair – IGA are committed to the sustainability of programs that educate our children as they are our future, and we strive to be part of a “greener” community. We are delighted to be a part of the YELC programme, supporting those with a passion for the ocean who wouldn’t get this opportunity without the efforts of CCMI. We should all stand behind vocational education programmes and support our ocean specialists of the future.

December 2016 saw a group of 11 passionate and ambitious young men with a great interest in environment, sustainable tourism, watersports and marine based mechanics take part in the course which was packed with valuable opportunities and amazing experiences. The course began with an introduction to the marine conservation theory, the marine environment and tourism and current threats to the environment. Following this, the team were invited to spend time with local businesses and the Department of Environment to see how conservation and tourism work together in practice, a vital relationship in the success of CCMI’s work. Everyone taking part in the course completed a SCUBA PADI Rescue Diver course including Emergency First Response, a necessity for anybody working on the water. Once they had these key skills in hand, a week long residential course took place at the Little Cayman Research Centre to learn about key areas such as coral identification, fish identification, threats to coral reefs, marine debris and plastic awareness and the scientific method from start to finish.

One student, Jesse Jackson returned for the 4th time to CCMI to complete this course. Tom Sparke, Education Programme Manager at CCMI said: “Jesse is an ambassador of the work that our extensive education programmes hope to achieve. Jesse first joined us in January 2016 for a volunteer work placement with Lowell Forbes, our Maintenance Director, Boat Captain, and Dive Instructor extraordinaire! He then came back for a week in the summer for our Edmund and Virginia Ball Foundation Caribbean Marine Ecology ”Sea Camp” before visiting the Centre with his Cayman Prep peers for a three- day Marine Ecology Camp. Jesse has a deep-rooted passion for the ocean, which drives him to take advantage of the many educational opportunities we provide for young Caymanians.”

Shari Welcome, Manager of Bank Marketing for Cayman National Bank said: ‘Cayman National Bank are invested in ensuring that education is for everybody and we feel that it is the obligation of the whole community to support the development of our children. YELC offers a vocational learning environment outside of the traditional classroom and subjects. By inspiring young minds and giving the tools to explore the ocean, CCMI are creating specialists of the future’.

This fantastic sponsorship opportunity is open to Caymanian students aged 15- 18 years old who currently attend one of the Cayman Islands Government high schools and are enrolling with the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre. For more information on this and our full range of educational programmes, please visit: reefresearch.org

To donate to this project, email [email protected]

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