Young Bahamian Environmental Stewards begin BESS scholarship journey

Young Bahamian Environmental Stewards begin BESS scholarship journey
Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Research and Environmental Education Officer Mallory Raphael teaches students how to outplant corals onto a reef. (PHOTO: BREEF)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — After another year of hybrid learning, four new Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) are ready for in-person experiential learning through the BESS programme.

Applicants from New Providence, Eleuthera, and Grand Bahama competed for coveted seats in this gap year programme offered by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) and The Island School.

Asia Butler

Scholars for the 2022-2023 BESS Programme are Asia Butler from Harbour Island All Age School, Taye Fountain from Lucayan International School, Darielle Bullard from Bishop Michael Eldon School, and Gayle Burrows from Queen’s College. Each scholar will spend a life-changing semester at The Island School at Cape Eleuthera, in addition to a four-month paid internship at BREEF.

Recognizing the growing need to solve problems in a rapidly changing world, BREEF and The Island School mentor these independent students through solutions-based learning and scientific research internships. Upon completion of the programme each scholar leaves well equipped to lead The Bahamas into a more sustainable future.

Asia Butler has shown exceptional leadership as the president of the Bahamas Plastic Movement Ocean Ambassador’s Club as well as inspiring her community with her backyard gardening.

Taye Fountain

Butler said: “During the pandemic Bahamians were struck with fear over possible food shortages which could be prevented by encouraging agricultural jobs and making agriculture an important part of our education system, thus increasing food security and bringing us one step closer to a plastic-free community.”

Taye Fountain is a Maritime Cadet also involved with Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas.

Darielle Bullard

Fountain said: “I am an avid swimmer, spear fisherman, boater, and scuba diver. I believe I can take much of what I have learned from my environmental education and implement it to inform others of ways in which the economy and country can develop without damaging our environment”

Darielle Bullard is a Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Cadet and also in the Maritime Cadet Corps. She gives back to her community through Anchor Club and Interact and loves diving with sharks.

“My passion is nature and marine life,” Bullard said.

“I like to help clean up the beach with my friends and visit Owl Hole. I plan to major in marine biology, and BESS will show me how to make a difference in the Bahamas and have fun while I accomplish my goals.”

Gayle Burrows participates in Green Team Eco Club, Aquaponics, and the Model UN. She realizes the impending doom of warming oceans and climate change and has worked with youth to shape their future.

Gayle Burrrows

“I have always wanted to contribute to my home, The Bahamas, by preparing children in younger generations to see that they have to take care of and preserve the environment because it’s our home,” Burrows said.

Since 2008, 55 young Bahamians have benefitted from this exceptional educational experience, with most scholars going on to pursue related tertiary studies or being currently employed in the environmental field.

The BESS Programme is a collaboration between BREEF and The Island School with over $160,000 provided in scholarships from The Island School to make the programme possible.