Final Week and Back to Smith!

This past week was our last week in San Pedro. It was a week full of activities, emotions, and excitement. The team worked very hard to have everything ready for departure back to Smith and to finish Youth Camp.

On Monday, Emiline and Liz led a lesson focused on fossil fuels & renewable energy. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day so we couldn’t do the amazing solar ovens we had prepared beforehand, but the students had a chance to learn about where Belize’s energy comes from and other sources of energy besides oil. They also tried to clean an oil spill simulation in order to better understand the impact of off-shore drilling.

Tuesday was also a day full of activities, starting with Mariela from Hol Chan visiting us at camp. Mariela led an informative lecture about the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Belize and the different environments protected by them; the kids learned a lot about the history of MPAs and all about the marine life they protect. After that Aidan and Liz led the tragedy of the commons activity, in which the kids got to try their hand at (gold)fishing to understand resource exploitation. 

Wednesday we had two visitors come to camp: ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) and Paula and Shannon Riley from the Blackadore Project. Chris Summers and Ciaran O’ Mordha from ACES taught the students about the crocodiles in Belize, and they even brought a one-year-old American crocodile, Enchilada, for the students to meet. Paula and Shannon guided a lesson in which students learned about sea turtles’ life cycle and the actions that people around the world are taking in order to protect them. Paula also taught the students basics of drawing, and how to draw sea creatures using lines, angles, and simple traces. They ended the lesson with the students making four big murals, letting them try out their new drawing skills as they created a rainbow reef.

Thursday was our big graduation day, so students spent all the time in camp working on final projects. This year we decided to host a poster symposium, so all the campers prepared a poster to present about their favorite topic they learned in camp. Among the topics presented were: mangroves, renewable energy, sargassum, coral polyps, plastics, and pollution.Later in the evening, we hosted graduation at the San Pedro High School auditorium. The event was a success despite the rainy night, with families and friends gathered to hear the students present their posters and to see the projects that they have been working on during camp. The event culminated in 51 students making a pledge to use what they have learned in camp to protect their community as they proudly held up their new ‘reef protector’ cards.






On Friday, we hosted three glass-bottom boat trips as a closing activity for camp. The campers saw all the corals they had learned about in “Coral of the Day” through the glass bottom, as well as hoards of sharks at Shark Ray Alley. One group even got lucky and saw a few turtles! This was our last day with the students and it was a perfect way for us to close out Coral Ed 2018.

This week we are back at Smith preparing for our SURF presentation on Thursday and ensuring that all is in order for the next team STARRs. We hope you liked our posts about this year’s ed-venture and that you keep following us for next year, our big 20th year anniversary!!!

-Dana Vera & Team STARRs

 

 

 

Youth Camp — Week 1!

This week marked the beginning of our Youth Program which meant we were out the door bright and early on Monday morning to ensure that we had enough time to set up at San Pedro High School. With construction and other programs at the High School we found ourselves with only one classroom and not enough chairs, so we moved half of our camp activities for the day into the auditorium. We started our camp book about Wallie the Whale Shark and her travels around the world, learned our first coral, and then set off on our annual camp-opening beach cleanup! It was a hot day but the campers persevered and we collected lots of trash from the surrounding beach.

Some of the campers participating in the beach cleanup during day one of camp.

Day two of camp was our first day of lessons, and we started with Whales and Microbes — some of the largest and smallest ocean creatures. Emiline made light traps the night before to collect water and ocean organisms that the kids were able to look at using little microscope boxes, and in the other classroom we calculated how many students would fit inside different kinds of whales! After concluding that the blue whale was the largest we took a trip outsicapde and tried to fit the whole class in the length of the blue whale. The scale of the whale matched up perfectly to the auditorium size, which was a nice visual for the kids to use to imagine just how large whales can be.

The younger campers measuring out the length of a blue whale — 98 feet!

On Wednesday we finally had two classrooms with enough seats for all the kids, and camp started off smoothly. The kids made coral polyps out of marshmallows with Carla, and became a part of an ocean food web in Kate’s rotation to investigate how important every organism is to the food chain. Right after camp we trekked home and started making and bagging popcorn for our second and final Movie Night! The popcorn process took less time this time around, but still lasted about three hours and we ended up with 90 bags of popcorn. The weather wasn’t great on Wednesday afternoon so we were concerned about our turnout, but we ended up with about 30 kids and family members watching two episodes of Blue Planet II: Coral Reefs and Green Seas.

The younger kids starting to make their coral polyps with marshmallows.

A happy camper and a finished coral polyp!

Our snack table at movie night!

We brought our leftover movie popcorn to camp for a snack on day four, and did lots of coloring. Our two activities focused on adaptations and sargassum — the macroalgae that Al wrote about in a blog post last week that’s been covering the local beaches. In our adaptations rotation the kids got to draw themselves with the necessary adaptations to live in the deep ocean, and in our sargassum rotation they drew pictures of their beaches and local ecosystems before and after the presence of large amounts of sargassum.

Looking at sargassum under a microscope!

 

Friday was rainy again, and we had a smaller camp turnout because of it. We rescheduled one of our exciting guest visitors (you’ll hear about them in next weeks’ blog) and created a massive coral reef board game in the auditorium for the kids to play on to accompany the mangrove craft going on in the classroom. The board game was a success, as was so much of this week! 

Campers with their mangrove tree models on Friday.

The beginning of Youth Camp went by so quickly and we can’t believe we only have one more week here in San Pedro!

-Aidan Coffin Ness & Team STARRs

Sargassum Crisis on San Pedro Beaches!!!

You may well be asking – “So, what in the world is Sargassum, and what possibly could be the problem?”

Sargassum is a genus of brown macroalgae (might commonly be called seaweed) that can float at sea owing to the presence of berry-like, gas-filled bladders that provide buoyancy (Photos 1 & 2). Numerous species of Sargassum are present in the tropical and sub-tropical oceans of the world.

 

Photo 1: Close-up image of a piece of Sargassum from the beachfront of the Mayan Princess Hotel in San Pedro. Note the berry-like float structures.

Photo 2: Typical small mass of Sargassum floating near our patch reefs study area at Mexico Rocks, north of San Pedro. We observed numerous similar small masses on every dive.

In the western North Atlantic, the so-called “Sargasso Sea,” located south of Bermuda and east of Florida and the Bahamas, takes its name from the large masses of floating Sargassum that occur there. This was an ocean area that early western European navigators tried to avoid for fear of having their sailing ships becoming entangled in the floating masses.

Sargassum is not new to San Pedro beaches. What is new is the hugely increased volume of Sargassum that is washing up daily on Belizean beaches and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Reports of increased Sargassum throughout the Caribbean date back to 2011, with the primary source traced to South Atlantic waters off northeast Brazil and the mouth of the Amazon River. That’s a long and tortuous ride to Belize, but satellite images confirm this. Causes for the “Sargassum explosion” are not fully known and understood, but increased nutrient loading in coastal waters and warming ocean waters likely are contributing factors. You can check online for more information about the bigger picture – there are plenty of recent posts!

The big problem along coastlines like that of Ambergris Caye is that the Sargassumwashes into the very shallow waters of the beach zone and then gets stuck there (Photo #3). The Sargassum bakes in the shallow water, dies, and settles to be bottom, where the sheer mass of the algae smothers the underlying, naturally occurring beds of turtle grass that are so important to the nearshore ecosystem.  Even worse, the decaying mass sucks up all available oxygen in the shallow water column, resulting in very nasty water and fish kills.

Photo 3: Accumulation of Sargassum on the Mayan Princess Hotel beach over a 24-hour tidal cycle, June 19-20, 2018. This is nowhere near as extreme as the accumulations earlier this year (Photo 4), but it is far more Sargassum than what we have seen in June in previous years.

Photo 4: This is a major problem! San Pedro beaches were inundated by Sargassum in the spring. Photo courtesy of the San Pedro Sun newspaper, 30March18.

Significant fish kills were reported earlier this spring at several locations along the ocean-side coast of Ambergris Caye. The Coral Ed team has noted that the numbers of fish around the docks of Amigos del Mar (our long-time dive operators) are low, and the large sting rays that all enjoyed watching in the past now are MIA! As stated earlier, the Sargassum also is a real problem for beachfront hotels and restaurants plus for San Pedro city government officials in terms of the costs of Sargassum removal and disposal (photos 4 & 5) and “what to do next.”

Photo 5: Currently, workers of the city of San Pedro are raking up Sargassum daily, and large piles are everywhere. Needless to say, the piles are smelly and unsightly – not good for a tourist town and expensive to manage. Also, there is a big question as to just what to do with all this “stuff?” We have heard that the Sargassum is being burned somewhere outside of town, but this is unconfirmed. Casual dumping of Sargassum is occurring widely.

“Tropical Paradise” is very much an overused phrase for resort islands like Ambergris Caye. The citizens of “La Isla Bonita” face many challenges, both economic and environmental. Some issues are within direct control of the city council and environmental managers, including over-development, traffic control, trash removal, and over-fishing. Others, such as the threat of hurricanes, deteriorating coral reef health, and the “Sargassum crisis,” are global issues beyond direct local control. How both island residents and the global community address these challenges are open questions, with answers to be determined in the future. In any case, my guess is that no local city council or island-planning group could have seen the “Sargassum crisis” coming…

By Al Curran

Coral Ed 2018 – Ready to Go!

CORAL REEF ED-VENTURES 2018

This week the Coral Ed Team 2018 is getting ready to depart for San Pedro! Preparation week just started, and the STARRs are working very hard to get everything set before our departure. We wanted you to get to know our team this year, so we took a quick time out to write a little bit about ourselves.

OUR TEAM
  • Aidan Coffin Ness ‘20

Hi everyone! My name is Aidan Coffin Ness, and I am a rising junior at Smith studying Spanish and Education. I grew up camping with my family and learned at a young age to love and appreciate the nature around me, especially the water. Being in and around the water has always made me happy, and I have learned so much about water conservation and the oceans since I started at Smith. For the past four summers I have been working at a camp in the Northern US teaching young girls to appreciate the nature around them, which has shown me the importance of environmental education. I am so excited to be a part of the Coral Ed community in Belize this summer and to share my love of the ocean with the students!

 

  • Carla Schwartz ‘20

Hi everyone! My name is Carla Schwartz and I am a rising junior at Smith. I am majoring in Biology and minoring in Marine Science and Policy. I am particularly interested in conservation biology and what we can do to help both marine and terrestrial life survive. Next semester I will be traveling to Tanzania to do a Wildlife Management program, so I am very excited to be immersed in interactive research and learn more about  Belize in hopes that it will prepare me better for future experiences. I can’t wait to work with students and spread my passion for Biology. Getting to learn about the community and ecosystem in San Pedro will prove to be an unforgettable experience!  

  • Katherine Akey ‘20

Hello! My name is Katherine Akey and I am a rising junior majoring in Engineering at Smith College. I am particularly interested in Environmental Engineering and how engineering processes affect our environment. I grew up in Westminster, Maryland on a small organic family farm, so I am very excited to be in San Pedro and experience a place with ecosystems drastically different from the ones at home! I am looking forward to sharing my love of the ocean and science with the students at camp, and am very eager to get to Belize!

  • Liz Nagy ‘18

Hi all! My name is Liz Nagy, and I’m a recent Smith graduate with a degree in Environmental Science & Policy and East Asian Languages & Literatures. Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of work with coastal communities and coral reefs from Hawai’i to Tonga, so I’m excited to continue pursuing these passions in Belize. I think environmental education is very important, and that working with the community and exploring the natural landscape will be a great learning experience for everyone involved. I’m really looking forward to diving into marine science with the people of San Pedro!

  • Emiline Koopman ‘18J  Co-leader

Hi all! My name is Emiline and I am this year’s co-leader for the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program. I participated in Coral Reef Ed-Ventures in 2016, and I am very excited to be returning to San Pedro for another summer of research, community outreach, and environmental education. Since my last trip to San Pedro, I have had many great experiences to prepare me for this summer. I have worked on various community-based conservation projects in the Pacific Islands and I am thrilled to transfer the skills I have gained on marine protection to a Caribbean setting. Since graduating Smith College in January 2018, with a degree in Biology and a minor in Marine Science and Policy, I am ready to dedicate my career to these vital marine ecosystems which we will be experiencing first-hand this summer on Ambergris Caye.

  • Dana Vera ‘19 Co-Leader

Hi everyone! My name is Dana Vera and I am a rising senior at Smith studying Education and Mathematics. This is my second year in the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures Program and I am one of the Co-Leaders of the team this year. I am so excited to go back to San Pedro and see all of our wonderful campers again! Last summer it was my first time in Belize and I truly enjoyed it. This year I am excited to share the research and activities we do in San Pedro with our campers and have a lot of fun during our three weeks of summer camps.

 

THIS YEAR'S CAMPS:

This year we are celebrating our nineteenth year of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures Program.  We are excited to host our two annual summer camps: The REEF Program (Advanced) and the Youth Program. The theme of the year is CONNECTIONS: we will explore the connections we have with nature, the environment, and the community. Additionally, we are going to introduce the campers to research methods like mapping and coral identification, techniques we use when we analyze the data we collect in Belize.

Both of our camps will be held in the San Pedro High School, and the programs dates are the following:

REEF Program June 25th – 29th – For children ages 12 and up

Youth Program July 2nd – 12th – For children ages 7 to 11

COMING UP:

Keep tuning in for more blog posts as our Belize adventure unfolds! We are departing very early on June 3rd for our flights to Belize, and we will be keeping you updated as the Coral Ed-Ventures Program-2018 continues!

Look for more blog posts at:

https://sophia.smith.edu/blog/coraledventures/category/coral-ed-2018/

Please like our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/coralreefedventures/

-Dana Vera & Team STARRS

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Ed-Team 2018

Coral Reef Ed-Ventures 2018 welcomes Team STARRS:

Dana Vera (’19)

Emiline Koopman (’18J)

Liz Nagy (’18)

Kate Akey (’20)

Aidan Coffin Ness (’20)

Carla Schwartz (’20)

The STARRS are busy planning for a summer of creating connections with the community of San Pedro, Belize.

Our trip to the mainland! – Week 3

Week 3 has been an exciting week for our team! We started the week with a trip to the Mainland and we are ending it with Lobster Fest!

On Saturday morning we took the water taxi that would take us to Belize City. At our arrival, we met Marcos from Programme for Belize, who was our amazing guide for the whole trip.

 

Lamanai

We started our adventure at Lamanai, which once was a major city of the Mayan civilization. The ruins of this city are completely excavated, which made our way to the top of the temples way easier! We started hiking the Mask Temple and continued our way to High Temple and Jaguar Temple. It was not until we hiked the High Temple that we realized how big of a city Lamanai was. The view from the top was spectacular! We could see the whole site, the New River, and the highway that we used to get to the site. During our walk, Marcos showed us how the temples looked before and told us that Lamanai was one of the cities that survived the longest thanks to their proximity to the New River. Another interesting fact about Lamanai is the findings of copper in the ruins which indicate that Lamanai was a big trading center for the Mayans. We finished our trip to the ruins by having a delicious lunch at “Las Orquideas Restaurant” which is a restaurant established and run by a group of 8 women from the town. 

 Coral Ed Team at the Entrance of the ruins

Our wonderful guide Marcos!


Mask Temple


The view from High Temple

Team STARRS at the top of High Temple

Coral Ed Team at the top of Jaguar Temple

 

 

Hill Bank Field Station

Our trip continued to Hill Bank, the field station where we stayed for the weekend. Hill Bank is a conservation field station that runs on 100% solar power, has no-flush composting toilets and a rainwater collection system. Hill Bank is located in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, the largest private conservation area owned by the people of Belize and managed by a nonprofit organization: Programme for Belize. As soon as we arrived at the station we were welcomed as part of their community. After we had a delicious dinner prepared by the cooks, Marcos took us on a night walk. Although some of us were terrified of the frogs, toads, spiders, and ants,  the night walk was great! We got to see tarantulas, army ants, deer, and river toads. After the walk, we headed out to our dorms and cabanas. The trip ended with a wonderful bird walk in the morning at Hill Banks, and with a visit to a Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary on our way back to San Pedro.

Team STARRS outside our dorms

Trail Walk at Hill Bank

 

Preparation for Lobster Fest!

Our adventures ended on Monday with a pretty cool night dive to say goodbye to David and Denise. Now our team is working hard on our Lobster Fest costumes, stay tuned to hear more about how it goes!

 

– Dana Vera & The Coral Ed Team

 

To learn more about Hill Bank Field Station and Programme for Belize click here: http://www.pfbelize.org/tourism/?page_id=20

 

The Rock! by Al Curran

*Note to readers: this blog is a bit more involved and in-depth than our normal reports, but given that this is our “Science Research Week” on Ambergris, it seems appropriate.  Please bear with me….

 

Just one very special rock sample can tell us much about the geological history of Ambergris Caye, including stages of major global climate change that occurred in the not too distant geological past. The island is very low, mostly less than 2 meters above present sea level, and long north to south, but narrow east to west, very much like the barrier islands of the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast. Also like the barriers islands, Ambergris is young geologically. Relatively hard limestone of Late Pleistocene age (~120,000 yrs. before present = ybp) lies just below present-day sand, soil, and vegetation, and this limestone unit runs essentially north-south to form the “spine” of the island.

 

Image #1 shows the stratigraphic column (1.5 meters) exposed in a recent cut along the entry road to a new and large development on North Ambergris Caye called Grand Belizean Estates (GBE). This is a huge development of about 1,200 small lots on ~190 acres of mostly low, mangroves-covered land. Apparently most of the lots have been sold, but only a few houses have been built to date. GBE is a story unto itself and for another time.

 

The stratigraphic column and our rock sample (Image #2) reveal a thick, fossiliferous bed (Unit 1) at the base of the section and an overlying brown, hard, thinly laminated layer of material called caliche (Unit 2). Unit 1 contains a diverse fauna of marine mollusks (Image #3 – mostly fossil bivalves, with scattered gastropods), indicating conditions of shallow-marine sediment deposition during the Last Interglacial (~130-115,000 ybp), when sea level was up to +6-9 meters higher than today and the climate was warm.

 

The arrow in Image #2 marks a profound change in depositional conditions and also in global climate. Sea level dropped abruptly beginning about 115,000 ybp with the onset of the Last Glacial, when large and thick continental ice sheets formed on the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere continents and spread south.  At peak ice advance (~20,000 ybp), sea level had dropped by about 130 meters below present level. The land that today is Ambergris was literally high, fully exposed, and connected to the mainland, so not an island at that time!

 

During this time of glacial conditions, which lasted for about 100,000 years, the limestone of Unit 1 was exposed at the surface, and subject to dissolution by naturally weakly acidic rainwater. As the limestone was slowly dissolved away, a thin, laminated rind of iron-rich microcrystalline calcite formed, followed by additional laminae comprising Unit 2. This is the caliche layer, and the brown color reflects its iron content. Source of the iron also is a story for another time. Interestingly, the slowly-forming, relatively thin caliche layer represents about 100,000 years of global glaciation, whereas the rapidly deposited, much thicker limestone layer represents only about 10 to 15 thousand years of interglacial time.

At about 11,000 ybp, the continental ice sheets began to melt and rapidly recede; concurrently, sea level began to rise. This change also marks the beginning of the Holocene Epoch, our present interglacial time of warm climate. As sea level reached the edge of the Belizean continental shelf, the Mesoamerican barrier coral reef began to develop. With more flooding of the land, the island of Ambergris Caye took form. Sea level continues to rise today, and this presents a major challenge for the developed parts of Ambergris. Our Coral Ed seawalls and mangroves projects are both addressing aspects of this challenge.

 

 

Image captions:

Image #1: The stratigraphic section on the entry road to Grand Belizean Estates (scale = 1.5 m; yellow box indicates collection point for the rock sample of Image #2).

 

Image #2: The rock sample with units numbered; arrow marks the important stratigraphic contact between Last Interglacial and Last Glacial depositional conditions.

Image #3: Close-up of Unit 1 fossil-rich beds; bivalve (clam) shell fossils are dominant.

 

Al Curran & The Coral Ed Team

 

 

 

School Recruiting and The Skit – 12 June 2017

With school visits in San Pedro to recruit kids for the summer camps, program fund-raising, advertising the camps on local radio and TV, and fieldwork for three ongoing marine science research projects, Week 2 is a very busy time for the Coral Ed Team. Yesterday morning, the Team made a recruiting visit to the Roman Catholic Elementary School. Unlike in the States, Belize does not have a truly public elementary school system. Rather the elementary schools are religiously affiliated or “for profit” private schools. The RC school is by far the largest elementary school in San Pedro with an enrollment of ~900 students, so it is prime recruiting ground for the Coral Ed program.

 

The team was up and out early to present a skit to advertise the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures youth camp (ages 7-11) and the R.E.E.F. camp (formerly known as Advanced Camp, this year’s team has created a new name: Reef Ecology & Environment = Fun). By 8 a.m., the entire student body of the RC School was assembled and called to order in the main square of the school campus (Photos #1 & 2). After a brief opening ceremony (Photo #3) and with the team “on the bench” (Photo #4), team leader Mandy Castro took over to advertise the camps and to introduce our student teachers (Photo #5). The skit (Photo #6) was designed to present the activities of the youth camp in a fun format that would generate interest among the students and encourage them to sign up with permission slips, now available at several central places in town.

 

The Skit went over well and got enthusiastic applause. We hope to register about 80 to 100 students to our Youth Camp and at least 15 students for R.E.E.F. camp. Just what would happen if we attracted more than 100 kids is a big unknown, but the potential certainly is there…!

 

Photo #1: RC students forming up for assembly, just before 8 a.m. on Monday, June 12.

Photo #2: Overview of central campus square, RC School, San Pedro, with the entire school population present.  The Coral Ed team is on stage, lower right.

 

Photo #3: Students prepare to sing an opening song.

 

Photo #4: Coral Ed Team “on the bench;” L-R: Sabrina, Emily, Jasmine, Mandy, Abby, Dana.

Photo #5: Mandy on center stage, introducing the Team.

Photo #6: The Team in action.

-Allen Curran & The Coral Ed Team

Coral Ed Prep Week 1 – Smith College

Preparation Week – Smith College

June 2, 2017

Coral Reef Ed-Ventures 2017 faculty and student team.

Hello all! Coral Ed is back, and this is our first blog post of 2017!  We are currently working very hard preparing for all the fun, engaging, and interesting activities we will be conducting in San Pedro, Belize. Preparation week just started, and we have a lot to do! Nonetheless, we would like you to know what is coming up, and we also want you to meet us!


Week 1: Team members preparing on campus.

Theme for 2017:

This year’s theme is Marine Protected Areas. We are hoping to get the community and the students engaged in conversations about the history of the Belizean Barrier Reef and its future under marine protection. In this camp, the students will explore their roles as friends of the reef. We are hoping to put together a very fun, engaging, and interesting camp!

Meet our STARRS:

 

Left to Right: Emily Hitchcock ’19, Sabrina Cordero ’19, Dana Vera ’19,                          Mandy Castro ’17 (Team Leader), Jasmine Pacheco-Ramos ’19, Abby Onos ’17.

  • Mandy Castro – Class of 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Mandy Castro and I just graduated from Smith with a degree in Biology and a minor in Education & Child Studies. From a young age growing up along the coast of San Diego, California, I have been fascinated by the ocean and marine biology, so it has been such a pleasure to be a part of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program for the past two summers. The research I have conducted as part of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program was used to complete my Honors Thesis, where I characterized the hard and soft corals of Mexico Rocks, a recently established marine protected patch reef complex located north of San Pedro. I am very enthusiastic and eager to be back in Belize for a third summer of Coral Ed because I understand the impacts and value environmental education has on this local community!

  • Abby Onos – Class of 2017

Hello everyone! My name is Abby Onos and I just graduated from Smith with a degree in Biology and a minor in Studio Art. I participated in research on microbial diversity during my time at Smith, and I recently completed an Honors Thesis exploring patterns of diversity in microbial communities of tide pools. I grew up in South Portland, Maine and have been a competitive swimmer for most of my life, so I’ve always loved the water and all things marine. I’m so excited to join the Coral-Ed team this summer and have the opportunity to share my passion for ocean science with the kids in San Pedro!

  • Emily Hitchcock – Class of 2019

Hi, my name is Emily Hitchcock, and I am at rising junior at Smith. I am majoring in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Sustainable Food, and I am particularly passionate about environmental education. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts, and I have an identical twin sister! I love to spend time outside, especially with children, and I work as a garden assistant at Smith during the year. I have enjoyed working at a summer camp for the past few summers but never in a place as cool as Belize! I am so excited to meet everyone in San Pedro and to see what we can all learn from each other!

  • Dana Vera – Class of 2019

Hi everyone! My name is Dana Vera, and I am a rising junior at Smith studying Mathematics and Education. I am focusing my studies on teaching middle and high school science and innovation. I am very interested in the program because it incorporates science outreach into a Latin American community. It hits home for me because I come from Paraguay, and I hope that when I graduate I will go back home and do the same type of work there. I can’t wait to meet and have fun learning experiences with all the students in San Pedro.

  • Jasmine Pacheco – Class of 2019

Hi! My name is Jasmine Pacheco-Ramos, and I’m a rising junior at Smith majoring in Environmental Science and Policy. I’ve always been interested in environmental science, but only recently have I discovered my passion for marine ecology. I’m from New York City and have never had much exposure to the water growing up. However this year, I’ve learned how to swim, taken marine courses, and used drones to contribute to research on sea turtles in Georgia. I’ve also been tutoring and teaching children for several years. I enjoy working with children and teaching because it allows me to share what I know with others. I look forward to being a part of the community in Belize and share my passion for marine ecology with the students.

  • Sabrina Cordero – Class of 2019

Hello all! My name is Sabrina Cordero, and I am a rising junior at Smith majoring in Biology and French Studies. I am mostly interested in Marine Ecology and Conservation and believe that language is essential for communicating science among numerous communities. This past year I did research with Mandy on the patch reefs in Mexico Rocks, and I am so excited to finally see reefs in person! I love working with students and experiencing the joy and excitement that comes from learning. I think it’s an extremely valuable experience to work with the students, as they will be learning more about the amazing ecosystem they live in. I can’t wait to learn more about the community and to work with all of the wonderful students in San Pedro!

Coming up

Keep looking for more blog posts as our trip approaches! We are departing very early on June 4th for our flights to Belize, and we will be keeping you updated as the Coral Ed-Ventures Program-2017 continues!

Look for more blog posts at: https://sophia.smith.edu/blog/coraledventures/2017-2/

Please like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/smithcoraled/

 

-Dana Vera & Team STARRS