THE BOTTOM – The Youth Environmental Leadership Program (YELP) on Saba recently wrapped up its summer teen program whereby a small group of youngsters completed a PADI Project Aware Coral Restoration course.
Last year the youth project prepared them to dive with scientists at the annual Sea & Learn on Saba program in October. This year, the youngsters took it to another level.
YELP is one of the projects of the Sea & Learn Foundation based on Saba. YELP focuses on getting Saba’s youth involved in environmental sciences and conservation projects to help them learn the value of teamwork, develop leadership skills, and build self-confidence.
This begins by teaching kids how to scuba dive or strengthening their underwater skills if already certified. An additional goal of the program is to prepare the students for underwater research data collection with a handful of Sea & Learn scientists during the October program.
During a six-week period in the summer of 2022, YELP provided a specialized PADI Advanced Open Water Course for three local teenage divers. In addition to improving their buoyancy, identifying coral and fish species, learning how to navigate underwater and seeing how depth affects diving, the students were trained in various hands-on scientific skills: performing underwater surveys and assessments by using transects, quadrats and calipers.
In July 2023, the teens, under the guidance of local PADI instructor Jarno Knijff, enrolled in the Official PADI AWARE Coral Reef Conservation course. Marine Park Ranger Marijn van der Laan helped expand the students’ understanding of the care and propagation of corals by the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) in the Saba National Marine Park.