Celebrating Environmental Stewardship of B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. Graduates

Written by

As the academic year comes to a close, we celebrate all the graduates out there. This year, I’m particularly filled with pride and excitement as I celebrate the achievements of my students in the Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves (B.A.M.) and Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) programs, who have successfully completed their first year. While this milestone might not have carried the same weight in previous years, it holds a unique significance for me because it marks the first cohort of students to navigate our programs after pausing the programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. programs were created with the goal of nurturing environmental awareness and conservation among young minds. By immersing students in the world of mangroves—an ecologically significant and biologically diverse ecosystem—we aimed to instill a sense of stewardship for these invaluable habitats…

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

Written by

Saskia is a student at the University of Bremen, Germany, doing her master’s degree in International Studies in Aquatic Tropical Ecology (ISATEC). As part of her research, Saskia spent several months working on her master’s thesis in Jamaica, studying the …

Marine Biologist for a Day

Through Alligator Head Foundation (AHF), my daughter is now able to explore her dream of becoming a marine biologist in a fun and engaging way.

When we arrived at AHF, Denise Henry, a marine biologist and the Research Programme Manager, made sure to give my daughter and her friend, both homeschoolers, a warm welcome. She was excited to chat with us about the academic requirements for marine biology and mentioned other fascinating career paths it can lead to, such as journalism, law, and photography. We were lucky enough to take a tour of the wet labs where AHF are growing corals for restoration. At the same time, we got the scoop on some of the projects they’re currently working on. It was…

Together Again: The Return of B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N.

Written by

The chilly winter season doesn’t seem so dreary now that I’m returning, not only to Jamaica to implement the second phase of our Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) program, but I’m also getting the Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves (B.A.M.) program operational again …

Connecting Students to Nature

Written by

The sun is blazing intensely in a cloudless sky, and the lack of a breeze makes the sulfur, rotten egg-like smell even more intense. It feels like 95°F (35°C) and I am sweating profusely as I trudge through the mangroves, one of my favorite marine ecosystems. It feels like home to me.

After two and a half years of putting the J.A.M.I.N. program on hold, I am quickly reminded how much I missed not only teaching and interacting with students face-to-face, but also being in the mangroves. The same feelings happen to me every time I venture into this amazing ecosystem: feelings of curiosity, awe, and respect, mixed with a sense of calm tranquility. And it is these same kinds of feelings we hope to foster in our students while they participate in our program…

Welcome, Saskia! KSLOF welcomes a master’s student to study our Mangrove Education & Restoration Program

Written by

Six months ago, I was certain that I would be travelling to Indonesia to research mangrove crabs for my master’s thesis. The project was funded, and I was prepared to leave for Indonesia when suddenly, I received information that local fishermen could not catch enough crabs for me to conduct research. At such a late date, this was incredibly stressful news!

Around this time, I began to wonder if I could picture myself in the biological sciences or if I should make a step towards the field of social science. During my travels around the world, I was always interested (and often shocked) to observe the interaction between humans and nature. A few years ago, I travelled to southeast Asia to study whale shark populations. While studying these majestic creatures, I noticed the interactions occurring between tourists and the whale sharks. I had moments where I was frustrated, angry, and emotional, seeing whale sharks startle tourists who would fearfully kick and hit the whale sharks. Not only did I get angry at the tourists but at the local people working in this industry; however, after getting to know the locals and seeing their dismal economic situation, I began to think differently. I wanted to understand local people and their problems. I realized that in order to make a difference, you need to incorporate social sciences into environmental science, so that both can find a way to live in harmony.

We be J.A.M.I.N. Again!

Written by

I see the twinkle of anticipation in my colleagues’ eyes as they hold up their phones waiting to record me filling my lungs to say, “Gooooood moooorning, Port Antonio High School!” My colleagues at Alligator Head Foundation beam and I grin back at them and wink. We have all waited two and a half years for this moment. This long-awaited welcome officially marks the start of the Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) and it feels good to be J.A.M.I.N. again.

The last time I was in Jamaica implementing J.A.M.I.N. was in early February 2020, before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. When the pandemic hit, none of us imagined that it would be years until we could implement the program again. It crushed me when we had to cancel the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year and then again, the following year. Now, we renew program again with more enthusiasm than ever.

Our partners at the Alligator Head Foundation and the University of the West Indies Discovery Bay Marine Lab are by my side aiding me in implementing the program. I couldn’t be more overjoyed to be working with them again. We fell right back into routine with each other as if no time had passed at all.

J.A.M.I.N. Students First to Investigate for Mangrove Disease in Port Antonio

Written by

Giggles, chatter, and the sound of squeaking rubber boots echoed through the mangrove forest surrounding Alligator Head Foundation, where second year J.A.M.I.N. students from Port Antonio and Titchfield High Schools trudged through the thick mangrove mud to reach their square quadrats. Inside the quadrats, they used scientific equipment to collect data for a variety of environmental parameters such as salinity, dissolved oxygen, and mangrove tree height. They also gathered red mangrove leaves that contain necrotic (dead) tissue. The students later conducted an investigation to see if these leaves contained the presence of a disease-causing fungus.

Titchfield High School – A Window into History

Written by

The last time I was at Titchfield High School in Port Antonio, Jamaica, I took a moment to look out the window at the old cannons that line the walls separating the school from the clear turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I was there with my colleagues from Alligator Head Foundation to implement the J.A.M.I.N. program. It’s hard not to let my imagination run wild, wondering what happened on this spot centuries ago when, long before it became a high school, it was a well-armed British defensive structure called Fort George. And so, the story begins…