EAG launches ‘Into the Wild’ virtual classroom

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EAG Executive Direcor, Arica Hill
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EAG Offshore Coordinator, Shanna Challenger

By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

The National Museum of Antigua and Barbuda came alive on Thursday night during a virtual classroom movie night launched by the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) through collaboration with the Sandals Foundation.

Several EAG members and Sandals Foundation representatives, along with producers, musicians, videographers and other technical individuals responsible for the production, execution and release of the Into the Wild video series were present.

 Sandals Foundation Environmental Coordinator, Georgia Lumbay, provided more information with why the organisation chose to make funding available to the EAG for this virtual project that has been in the making for over two years.

“The Sandals Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resort International. We serve the Caribbean Community in totality in all the countries we exist as hotels. We work under three pillars of environment, communication, and education. This partnership with the Environmental Awareness Group falls under environment. We cover multiple themes under the environment – tree planting, marine conservation, turtle conservation, environmental education, and we know the importance of protecting the environment. Children are great stewards of the environment by what they do today, what they tell their parents and what they will do as they grow in life,” Lumbay told Observer in an interview.

EAG has previously benefited from partnerships with Sandals Foundation, and Lumbay was pleased that more people around the world can be able to see the effort put into environmental conservation in Antigua and Barbuda.

“We are accustomed to partnering with EAG for the floating classrooms, but Covid came and the world had to pivot. The new shift came with a proposal by the EAG. This proposal, we continue to support, and that support moved the beneficiaries from 450 to three times over, so we are very pleased with this partnership. Now, not only people in Antigua can know about the excellence of Antigua because it’s now on the website, and on social media, but now the world can see all the work that we are doing here,” she said.

Lumbay also commented on the high calibre of production that went into the three-part video series, claiming that the Sandals Foundation has been impressed with EAG’s work even during the early stages of the project.

“We don’t only provide funding we provide project oversight and so we have been reviewing the content of the videos for multiple weeks, so while it’s not new to us it’s still great to see it on the big screen, it’s still great to see the audience respond to it, and it has been excellent even since the first viewing of the draft,” according to the Sandals Foundation Environment Coordinator.

EAG Executive Director, Arica Hill, expressed tremendous gratitude that Into the Wild was able to be launched to assist learning in classrooms across the country.

“We are very excited to have launched this initiative and interacting with students, especially young children; they have such open minds about the environment and being able to experience the environment, it leaves a very lasting impression on them,” Hill said in an interview.

Despite the pandemic, Hill was happy to report that EAG operations were mostly unaffected as members along with the general public sought virtual engagements. She said that Into the Wild is a great online initiative which helps to bridge the gap missing from face-to-face learning.

“Now that we’ve had to switch it up and not to sit face-to-face and have this virtual output, we are very happy that children still get to explore our offshore islands, our marvelous mangroves and the underwater adventures simply by clicking on YouTube and seeing faces that look like theirs, and places that are familiar to them as well,” Hill noted.

EAG Offshore Islands Coordinator, who was one of the tour guides in Into the Wild, thanked the Ministry of Education for reviewing Into the Wild content and materials so that the EAG remained aligned with the current primary school curriculum.

Over 40 schools have been visited by the EAG to disseminate the virtual classroom with a grand target of 60 schools. Challenger said that during the school tour, several educators indicated how useful Into the Wild would be to incorporate into lessons.

“All of our materials we did send them to the Ministry of Education’s Science Unit. Mr Anthony Spencer, the Science Coordinator, and Kendra, they reviewed them, and they are actually going to be recommending them as supplementary material for the primary school curriculum,” Challenger told Observer.

Challenger has called on residents to desist from leaving garbage behind following small events on the offshore islands, as introducing a growing rat population would be catastrophic for the restoration of the offshore islands.

“Help us keep our offshore islands invasive species free, by making sure that when you go to the islands ‘braffing’ as they say on the boats, make sure you’re not leaving any rubbish there, because it took the EAG years to keep these offshore islands rat free,” she warned.

Into the Wild can be found on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram at EAG Antigua.

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