B.A.M.: My Introduction to the Bahamas

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Mangrove Education and Restoration Program Blog

Symone JohnsonSymone Johnson is a NOAA Knauss Fellow who is volunteering with KSLOF for the first phase of our mangrove education and restoration programs in the Caribbean in order to learn about managing, implementing, and evaluating education programs.  


This was my first year participating in the B.A.M. Program and my first visit to the Bahamas. I was excited to experience the culture and see the wonders of nature in Abaco. Most of all, I was looking forward to interacting with the students and teaching them about the mangrove ecosystem.

B.A.M.: My Introduction to the Bahamas
I was so happy to be in the Bahamas.

When we arrived at Abaco Central High School, the first thing I noticed was the painting of the marlin on the wall by the steps. Without knowing that the school’s mascot is a marlin, I was fascinated simply by the sight of the painting because I love seeing artwork of nature on buildings. As we walked upstairs to Ms. Dametra Moss’ classroom, the students greeted us with, “Good morning!” and many smiles. I was thoroughly impressed by their politeness. Once we reached the classroom, the Grade 10 students settled down and seemed eager to listen to Amy’s introduction of the program, but even more excited to go on the field trip that we had planned for the day.

Students listen to Amy's mangrove introduction.
Students eagerly listen to Amy’s mangrove program introduction.

Unfortunately during Amy’s introduction, I looked out the window and noticed the grey sky and rain falling to the ground. The students seemed to notice it as well because they were a little anxious but tried to remain focused on the lesson being taught. During the lesson, I was quite impressed with the students’ knowledge of the mangroves. Many of them were able to identify the different types of mangroves, their importance, and threats. Even still, they could not wait to get outside to the mangroves, but the rain was so heavy that a student was in the yard adding sand to puddles so his peers would be safe walking between classes. Given the rain, we had to postpone the trip until Thursday. As were leaving the school, I smiled when I saw a few students adding some finishing touches to the marlin on the wall as the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds.

B.A.M.: My Introduction to the Bahamas
This was the first thing I saw when we reached our sampling site at Camp Abaco. This view pulled me in and made me feel at peace to see such a beautiful scene.

On sunny Thursday morning we arrived back at Abaco Central High School and the Grade 10 students were boarding the bus in anticipation of the field trip to the mangroves. Upon arrival at Camp Abaco, we took a group picture then separated and began observing the different mangrove types.

Where are those pneumatophores
Students are using the sun to give them a better view of the pneumatophores on the black mangroves.

The students were happy to go into the water to get close to the red mangroves. They had no fear or worries about getting dirty. I was humbled to see their comfortability at the site and their appreciation for the environment. Any hesitance that I may have had about entering the sinking sand was dissolved after seeing those students in the water. The students collected the propagules and rinsed their shoes out before loading back into the bus to return to school.

Propagules raised
Ms. Moss’ Grade 10 class from Abaco Central High School showing off their collected propagules.

These two days with Abaco Central High School Grade 10 provided me with a proper introduction to the Bahamas. I was met with politeness and respect by each student as I walked around the school and during our lessons with the class. I experienced a morning downpour and a sun-beaming afternoon in one day. I was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm to share their current knowledge and to learn more about mangroves. I was greeted at Camp Abaco by a magnificent sight of crystal clear water teaming with life. I am forever grateful that my first trip to the Bahamas was during the B.A.M. Program.

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