Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- 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. The invasive iguana, officially named the Green Iguana (scientific name Iguana iguana), has been confused with the young or female local iguana that are green in colour but not in name. Features like a striped tail and a large scale on the cheek (that is not the ear) were used to tell the difference. 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.
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. Zeelandia (Zeelandia Beach and Turtle Beach) receives the most nests on Statia and, therefore, needs to be protected.
Children learned 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. They also learnen how much effort is needed to create a barrier from roaming livestock for the new trees.
The vegetable garden used during the Kids Summer Club was built earlier in the year and ‘put to sleep’. On Thursday, July 30th, the younger children planted okra. They can visit the garden occasionally help us water then harvest the okra. They went home with potted thyme, that is already ready for harvesting. The thyme is to be watered and picked by the children 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 within the general food forest plot. This was followed by the creation of ‘seed bombs’ using seeds that they brought from home. These seed bombs will be placed on the Fort Oranje cliff and in the food forest. A few will be taken home and watered until they germinate. This will give them an idea of how long the other seed bombs will take to germinate. A few children took home a sea grape plant. This visit is related to their hike to Panorama as they will be able to have an overview of the island and its vegetation. They also saw the area with no trees was also the areas with the most erosion (the eastern cliffs).
Due to the passage of a storm, a day was lost in the first week. Even though the second Monday was a public holiday, the older children were able to conduct a Mini Kids Council. They were asked to answer one question about a particular outing: What can Stenapa and locals do together to improve (iguana populations/marine environment/sea turtle populations/protection of trees)?