Grand Bahama’s Bishop Michael Eldon School’s (BMES) Vertical Hydroponics Garden project was named as one of five global winners of the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE) GAIA 20:30 Biodiversity Campaign Best Practice Competition.  Cyprus, Germany, India, and Spain were the other winners in the Biodiversity Campaign. The competition was organized by FEE’s Learning about Forest (LEAF) programme and was open to the entire FEE network, Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Green Key, Learning about Forest (LEAF), and Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE).  The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is the official FEE representative for The Bahamas and manages the Eco-Schools Bahamas and Young Reporters for the Environment programmes. 

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Photo 1: BMES Vertical Hydroponics Garden

The GAIA 20:30 Biodiversity Campaign involves a set of activities targeted at different stakeholders to emphasize the importance of protecting global biodiversity and ecosystems and focuses on actions to protect global biodiversity. In the Best Practice Competition, Eco-Schools, LEAF, YRE schools, Blue Flag sites and Green Key establishments were invited to submit one project or story connected with the GAIA 20:30 biodiversity goals of preservation and ecosystem restoration. 

“I am grateful for our BMES achievement. Thanks to the ever-supportive administration- Mrs. Sheryl Wood, our principal, and her team, all the organizations who have supported our school throughout these years in our journey as an Eco-school, GEF-SGP, Mr. Deon Stewart for assisting us with our grant, Keep Grand Bahama Clean-Mrs. Nakira Wilchcombe and her team, BREEF-Mr. Kevin Glinton, and his team. Special thank you to the Ministry of Agriculture-Ms. Jeri Kelly and her team, Ministry of Education-Mrs. Sheryl Bowe, and her team for providing us with our first set of hydroponics. Most importantly, the students who have tirelessly worked in the garden and were able to connect with nature during the pandemic. Above all, thank the Almighty God for his divine providence and protection,” said Mrs. Cheng Bee Selim-Dela Pena, BMES Eco-Schools Coordinator.

According to BMES Principal, Sheryl Wood, “We are so proud of her, the supporting teachers and the students who have persevered with these Eco-Schools projects.  This one is big time!  Thank you for the role you and BREEF played in making this possible,”.

Photo 2:  BMES student examining hydroponics system growth

Speaking of local and global significance of BMES’ award, BREEF’s Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert stated, “Congratulations to these students from Grand Bahama and the other winners from around the world who developed great skills and knowledge on climate action and biodiversity conservation. Their work contributed to boosting biodiversity, raising awareness on ecosystem protection, and creating meaningful, long-lasting projects. Taking action for biodiversity is not only essential for sustaining healthy natural areas, but also healthy communities.”

BMES student Trinity McIntosh stated, “The achievement is very important to the Eco-Schools Programme and me. This is because we’ve happily and diligently taken care of our hydroponics garden. Many of us gained the opportunity to not only practice but promote biodiversity within our school. Using all that we have learned, we can make a positive impact on our environment. This accomplishment is truly significant and encouraging.”

Hydroponics team member Jamia William said, “The achievement feels amazing. It’s an awesome feeling when something you put your all into gets recognized for something great. It also inspires us as a club to keep doing what we’re doing because our hard work is paying off and it motivates us to do better.”

According to BMES student Brianna Bowe, “Working with the hydroponics garden every single day brings me great joy to work with the plants and with my classmates. This great achievement means a lot to me and the rest of the team because it will help us to continue working with the hydroponics garden and it will also encourage others to join in on the action!”

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Photo 3:  BMES students maintaining their hydroponics system

Kevin Glinton, Eco-Schools Bahamas National Operator, expressing his gratitude to BMES for accepting the challenge, said, “The Bahamas is one of over 79 countries participating in FEE programmes.  I am extremely proud of BMES and BREEF’s 39 other Eco-Schools in The Bahamas that continue to show the world that we take environmental stewardship seriously.”

FEE Biodiversity: Best Practices from Schools Around the World Press Release

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