“Managing The Environmental Impact Of AC35″

March 18, 2016

“Managing the Environmental Impact of AC-35” was the theme of the eighth biennial Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] Environmental Youth Conference, which was held at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo on Monday and Tuesday.

Sixty M3-S4 student delegates and their teachers were selected from the island’s public and private schools to attend the two-day conference. The Ernest E. Stempel Foundation has dedicated funds since 2000 to ensure this educational conference is available to Bermuda’s students.

The Foundation’s support allows BZS to inspire, equip and connect young people to our environment and challenges them to think bigger and differently about what is possible in our community.

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Strategic partnerships within the America’s Cup community, in particular 11th Hour Racing, a programme of The Schmidt Family Foundation, used the conference platform to promote environmental sustainability throughout AC-35 racing by spreading awareness to Bermuda’s students and providing solutions to keep our fragile marine environment healthy.

The students had the unique opportunity to meet and interact with members of the America’s Cup teams locally and use Skype for online student conferencing with Land Rover BAR’s Sustainability Manager Dr Susie Tomson, based in the U.K.

Additionally, the ACEA Endeavor group is helped to coordinate the conference and guided the students when they drafted their own version of an event village on Tuesday afternoon.

The students learned about the enormity of hosting an event like the America’s Cup, the challenges that must be addressed in order to prevent it from having a detrimental effect on Bermuda’s environment, and the solutions that are being proposed.

During the opening session, local and overseas experts spoke about Bermuda’s rich history of sailing and racing, the history of the America’s Cup, and why such enormous events need to be sustainable.

They then rotated through a number of break-out sessions, covering such topics as the event’s environmental impact assessment, trash and transportation management for the event, the critical species and habitats of the Great Sound that must be protected, and the guidelines for sustainable regattas that all participants must follow.

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Students participated in a variety of workshops, including conducting ecological monitoring of the Great Sound from the BZS floating classroom Endurance, toured relevant sailing and boat building exhibits at the National Museum, toured Team Oracle’s base and participated in STEAM hands-on activities, and visited the reverse osmosis and sewage treatment plants in Dockyard to understand how these facilities are able to handle the influx of thousands of visitors as well as up to 100 mega yachts.

Returning to BAMZ the students worked in groups to produce and present their own design for the layout of an event village and the amenities needed. This activity gave the students an opportunity to provide their input for making AC-35 a green and sustainable event for Bermuda.

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“It was fantastic to see the students enthusiastically collaborating in groups on their vision for an environmentally sustainable Event Village for the America’s Cup,” said Dr. Jamie Bacon, Education Officer at the Bermuda Zoological Society.

“They took things that they had learned from the various speakers and field trips and incorporated that information into their designs. They also were able to include things that would be appreciated by teenagers that had apparently not been considered by the adults who are currently designing the village.

“It was great to have Mike Winfield, CEO and Chairman of ACBDA, see them at work and hear their presentations. It really gave students an opportunity to give valuable input about what should be included in the village.”

The Conference was officially opened by Mustafa Ingham of the America’s Cup Redbull Team and Mike Winfield, Chairman and CEO of ACBDA provided the closing remarks.

Keynote speakers included Peter Rusch is the PR and Communications Director for the America’s Cup Event Authority and Oracle Team USA, and Dr. Susie Tomson, Sustainability Manager for the Land Rover BAR racing team.

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“I was privileged to be able to attend the final session of the BZS Youth Conference this week,” remarked Mike Winfield.

“Five teams made up of young Bermudians, from a cross section of our education system, spent time developing ideas for the America’s Village and then eloquently presented their ideas to the their fellow students and myself.

“I was delighted by their innovative ideas, their obvious enthusiasm of the Americas Cup, their concern for the environment and their imaginative ideas. I found myself being energized by the collective positive energy of the group and my faith in our ability as a community to deliver the America’s Cup was recharged.

“They were brilliant! I am grateful to the BZS for bringing these young folks together, for focusing them on the America’s Cup and for obviously engendering some positive enthusiasm.”

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  1. I heart 441 says:

    Diversity at its best for a common cause! This is the Bermuda that I know which makes us gems!