|LIFE students listen attentively to Green Reef/SAGA
Two "worthy causes" in San Pedro; one
working for the preservation and protection of marine life, the other for the
kind and humane treatment of animal life, have joined forces for the
enlightenment of our children - and hopefully others. Ms. Jill Hepp from Green
Reef and Dr. Bronwen Eastwood of SAGA Humane Society have united their efforts
to educate the island's school children to ensure that future generations will
be able to enjoy the wonders of "La Isla Bonita."
Reef is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining and conserving
Belize's marine and coastal resources. One way to accomplish this long-term goal
is to start with the basics - education at the primary school level. Jill Hepp
explained, "If we begin the education process at this level, it is more likely
these children will retain what they have learned and have a better
understanding of why we must work for the preservation of our barrier reef and
coastal zones. We need to develop their ethics now and teach them how their
actions will eventually affect their environment." Green Reef has initiated their first Environmental
Awareness classes at Lydia's Institute of Fine Education (LIFE). Three days per
week, students from Beginners through Standard VI classes delight in 45-minute
lectures on subjects including corals, mangroves, sea grass and pollution. The
first three presentations deal with the primary habitats that need to be
conserved for marine life to thrive. Ms. Hepp stated, "Children can relate to
these subjects because these habitats are within their reach. Most of them have
visited or will someday visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve and live within walking
distance of the others." Ms. Hepp also mentioned that a few of these children
attended a marine life summer camp and remembered much from that course of study
Materials for these classes are
provided from several sources including Coastal Zone Management Authority and
Institute, and Peace Corps, the organization Ms. Hepp volunteers for and which
brought her to Belize. Fellow Peace Corps volunteer Kenneth Coonrod also aids in
her quest to inform. "We try to make it interesting with interactive lesson
plans featuring games and ëhands-on' exercises with corals, etc., all dealing
with marine biology," Ms. Hepp explained. Green Reef also hopes to lessen the
burden on teachers by providing assistance with their resources.
The next school to be enriched by these environmental
classes will be La Isla Bonita Elementary, but Green Reef would like to include
all the primary schools on the island. Anyone school interested in having this
incorporated into their curriculum may contact Green Reef at 2833 or leave a
message for Jill Hepp at St. Matthew's, 3254.
Doing their part
for the animals of "La Isla Bonita" is the island's humane society SAGA.
Determined to control the stray cat and dog population in our community, this
non-profit organization is dedicated to preventing cruelty and promoting
kindness to animals. SAGA's ultimate goal is to establish an animal
shelter/education center in San Pedro, but until then, their aim is to instruct
the people of San Pedro in ways they can help control the domestic animal
In order to fulfill SAGA's goals, Dr. Bronwen
Eastwood has developed an 8-week course for Standard II primary school children.
She explained that studies done by the International Humane Society show that
this group is targeted because they are more attentive and receptive to learning
at this age. They are also more apt to pass on the lessons they learn to their
siblings and parents. Assisting her in this endeavor is, none other than, Jill
Hepp, who says she has found teaching to be something she really enjoys. When
veterinary emergencies detain the doctor, Ms. Jennifer McCreary also aids with
SAGA classes are currently being
held once a week at Island Academy and LIFE. The 45-minute lesson plans include
hand-outs, visual aids and live animal handling demonstrations. Children are
very interested and share many stories about their involvement with animals.
Classroom discussions involve how wild animals became domesticated pets, how to
choose a pet, basic pet care, how to avoid dog bites, and humane treatment of
all animals. Dr. Eastwood explained, "We want each child to come away from this
course with respect for animals and a knowledge of the responsibility that comes
with owning a pet. Healthy animals and animal population control help to create
a healthier community."
One of the more interesting
visual lessons involve cats made out of felt put onto a felt board. The goal is
to eliminate over-population of domestic animals. The demonstration shows that
one child's cat, because it has not been spayed (sterilized) has gotten fat
(pregnant), and gives birth to four kittens. These five cats, in turn, become
"fat" and each produces more kittens. Each child is asked to take a kitten, but
eventually there are more kittens than children who are able to take one home.
The question presented to the class is what to do with all the unwanted kittens.
At the end of the lesson the board is filled with felt cats and can hold no
more. The lesson learned is, by choosing NOT to sterilize one cat, it produced
52 kittens in a one-year period, and these 52 kittens may also become mothers of
countless other unwanted kittens.
Dr. Eastwood stated
that at the end of the 8-weeks, homework and lessons are combined into booklets
and given to each child to keep. Each child then receive the title of "SAGA
Superstar!" Other schools interested in scheduling classes may contact SAGA
Society at 3266.
Hats off to these individuals for
providing this environmental education which is needed to sustain our paradise
and which will keep "La Isla-Muy Bonita".