|Photo by Erik J. Russell/Keen I Media|
The Grand Bahama Power Company is staying true to their mantra - Keeping Grand Bahama’s Future Bright, each day with their commitment to their Corporate Lands for Learning project (www.wildlifehc.org/corporatelands/index.cfm).
Located opposite the GBPC training centre, around the power station cooling water outfall, and on Freeport Harbour company canals this sustained wet land and mangrove serves as Grand Bahama Power Company’s on hand environmental school and reflects their commitment to preserving Grand Bahamas’ future and its environment.
Under the direction of Hailon Knottage, Plant Environmental, Health & Safety Coordinator In the Environmental Department of the Grand Bahama Power Company, he and his coworkers oversea the protection of this sustainable mangrove and serves as one of five educators to local Grand Bahama students about the environment.
“My pleasure of fishing, love of my country and my understanding of our wonderful environment has now transgressed into my job. I get to teach future generations that taking care of our islands and respecting them is so important to their future,” said Hailon, “ they begin to see that industry and environment must coexist together and that the Grand Bahama Power Company as an industrial leader has a responsibility to make that happen.”
As part of the Wildlife Habitat tour students are picked up by bus from the Grand Bahamas Power Company and taken to the training centre. Here the kids watch a power point about wetlands and preserving our world’s environment. Then they are taken on physical walk through the wetland and mangroves. To see and touch what they have just learned about.
The project is coordinated along with the Bahama National Trust Grand Bahama branch Administrator and Educational liaison at the Rand Nature Centre, Cecilia Bodie. "I embrace the opportunity to do the tours at the power plant for several reasons. The children really enjoy the presentation about the red mangrove and why it is so important to marine life, birds and small animals. I then expand and explain why the mangroves are so important to humans. We then take a walk across to the Mangroves and the story then comes to life for them because they usually get to see the wildlife that inhabit the mangroves. They always amaze me at how quickly they learn to identify the different types of mangroves. This mangrove area is especially good for identification because all 4 types grow very close together and this makes it easier to differentiate between them. An added bonus is that teachers become acquainted with another wetland area and all learn the importance of taking care of our environment."
In order to take their journey students must cross bridges that were built by the Grand Bahama Power Company over the last three years. “These are actually second bridges as Hurricane Francis destroyed the first ones, the mangrove at that time was very badly damaged but we have seen the wetlands come back to life’” Hailon reports “On a daily basis we can see the returning growth of the land, but most importantly the birds and fish are back!”
So for in 2009 five different schools have visited the wetlands with a total of 10 visits scheduled in May. Schools wishing to participate in this program can contact the Environmental department of the GBPC and they will be pleased to make arrangements.
Building essential knowledge is the key to this Grand Bahama Power Company project, the student training essential to keeping this land as a park. GBPC plans to continue this environmental stewardship activity for the forcible future as its success with the school students and local residents is becoming very evident. More important, the student’s environmental education and knowledge of our local eco-system is also significantly enhanced as a result of participating in these programs.