Linking ecology and sustainability through educational outreach
Educational outreach provides a way to link research to the people that are most affected by the human impacts I study. For this reason, outreach is a fundamental and integral part of my research program.
Working directly with local individuals and communities develops a mutual respect between all parties and builds relationships that are instrumental to much of my research. It is also one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work.
In Haiti we are directly working with fishers to protect groups of artifical reefs in attempt to understand the capacity of these reefs to increase local fisheries. These fishers are eager to improve their local fisheries and we work with them in every step of the process, from reef construction to community meetings to increase interest and awareness of conservation strateges such as small-scale protected areas and different harvest strategies that may help improve fisheries. See a short video of this research here and above. Also check out our new educational film on our research in Haitian Creole - it is pretty hilarious.
I work with artists to create educational posters in Creole and English that I use during presentations to local school and communities in Haiti.
The goal of these posters is to provide education about the ecology of local ecosystems and to promote conservation.
They are translated in Creole and English and hung throughout the island community. Our most recent poster focuses on a small-scale no-take project on a series of artifical reefs that we are currently conducting in collaboration with local communities.
I work with Dr. Craig Layman (North Carolina State University) and Friends of the Environment, Abaco to assist with their on-going projects, including: field trips for Bahamian students and community members to our research sites, tidal creek restorations, presentations to local community members about local environmental issues and areas of research.
I frequently provide guest presentations to all age groups (K-graduate level) in the US, The Bahamas, and Haiti on topics ranging from climate change, sustainable fisheries and human impacts on marine coastal ecosystems. I am continually impressed by this next generation and working with them directlyis not only rewarding, but it gives me a lot of hope for a more sustainable future.