STB Youth Environment Ambassadors See Green Side of Heavy Industry

Future environmental leaders see heavy industry at work – Grand Bahama Shipyard, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, opened its doors with CEO Carl Rotkirch, far right, personally leading the tour and talk for the informative session of Youth Environmental Ambassadors sponsored by Save The Bays.

Freeport, GB — Some 45 young people in Grand Bahama in the past month witnessed the reality of what their older counterparts said for decades was possible  – the greening of modern heavy industry.

The youngsters, participants in a popular bi-monthly program called Youth Environment Ambassadors sponsored by Save The Bays, got the educational double dose with on-site tours, lectures and classroom visits by executives from two of the island’s leading industrial suppliers – the Grand Bahama Shipyard and Grand Bahama Power Company.

“Grand Bahama is the heartbeat of industry in The Bahamas and, with the shipyard being the largest in the Western Hemisphere, it’s a real testing ground for how industry can serve the public’s needs without sacrificing the environment,” said Joe Darville Director of Education for the fast-growing environmental movement. “The presentations by both the Grand Bahama Shipyard and the Grand Bahama Power Company were lively, informative and interactive. But most importantly, they demonstrated how best practices can mitigate against any potentially negative impact on our health, well-being and on our environment, marine and terrestrial, even while operating in a massive industrial complex.”

While health and safety experts Nikita Mullings and Jensen Farquharson led the session from Grand Bahama Power, Grand Bahama Shipyard CEO Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch and Health, Safety, Environment and Security Manager Kendrick Knowles led the session that included a tour of what has been called “a celebrated example of industrial and environmental symbiosis.”

Darville had especially flattering words for the shipyard where he worked for eight years.

“It is always my joy and delight  to tout and celebrate the care and diligence with which all work is carried out in The Yard in order to safeguard our unique environment.  Indeed, it is a shining example to uphold for the youth we are training to be the informed, committed and enthusiastic leaders and stewards of our unique heritage now and for generations into the future,” said Darville.

The work of monitoring, meeting international standards and protecting the environment is ongoing for the shipyard, said Rotkirch.
“What is more, being an ISO-certified enterprise, we continuously look for ways to further reduce our environmental footprint, and monitor our performance, as our company grows and evolves,” he noted, calling the “young bright students a true joy to meet and interact with. There is no doubt that they will be the ones taking the responsibility for forming our greener future in the years to come. The importance of the message about the environmental challenges and possibilities cannot be underestimated.”

The Saturday sessions are so popular that when the YEA program announced its second year of the environmental leadership program more than twice as many junior high school students showed up as space allowed for. The education arm of Save The Bays is made possible by funding from the organization that is partnering with more than a dozen community-based groups and associations aimed at protecting the physical and cultural heritage of The Bahamas.

In addition to its educational efforts, Save The Bays is committed to passage of a Freedom of Information act, environmental protection act, accountability for oil pollution, and an end to unregulated development.  With more than 17,200 Facebook friends and nearly 7,000 signatures on its petition, the association is the fastest-growing NGO in The Bahamas.

Chain reaction – Just as human hands intertwine and the movement of one impacts the rest, everything in ecology is linked. That’s the lesson being demonstrated in this classroom section of the Youth Environment Ambassadors program in Grand Bahama. The series of hands-on experiments, classroom material and field trips is so popular that when the second year session opened in December, more than twice the number of junior high school students applied for the spots available. It’s one of several environmental education efforts supported by Save the Bays based on the belief that the youth of today will be the stewards of the environment tomorrow.