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Stewards of the Reef

Each summer, Smith students in the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program travel to San Pedro, Belize, to promote community awareness of and appreciation for coral reef ecology and preservation. Through creative teaching methods, the students work to help the next generation in Belize to become environmentally aware citizens.

Belize depends on the reef economically and ecologically: fishing is one of the country's main industries, and the reef contains many unique species of marine life. The survival and growth of the country depend on keeping the reef healthy and clean; yet it is being threatened by pollution, overfishing and natural disasters.

The teachers in the program use unconventional methods to appeal to all styles of learning, employing poetry writing, nature walks, experiments, arts and crafts, stories, games and guest speakers. Students participate in small group discussions to apply the lessons from the reef and the community to broader ethical questions, such as the intrinsic value of life. Program participants also spend a few days in the local schools in Belize, showing teachers creative ways to incorporate inquiry-based learning of marine sciences into their curricula. Educating children about the reef and its ecosystem will encourage them to respect and protect it as they get older.

Angela Oliverio '12 gives her feedback on the program: "Coral Ed-Ventures is not only an amazing opportunity for the children in San Pedro to learn more about their environment and surroundings, but to learn to share that information with members of their community...What a great opportunity to learn, debate and reflect with San Pedro on issues of conservation and community."