Teenagers and young adults in the Virgin Islands will have an unprecedented opportunity to study the territory’s marine environment and make recommendations on how to preserve sea life during the upcoming 2007 Youth Summit on the Oceans: Virgin Islands Future Leaders Turning the Tide, a series of events organized by the Ocean Conservancy.
The summit October 25 to 30 will kick off at the V.I. Environmental Research Station with a keynote address by Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor Jeremy Jackson.
During their two days at VIERS, participants will have the opportunity to attend presentations on subjects such as the state of the local marine ecosystems and the relationship between the marine environment and every day life.
Participants will also have the opportunity to collect data through socioeconomic surveys, lab experiments and ecological surveys, according to Nick Drayton, the Ocean Conservancy’s Caribbean Ecosystems Program Director.
40 Spaces Open
There are 40 slots open for summit participants, who must be residents of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands between the ages of 16 and 24. Participants should not ask what they will get out of the summit, but rather consider what they can give, explained Drayton.
“The purpose is for them to come together and to deliberate on the marine and coastal issues they consider to be important,” he said. “We are asking participants to come with a certain level of understanding and appreciation of these issues, so they can share their own thoughts, recommendations and concerns.”
“At the end of the summit, the participants will deliver a report to the current leaders of the British and U.S. Virgin Islands on their concerns, and they can share their commitment to get on board and to be more active in what they consider to be the primary issues in need of attention in the Virgin Islands,” Drayton said.
Candidates for the summit should be interested in the environment and prepared to learn — but not in a sit back and take notes kind of way, he added.
“Ideally, participants will be individuals interested in the environment who have some concerns and feel like they can make some contribution,” said Drayton. “While we will be sharing new or topical information and will be having presenters, there’s going to be an equal balance of giving and receiving in terms of information. So, it won’t be Ecology 101 where we’re going to teach about corals, it’s going to be a working session.”
Youth Summit organizers are working on scheduling field trips to the BVI and on the Atlantis submarine, and other summit conferences will take place on St. Thomas.
Ocean Conservancy officials are excited about its upcoming Youth Summit, the first event of its kind organized by the agency.
“We are looking forward to engaging this group of the population that is often overlooked as having the potential to be thought leaders and to partner with us on some of these really heavy environmental issues which have serious implications for their quality of life in the next few years,” said Drayton. “We certainly hope to inspire these young people, and to equip them with the knowledge and skills they can use to be more effective partners in the community with regard to ocean stewardship. We hope to empower them to provide opportunities and avenues through which they can actively become involved and participate in marine conservation.”
Anyone interested in applying for a position at the Youth Summit should contact Drayton at 719-8590 or email [email protected], or Lillian Moolenaar at 774-3320 or [email protected] Applications can also be picked up at the Friends of the V.I. National Park office at Mongoose Junction. The application deadline is September 15.