Connecting Students to Nature

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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

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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.

J.A.M.I.N. Students’ Discovery a First for Port Antonio

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Despite an earthquake, our resilient J.A.M.I.N. students from Port Antonio and Titchfield High Schools were back in their classrooms and ready to investigate the presence of mangrove disease earlier this year. Our students were the first to research the occurrence of mangrove disease in Port Antonio, Jamaica. They were ready and eager to begin.

Mangrove Tannin: The Power of Healing

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Throughout human history, compounds found in plants and animals have been used to heal an array of medical conditions. Traditional medicine, sometimes referred to as “bush” or “folk” medicine, was used to treat ailments prior to the emergence of modern medicine. Many of these customs are still being practiced today. The healing properties of mangroves were first discovered by those practicing traditional medicine. Like with modern-day medicine, many of its uses were discovered through trial and error. When a cure worked, the knowledge and information was passed along from generation to generation.

Mangrove Tannin: What is it?

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In January, our second-year J.A.M.I.N. students were tasked with collecting a variety of growth measurements from the mangrove trees that they tagged and identified inside their quadrats. Before we started, I wanted to review the characteristics that are unique to each species of mangroves, a skill they learned previously during the first year of the program. I decided to quiz the students instead. “How can we identify the red mangrove?” I asked. The replies came quickly. “Prop and drop roots.” “Pointy, thick leaves.” “Green bean-like propagules.” All correct. But among the flurry of eager replies, one stood out as several students shouted in unison. “Red tannin!”

Mangrove Detectives

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Scientists are looking to students across the Caribbean for their help studying the health of mangrove forests. This week, Dr. Ryann Rossi, a post-doctoral scholar at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), launched the Mangrove Detectives Project with help from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and Friends of the Environment. Mangrove Detectives is a new citizen-science project that teaches students valuable laboratory and field skills while they document mangrove disease and insect communities in their local mangrove forest. The project provides teachers, non-profit organizations, and environmental educators with free lesson plans, field kits, and laboratory materials to help their students study threats to their local mangrove forest and become part of an international community of Mangrove Detectives.

Students Tackle World Water Crisis

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Water quality monitoring is extremely important in keeping mangroves healthy. That is why we teamed up with EarthEcho International to have students in our B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. programs participate in the EarthEcho Water Challenge. The water quality data (such as salinity, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen content) that they collect, will be shared with other students from around the world.

J.A.M.I.N. Student Voices

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Previously, you heard the voice of the students in our B.A.M. program. Now it’s time to hear how the students in Jamaica feel about our J.A.M.I.N. program. Year 1 Program   “My favorite part of the J.A.M.I.N. program is when I actually got to …

B.A.M. Student Voices

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Throughout the B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. programs, we evaluate each program by surveying students in each of the three phases. We use this information to gage how much information the students initially know regarding mangroves and their attitudes towards them before we begin the programs. …