Two weeks of STENAPA Kids Summer Club started on July 27th and ended on August 7th. The first week catered to those aged 8-11 and the second week catered to those 12-15. Each year, the program hopes to encourage a group of children to respect and protect nature on Statia.
Two activities are always part of the schedule, from year to year, no matter the age group. These are Iguana Patrol and Snorkeling. This year, the children not only went on patrol for our local Lesser Antillean Iguana, but they improved their identification skills.
There is confusion between the invasive iguana, officially named the Green Iguana (scientific name Iguana iguana), and the young and/or female local iguana. The latter iguanas are green in colour but not in name. You can tell the difference by looking at certain features like a striped tail and a large scale on the cheek (that is not the ear).
Snorkeling always aims to improve their snorkeling skills so they can observe the marine world clearly. They all went further this year by practicing some marine research: naming and counting the animals they saw. First, they observed the fish, then they counted the corals and urchins they saw in the area.
Sea Turtle Beaches
The younger children went to Zeelandia Beach and the vegetable garden at the Miriam C Schmidt Botanical Garden, while the older children went to the ReforeStatia Nursery and hiked the Panorama Trail in The Quill. Sea turtles are a migratory species that tend to nest on the same beach every 2-3 years. The most popular sea turtle beaches on Statia are Zeelandia Beach and Turtle Beach. We need to protect these beaches. The children learnt how to conduct a sea turtle patrol such as how to find a nest based on measurements from set points, measure a nesting sea turtle, the dangers of cliff falls for nests and nesting sea turtles, and how the planting of trees on the cliff can prevent cliff falls.
Also, that it is difficult and hopefully unnecessary work to create a barrier from roaming livestock for the new trees.
On Thursday, July 30th, the younger children planting ocra in a dormant vegetable garden bed. Subsequently, they can visit the garden occasionally help us water then harvest the ocra. They went home with potted thyme, that is already ready for harvesting. The children are to water the thyme and to pick small pieces when needed.
The visit to the ReforeStatia Nursery started with two groups competing to build the food forest on the site. After learning the features of a functional forest, each group chose their plants and selected their random spots withing the general food forest plot. They then created ‘seed bombs’ using seeds that they brought from home. Once dried, the children then got the mud balls to take home and care for. This will give them an idea of how long seed bombs will take to germinate. A few children took home a sea grape sapling.
The Quill, Panorama
This visit to the nursery related closely to their hike to Panorama, up The Quill. They will be able to have an overview of the island and its vegetation. In addition, the group saw that the areas with no trees was also the areas with the most erosion (the eastern cliffs).
Mini Kids Council
To wrap up, the children were asked on the last day of the second week: What can STENAPA and locals do together to improve (iguana populations/marine environment/sea turtle populations/protection of trees)? We ask you the same question. How can you work with your local nature foundation to conserve nature around us?
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