Half Dozen Depart for Belize
the Smith College enters its
14th year, students are gearing up for another unforgettable
summer providing environmental education youth camps in San
Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize.
||The Smith Coral
Reef Ed-Ventures 2013 team (left to right): Alyssa
Stenek '13, Sarah Alper '15, Kiara Gomez '14, Sarah
Tucker '13, Dena Greenstreet '15, and Kayla Clark '14.
||Coral Reef Ed-Venture students put their creativity
to work on a marine biology project.
This year’s participants are
Alyssa Stanek ’13, a psychology and education and child
study major; Kayla Clark ’14, sociology); Sarah Tucker ’13,
biological sciences; Kiara Gomez ’14, geosciences; Dena
Greenstreet ’15, education and child study
and liberal studies; and Sarah Alper ’15, sociology.
students, along with David Smith, professor of biological
sciences, Al Curran, professor emeritus of geosciences, and
Denise Lello, research associate in biological sciences,
will team with staff at Hol Chan Marine Reserve to provide
educational summer programs for local youth.
teachers guide nearly 100 Belizean schoolchildren, aged 7
to 11, in a two-week, inquiry-based program about coral reefs.
Also offered is a one-week program for youth aged 12 and
above, during which the students produce a final project
to share with their community.
The programs integrate exploration
of the local reef and coastal environments through the study
of marine science, and make connections to the existing curricula
of the Belizean schools. Smith students will also engage
in research in conjunction with Smith faculty, to survey
the abundant populations of invertebrates on the reef and
to map and monitor mangroves and sea grass beds.
Barrier Reef, which extends more than 600 miles along the
coasts of southern Mexico, Belize, and northern Honduras,
is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Ambergris
Caye, a small island off the northeast coast of Belize, merits
its title of Belize’s
premier vacation destination due to its proximity to the
reef. Ambergris Caye depends on the reef ecologically as
well as economically, because a healthy coral reef and its
adjacent sea grass beds and mangrove communities are needed
to support tourism, provide storm protection, and sustain
Prompted by concerns about the
increasing amount of uncontrolled diving and fishing on and
near the reef, Belize established the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
in 1987. In partnership with Hol Chan staff, the Coral Reef
Ed-Ventures Program uses education to heighten community
awareness about the important economic, ecological, and aesthetic
benefits that coral reefs provide to Belize.
During the camp,
the Smith students use a wide variety of active-learning
techniques and creative materials to teach children concepts
about reef ecology, including field trips, crafts, skits,
games, and other hands-on activities. The program seeks to
inspire conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources
by providing children an opportunity to learn how healthy
reefs function, how various organisms interact with the reef,
what threats to the reef ecosystem exist, and how to protect
The Coral Reef Ed-Ventures Program
is sponsored by Smith’s Environmental Science & Policy