Video & Photos: Island To Be “Living Classroom”

June 23, 2015

The Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] have purchased a 2.4-acre lot on Trunk Island and now expect to provide classes that utilize the island to some 3,000 students during the school year, which they said is an “amazing opportunity for Bermuda by the creation of a living classroom.”

The BZS said, “It was once unusual for the formal education of children to occur anywhere besides within the four-walls of the classroom, but today, there is a broader view on how teaching should occur, taking into account the whole child and diverse learning needs.

“Creating programmes that meet the needs of the whole child has long been the key component of the educational programmes offered by the Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, which is why the organization is pleased to announce that they have been able to purchase a 2.4-acre lot on Trunk Island.

“Located in Harrington Sound, the island has already proven beneficial to our summer camp programmes, and we now expect to provide classes that utilize the island to some 3,000 students during the school year.

“We believe that with so many social and environmental challenges impacting our Island, providing a place for students to unplug and learn in a natural island setting can contribute to a young person’s knowledge and confidence, and can help them to develop a vision of their own future and that of Bermuda,” shared BZS Education Officer, Dr. Jamie Bacon.

“The magic of experiential learning is motivational for students who might otherwise be disinterested in a normal classroom setting. They prefer a hands-on approach and respond well to material and an environment that makes a personal connection. Trunk Island will certainly enhance our Schools Programme, which is available free to all students from preschool through senior school.”

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“In addition to the Schools Programme, BZS has also been able to expand their Aqua Camp programme, with more activities for middle school students – the age group thought to be most socially at risk [ages 11-13 years] – and introducing a one-week residential camp for students age 14-15. Through both camp programmes, students explore and participate in conservation projects and increase their understanding of aquatic habitats, all while developing a passion for protecting our environment.

“The island features many of Bermuda’s major habitats: Forest, including a rare early palmetto forest; Sandy Coast; Rocky Coast; Sea Grass Beds; Sheltered Bays; and a Bio-Erosional Notch, an ecosystem unique to Harrington Sound. This makes it a truly spectacular place for children to learn and grow.

“The BZS has also been busy implementing a conservation plan, developed by Dr. David Wingate, for Trunk Island by culling invasive species and working to re-establish native flora and fauna. As a part of this plan, teams of volunteers from a variety of companies, as well as our “Weekend Warriors,” have worked diligently towards this end.

“The cost of purchasing Trunk Island, as well as the repairs and restoration work required, has not been insignificant. However, the BZS is also pleased to report that it is now about half-way towards a $5 million fundraising campaign for the island’s purchase and establishing a Living Classroom and implementing Dr. Wingate’s conservation restoration plan.”

“The Trunk Island Project presents an amazing opportunity for Bermuda by the creation of a living classroom that will allow students real, unforgettable learning experiences in a live, outdoor setting that will educate them on Bermuda’s environment,” explained Trunk Island committee chairman, James Gibbons.

“It also represents the opportunity for the creation of a pristine island environment for native and endemic plantings and the preservation and enhancement the small palmetto forest, one of the oldest in Bermuda, on Trunk Island. We thank all those who have supported this project thus far, and encourage everyone to participate in the extent that they are able.”

“We are grateful to the organisations and companies that have already made contributions towards this important education campaign, in particular, our lead donors, the Stempel Foundation and Stempel Family,” said BZS President Richard Winchell.

“We want to keep this small island in our ‘backyard’ the kind of place that this, and future, generations will want to come back to,” added Mr. Winchell. “Together, we can build on what is best about BZS Education and make it even better for our Bermuda community.”

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  1. Pastor Syl says:

    Well done, BZS! May this project meet with every success. Wish I were young enough to attend one of the camps. This type of learning about Bermuda’s natural environment wasn’t available when I was that age. Truth to tell, there was NO type of learning about Bermuda’s natural environment that I knew of back then.