PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Nature Foundation Junior Rangers attended an informative nature exchange during the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance’s youth environmental exchange in Bonaire in October, in collaboration with STINAPA Bonaire and World Wildlife Fund. The Junior Rangers; Marshall Leone from the Learning Unlimited school, Maya Speetjens from Milton Peters College, Nubia Stomp from St Dominic High school and Valerie Halley from the Caribbean International Academy, learned about the environmental issues the Dutch Caribbean islands are facing, marine conservation and the importance of our natural habitats. At the end of the exchange, the junior rangers presented to the board and staff of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance about their experiences and their gained knowledge. The Junior rangers performed great, “they did an amazing job presenting to DCNA, it was truly impressive, as speaking to press, scientists, and a lot of important people can be difficult” explained their leader Guillaume Lacome.
The junior rangers learned about the wildlife on Bonaire, about the impact of plastic pollution, migratory birds and worked on their snorkel skills while learning about fishes, corals and marine life in general. Maya Speetjens mentioned that she learned a lot while she was snorkeling, including the importance of parrot fish for our coral reefs as they eat the algae which can suffocate the corals. Valeri Halley explained about the importance of learning from others “not only did I get to learn about Bonaire’s nature, but I got to learn from other children and what they are doing for their islands, that was just great”.
The Junior Rangers experienced basic living conditions, without electricity and internet, while camping in the Washington Slagbaai National park. Nubia Stomp mentioned “being where I was in Bonaire, without internet or cell reception made me realize how refreshing it is that I do not have an option to be staring at the screen of my Phone for hours and that I could have so much fun and still enjoy myself without it”. Marshall Leone enjoyed the lifestyle and stated “On this Junior Ranger Exchange, I have experienced how much of a different lifestyle you can make for yourself. In the protected area that we stayed in, there was raw beauty that resulted from not polluting or damaging the habitat. This made me realize the human impact on nature and why we need to protect it”.
The youth environmental exchange was made possible by the project sponsors Rabobank, World Wildlife Fund (WWF-NL), STINAPA Bonaire and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) together with a great and enthusiastic project team comprised of members from DCNA, STINAPA and Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA).