Coral Reef Ed-Ventures is an environmental education collaboration between Smith College’s Environmental Science and Policy Program and Hol Chan Marine Reserve on Ambergris Caye, Belize. This program was established 18 years ago by Professors Allen Curran (Geosciences), Paulette Peckol (Biological Sciences), and Susan Etheredge (Education and Child Studies). It is currently led by Professor David Smith (Biological Sciences and Environmental Science and Policy) and Dr. Denise Lello (Research Associate in Biological Sciences). Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program began with two Smith student teachers and a few children. Currently a team of six Smith student teachers engage over seventy kids in two education camps!
The mission of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures is creation of an educational program designed to increase awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of conserving and sustaining a healthy reef ecosystem.
The program involves 4 main components:
- A marine environmental education youth camp for local schoolchildren ages 7 through 11.
- A research oriented program for older children, many of whom are “graduates’ of the youth camp.
- Engaging Smith students in coral reef-related research with Smith College professors and our local partners at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve on Ambergris Caye.
- Interactions with the local community that advance appreciation for the invaluable marine resources of the region.
Our environmental education program uses experiential, place-based education to build a community of youth who are confident stewards of their local environment. Belizean children participate in research, create art work and other forms of media media, play games and interact with community members engaged in conservation work.
The Central American country of Belize is bordered to the north by Mexico and to the west and south by Guatemala. Ambergris Caye is an island off the northern coast of Belize, and San Pedro is its only town. The Meso-American barrier reef is a half-mile from the shore of Ambergris Caye and continues for a total length of 1,000 miles. It is visible as a white line of breaking surf in the crystal clear sea. In 1987, Belize created Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a marine protected area. Hol Chan Marine Reserve covers four zones around the island including mangroves, sea grass and coral reef environments.