Changing the Tide

jess-cCongratulations to Jessica Comeau, Keene State College Biology student who has been selected as a finalist in the TEDx student presenter competition!  Jess will present:  ‘Changing the Tide:  Empowering Youth as a Pathway to Sustainability’.   Jessica has been involved for two years in our coral reef monitoring and local youth education program that we have been running since 2008.   She was awarded funding from the BEST (Building Excellence in Science and Technology) program that allowed her to make three trips to the Turks and Caicos Islands and work with the students from Clement Howell high school on Providenciales.   The finalist competition takes place on Sunday, Nov 6.

Update:  Jess was selected as the Runner-Up in the contest!   Watch the video of her presentation:

Her abstract:

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Caribbean Islands, coral reefs are dying and many species are in danger of extinction.  The young residents of these islands may be our only hope.  Industrial tourism is having devastating effects on local ecosystems throughout the Caribbean, including the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI)- which are now at a critical juncture.

The coral reefs of Providenciales, and the other islands of TCI are still mostly in good shape.  But we have seen some dramatic changes in development over the years that have had severe impacts on its coral reefs.  Which path will TCI take?  Follow the ways of others and continue development with no eye towards preserving its natural environment?  Or use the principles of conservation to underscore its development practices?  We believe that the Turks and Caicos Islands are uniquely positioned to serve as a model for sustainability in Caribbean.

Keene State College students and faculty have worked together to create a program that is based on an acknowledgement of the critical relationship between the empowerment of local people and environmental impacts.  Collaborating with stakeholders from the TCI government, local businesses, and schools, we have focused our efforts on the young TCI residents who have spent their whole lives on these islands.   Particularly we strive to instill the awe and curiosity that comes with experiencing a coral reef for the first time.  And then to turn that fascination into understanding, and then understanding into a commitment to make change.


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