Young Caymanians learn sea skills at CCMI

| 08/02/2017
CNS Local Life

Students participating in the YELC last year

(CNS Local Life): In December, a group of 11 young men took part in the latest Young Environmental Leadership Course (YELC), a programme established in 2012 by the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) in Little Cayman 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.

The December course began with an introduction to marine conservation theory, the marine environment and tourism, and current threats to the environment. The team was then 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 weeklong residential course took place at the Little Cayman Research Centre to learn about key areas such as coral and fish identification, threats to coral reefs, marine debris and plastic awareness, and the scientific method from start to finish.

Through the course, CCMI is working to ensure that young Caymanians can earn a living through better understanding Cayman’s marine environment and how it is connected to life here.

Foster’s Food Fair IGA and Cayman National Bank (CNB) support the programme, ensuring that eight to 12 students take part 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 said Foster’s Food Fair was “committed to the sustainability of programmes 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.”

Student Jesse Jackson returned for the fourth time to complete this course. Tom Sparke, CCMI education programme manager, said, “Jesse is an ambassador of the work that our extensive education programmes hope to achieve,” adding that in January 2016 the student first took part in a volunteer work placement with Lowell Forbes, a maintenance director, boat captain and dive instructor.

Jackson then came back for a week in the summer for the Edmund and Virginia Ball Foundation Caribbean Marine Ecology ‘Sea Camp’ before visiting the centre with fellow Cayman Prep students 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,” Sparke said.

Shari Welcome, manager of bank marketing for CNB, said the bank is “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”.

For more information on the YELC and other CCMI educational programmes, go to the CCMI websiteTo donate to the YELC programme, email CCMI

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Category: Education, Marine Environment

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