November 8, 2001 - San Pedro Sun: Peace Corps Volunteer Jill Hepp teaches the preservation and protection of marine life

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Belize: Peace Corps Belize : The Peace Corps in Belize: November 8, 2001 - San Pedro Sun: Peace Corps Volunteer Jill Hepp teaches the preservation and protection of marine life

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 11:44 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Jill Hepp teaches the preservation and protection of marine life

Peace Corps Volunteer Jill Hepp teaches the preservation and protection of marine life

Green Reef/SAGA team up for education

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize Vol. 11, No. 44 November 8, 2001

Features: Search Issues | Read Back Issues | Subscriptions | Merchandise Ordering Information

LIFE students listen attentively to Green Reef/SAGA lecturers

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."

Green 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 as well.

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 population.

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 classes.

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".

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: San Pedro Sun

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Belize; Environment; Reefs



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.