DCRM Summer Internship Program
Formerly known as the Coral Reef Initiative Summer Internship, the DCRM Summer Internship program works to raise community awareness of coral reef and coastal zone issues, threats, and the efforts underway to protect them. Participants are provided with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in resource management, and are encouraged to pursue an education and/or career in environmental conservation.
- 15 interns are selected through an interview process and must be either a high school graduate or a current college student
- Interns are placed with an experienced mentor at the various environmental agencies on Saipan including, but not limited to, Division of Coastal Resources Management, Division of Environmental Quality, Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance, Division of Fish & Wildlife, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
- 10 week program between June and August (dates vary every year)
- In addition to working on a CNMI-specific conservation project, each intern must write a news article and present on their completed project
- Since 2002, over 100 students have completed the summer program
Applications for the 2020 DCRM Summer Internship is due on Friday, April 3, 2020.
- CNMI Employment Application (which can be found here)
- Cover Letter
- Transcripts (official or unofficial)
- Two (2) recommendation letters (instructors and/or employers only)
- Police Clearance (within the last 3 months)
- Copy of Valid Photo ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
MEET THE 2019 SUMMER INTERNS
Sea Turtle Program, Department of Lands and Natural Resources
Preserving the CNMI’s Green Sea Turtles
Currently, an average of 12 nesting female green sea turtles visit the CNMI annually to lay their eggs. Over the past 11 years, 25 sea turtles have been illegally taken from beaches in the CNMI. According to an article found in frontiers in Marine Science (January 2018), Endangered Green Turtles of the Northern Mariana Islands: Nesting Ecology, Poaching, and Climate Concerns, poaching is currently the greatest threat to resident nesting sea turtles in our islands. Across the Pacific, sea turtles are hunted for various reason, such as jewelry, money and food. Because of this, the population of nesting green sea turtles has declined, which puts our coastal resources and coral reefs at risk. Green sea turtles are important because they promote biodiversity in our environment and provide income through the tourism industry. Sea turtles also play a major role in keeping our coral reefs healthy. Green sea turtles, which are the most common turtle species in the CNMI, feed on the algae that grow on corals. This increases productivity and allows coral reefs to thrive.
This summer, I was an intern at DLNR’s Sea Turtle Program. My internship project is part of an ongoing effort to protect CNMI’s sea turtle population and eliminate illegal poaching by collecting data on current nesting sites and spreading awareness of the threats sea turtles face. During my internship, we conducted outreach at a number of schools, as well as the Saipan International Fishing Derby, where we displayed stuff green and hawksbill sea turtles and preserved sea turtle hatchlings in jars. We also handed out educational materials such as hotline stickers and sea turtle coloring books. In addition to outreach, another way we help protect our sea turtles is through nightly beach monitoring. A typical night shift involved walking on the beach looking for turtle nests and tracks, and making sure previous nests haven’t been poached. I also assisted with nest inventories, which involved collecting data on the number of hatched and unhatched eggs in each nest.
This internship has increased my interest in sea turtle conservation, and has encouraged me to major in marine science at school. It will take many years to see the CNMI’s nesting sea turtle population recover, but with the help of the community, I believe it’s possible.
Environmental Surveillance Laboratory, Division of Environmental Quality
Testing for Bacteria in CNMI Waters
I began my summer working as an intern at the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Environmental Surveillance Laboratory. I mainly assisted in the microbiology section where we analyzed marine water for enterococci bacteria and drinking water for total coliforms and E. coli. Total coliforms, E. coli, and enterococci are all bacteria found in fecal matter.
Working in the laboratory, it became my main project to analyze marine water to quantify and monitor the microbial quality of the beaches on Saipan, Managaha, Tinian and Rota, and to assist in testing drinking water to maintain safe drinking standards.
The first step for each water analysis was to collect water samples to bring to the laboratory for testing.
Marine water samples were collected from CNMI beaches by the DEQ Water Quality staff. Once the samples arrived, we diluted them and added enterolert media to each sample to detect enterococci bacteria. Afterwards, the samples were incubated for 24-48 hours. If the sample fluoresced under UV light after the incubation, then it was positive for enterococci bacteria.
Drinking water samples were collected by the DEQ Safe Drinking Water staff from clients. In the lab, we added Colilert-18 media to each sample to detect total coliforms and/or E. coli. The samples underwent pre-warming for about 7-10 minutes then were incubated for 18 hours. The results were achieved by comparing the samples with comparator (container of water that contains total coliforms and E. coli for reference). Here are the possible ways to determine the results:
~ Sample has no color/color is lighter than the comparator and is not fluorescent = negative for total coliforms and E. coli
~ Sample is darker than/equal in color to the comparator and is not fluorescent = positive for total coliforms only
~ Sample is darker than/equal in color to the comparator and is fluorescent = positive for total coliforms and E. coli
To alert the public of the findings of the marine water analysis, a Public Beach Advisory (red flag) is put out on the CNMI DEQ web page if the water quality results exceed the CNMI Water Quality Microbial Standards. Test results are also provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Congress, and the media. Results for drinking water samples are reported back to the client.
E. coli in drinking water can harm people if consumed, and significant amounts of fecal bacteria can hurt the economic and recreational value of marine waters. In addition, the presence of total coliforms, E. coli, and enterococcus bacteria “is indicative of the potential presence of other more pathogenic organisms which are a danger to human health” (Price and Wildeboer, 2017).
Water analyses are crucial for marine water quality assessments and for maintaining a healthy community. Prior to this internship position, I had little knowledge of the significance of bacteria in our aquatic resources. It is only through my experience in the laboratory that I learned of the importance of water testing and the effects of these bacteria (enterococci, total coliforms, and E. coli) on our community and environment.
Robert G. Price and Dirk Wildeboer (July 12th 2017). E. coli as an Indicator of Contamination and Health Risk in Environmental Waters, Escherichia coli – Recent
Advances on Physiology, Pathogenesis and Biotechnological Applications, Amidou Samie, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/67330. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/-i-escherichia-coli-i-recent-advances-on-physiology-pathogenesis-and-biotechnological-applications/-i-e-coli-i-as-an-indicator-of-contamination-and-health-risk-in-environmental-waters
User Capacity Assessment of Prime Tourist Sites (UCAPTS), Division of Coastal Resources Management
The Cost of Our Lagoon
Polluted waters and overcrowded beaches. Sound too familiar?
The island’s white sandy beaches and offshore coral reefs are some of its most famous features that hold symbolic value to locals and tourists alike. Because of Saipan’s beauty, it is no doubt that the tourism sector is a primary contributor to the CNMI economy. But to what extent will these natural resources be exploited before they completely deteriorate?
Under the Division of Coastal Resources Management Internship, I worked on the User Capacity Assessment of Prime Tourist Sites project. This study aims to determine management practices for sustainable development of the tourism industry. By understanding the predominant and increasing pressures within the industry, capacity limits can be identified and better decisions can be made to maintain the environmental health of these sites.
Within the UCAPTS project I was tasked to create an economic valuation of the marine sports industry in Saipan, using addendums from Marine Sports Operators (MSO) permit renewal applications in 2019. MSO provided a value for each permitted activity they offer to clients. Some of the activities included were banana boating, jet skiing, parasailing, wakeboarding, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, floaters/aqua cycle, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing, and Managaha transfer/lagoon tours, amongst others.
Spatial data was generated through ArcGIS and ultimately portrayed the different areas of operation. This was my favorite part of the study because not only did I get to see which areas contain the most activity, I also saw which of those areas generate the most value for the CNMI. The total was $3,822,019.19; this number coming directly from permitted marine sports operations alone. Not including previous coral ecosystem valuation studies, this estimate should be considered a conservative value for the CNMI. Generating this number can help other state agencies and legislators make informed decisions when managing the CNMI’s most valuable resources, such as the Grotto.
The conflict between financial insecurity and environmental degradation proves that traditional investments in a strong economy do not always contribute to a healthy environment. This shows how “the two are strongly interconnected, both of which are equally important to our growth and wellbeing.”* Tourist congestion is not only about the number of visitors but about the capacity to manage them. The challenge is to find methods to accurately measure and valuate these ecosystem services. By identifying the economic value of our marine ecosystems, stakeholders and policy-makers will begin to understand this crucial relationship. Such information can support wise long-term decisions, which is what we all need – government leader or not – in preserving our coastal resources.
Tourism value of ecosystems in Bonaire (pp. 1-7, Publication). (n.d.).
ALDEBERT DELEON GUERRERO
Geographic Information Systems, Division of Coastal Resources Management
Informed for A Brighter Future
For a handful of years now, our tiny island of Saipan has been a popular location for a myriad of development projects thank to its ideal paradise destination, steady tourism industry, and not to mention its natural beautify and allure. In the near future, a few of these development projects are expected to turn into completely refined hotels, resorts, townhouses, and even a casino! With that said, it is evident that our island continues to experience change every single day. It is absolutely vital to obtain information on these developments in order to better understand their effects on the environment and society. Regardless of size, these development projects have the potential to stunt Saipan’s growth and of course, deplete its finite resources.
As an intern under the Planning section for the DCRM Summer Internship Program, my project, which takes place at BECQ, involves the creation of an interactive dashboard that contains key data taken from permit applications for development projects on Saipan. This dashboard is intended for the public and other agencies to view the data geospatially. With the use of a reliable PC and software tools such as Microsoft Excel and ArcGIS, my project becomes much easier to accomplish. When carrying out this project, I follow a general set of steps. First, data is gathered from all the permits issued by DCRM on all development projects and entered into an Excel spreadsheet. Second, the spreadsheet is then exported tot he ArcGIS software to display the locations of the projects. Third and lastly, the data is uploaded online so that it can be used to generate an Operations Dashboard (an online app used to build the interactive dashboard). The dashboard will contain an interactive map, charts, and indicators that provide information on Saipan’s projects and their permits. Currently, only Major and Minor Sited permits issued for Saipan are available and you can expect to see th launch of this dashboard by the end of September 2019. This is a living application, so more data will be added as mroe development projects are permitted.
Dale M. Lewis, a GIS expert, strengthens the purpose of my project when he says: “maps composed of easily recognizable information about land-use issues affecting the welfare of local residents and their natural resources would faciliate communal societies to make technically improved land-use decisions within a community.” As I near the end of my internship, I truly hope that this dashboard will prove to be a great asset to the public and other agencies. Its’ significance lies in its’ ability to help others easily gather information on development projects and as a result, help them better understand how these developments affect the resources of our previous island, as well as its’ people. Hopefully, with a greater understanding of these projects and their avoidable impact, we, as a community, will be one step closer to a future devoted to a balance of continued growth in the development and protection of our island home.
Works Cited: Lewis, Dale M. “Importance of GIS to community based management of wildlife: lessons from Zambia.” Ecological Applications 5.4 (1995): 861-871.
Coral Reef Initiative Education & Outreach, Division of Coastal Resources Management
Coral reefs in the CNMI are threatened by land-based sources of pollution. Nonpoint source pollution is a leading cause of coral reef degradation in the CNMI. Water quality is impacted by urban runoff, failing sewage systems, unpaved roads, farms, land clearing, and development. Stormwater that drains tot he ocean carries sediment and excess nutrients, which smother coral and cause algal blooms, impacting reef health, like the Great Barrier Reef, which as been experiencing for decades a deterioration in their ecosystem due to land-based pollution.
In recent years, more than half of Saipan’s shoreline has been marked “red flag” or unsafe to swim in on a chronic basis. Each of the sites has measured high in the bacteria level more often. As a 2019 DCRM Summer Intern, I conducted field studies with the Water Quality Monitoring and Nonpoint Source Pollution team. We would go out with sample bottles and collect water samples from sites around the island and Managaha that would be brought to the DEQ Laboratory to be tested. The results are able to inform the public whether the location sampled is red (not safe to swim) or green (safe to swim) flag. In addition, I had the opportunity to do a stream assessment at Dougas stream located in Tanapag where we collected data on the stream conditions such as the embeddedness of the rocks, the flora and fauna, and if any contaminants and pollutants were present.
Initiatives like the Garapan Clean Water Campaign encourages businesses and the community to prevent land based pollution from reaching the lagoon. I assisted in getting up to 13 businesses to participate in an Ocean Friendly Property Pledge, which is both a resource guide and good way for businesses to advertise their best practices. I helped to raise awareness within the community about the issues in the environment. I conducted door to door outreach with Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), looking for common environmental violations in the area. I also had the opportunity to be involved int he Garapan Storm Drain cleanup where I tracked the amount of sediment they collected during the clean out. They removed a total of 20-30 cubic yards of sediment.
To expand on these initiatives, I also placed eco cards next to ocean friendly products at all the major stores on the island in an effort to promote ocean friendly practices. Another highlight of this internship was the opportunity to travel to Tinian to help people of the island understand how important their watershed is and ways they can help protect it. Through all the work expereience, I have gained so much knowledge on how much we have an impact on our environment, how storm water pollution affects our nearshore waters and coral reefs.
It has shown me that the issue must be prevented and has inspired me to help others do the same. The skills I have learned and will take with me after the internship is to take the initiative on protecting our environment by preventing these land-based pollution from entering our ocean. My time as an intern from DCRM and DEQ has been a great adventure and I don’t regret a minute of it.
Works Cited: Frederieke J. Kroon, Peter Britta, Schaffelke, Stuart Whitten (2016) Towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef from Land Based Pollution Global Change Biology (Volume 22, Issue 6) [accessed August 15, 2019] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.13262
Coral Reef Initiative Marine Monitoring, Division of Coastal Resources Management
Protecting Our Reefs
Coral reefs provide many benefits for the community including food, shoreline protection, and tourism. Protecting our marine life in the CNMI is essential for present and future generations. The CNMI Marine Monitoring Team (CNMI MMT) are our doctors of the reef. They collect data yearly on 52 long-term monitoring sites across Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. These sites were selected based on association with management concerns such as runoff, sewage outfall, and urban development. They were also selected based on management actions such as watershed restoration efforts and marine protected areas (MPAs). This is to determine the current status and changes the reef has throughout the years. Without this information, immediate action cannot be taken to prevent damages to our reef.
CNMI MMT follows a procedure that requires scuba divers to gather data at a depth of 25 meters. They collect data by taking photos each meter along five transect lines per site. The transect lines used are 50-meter ropes with markings used to indicate every meter. These photos are then taken back to the office and transferred into a Coral Point Count with Excel extensions (CPCe) system. 150 photos are uploaded per site. Each photo contains five random points placed by the CPCe and are identified by CNMI MMT biologists. They identify the genus of coral, algae, sponges, and invertebrate. Having randomized points allows the data to be accurate. After completing a site on CPCe the data is transferred into the database with data from previous years along with data from different sites.
The data allows the CNMI MMT to observe changes in the coral reef and take proper action needed to protect and conserve it. This is done through MPAs and restoration projects. The action taken is essential to allow our coral reef a healthy growing environment. Without these protection efforts, we risk decreasing our food, shoreline protection, and tourism.
Fisheries, Division of Fish & Wildlife
What is Fish Tagging in the Marianas?
You are probably wondering, what is fish tagging? Why do we tag fish? Why is it important? Let me share a little bit of how and what I’ve learned that is an important program for fisheries in the Northern Mariana Islands.
I was selected to be part of the 2019 DCRM Summer Internship. The Division of Coastal Resources Management teamed up with various natural resource agencies here on the island to help out with keeping our ocean healthy. I was fortunate to be part of the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) under the Fisheries Section. My team and I had many projects during my internship. We had fish tagging, crown of thorns monitoring, and buoy missions.
Fish tagging was our main focus. When the weather is right, we take our boat out into the lagoon and start on with our rod and reel. Usually, it takes a while to catch just one fish. When we finally have a catch, we get it into our little bucket and weigh them out. After weighing the fish, we tag it. We use a fish tagging gun to shoot the tags near the top of the fish spikes. After inserting the tags, we let the fish off into the ocean.
We don’t just tag any fish here in the Marianas. Our main targets are the Emperor species and the Carangoides species, also known as Tarikitu. We focus mainly on these species because these species are very valuable food fish to our locals. Fish tagging is important because this helps DFW track information on fish migration, how fast they swim, and their growth. Fisherment are encouraged to call DFW at 664-6000 if they catch any of these tagged species so that we can input data of how many tagged fish are caught.
My overall experience with this internship was better than expected. I had the opportunity to learn fisheries in depth and the importance of CNMI’s coral reefs. I encourage all students to take advantage of this great internship. It has helped advance my interest in marine science.
Enforcement, Division of Coastal Resources Management
Violation = Citation
While waiting in the beaming sun with Enforcement Officer Pangelinan and conducting our routine inspections, a tour guide with an expired permit was not able to present his Marine Sports Operator (MSO) permit card. It is mandatory that all MSOs have their permit cards on them at all times while operating. Tour guides should know this is part of their permit conditions.
Being an enforcement officer requires you to be patient, especially with some of the tour guides that can’t speak English. The tour guide at Grotto was giving us a hard time saying that he had a permit to operate, but he only had a picture of an expired permit contract. We handed the tour guide a citation and told him he could not operate until he renewed his permit.
The 2019 DCRM Summer Internship was my first job ever. I learned the importance of accountability and what goes on behind the scenes of a government agency like the Division of Coastal Resources Management (DCRM). I was assigned to be an intern under the DCRM Enforcement section, where I had the opportunity to work closely with other enforcement officers.
For my assigned project I had to create an educational flyer on the DCRM permit conditions for the MSOs. MSO’s are tour companies that utilize our lagoon for recreational activity. From snorkeling to jetskis, these are forms of marine sports, and these marine sports can impact our valuable coastal resources if not well regulated. For example, a motorized permit for a jetski company has a special location where they are allowed to operate.
The overall purpose of my project was to create awareness among MSO’s on the importance of permit conditions. DCRM wants the MSO’s to follow the permit conditions to mitigate impacts of marine sport activity. Unpermitted MSOs are encouraged to go through DCRM’s permitting process because it teaches the company how to operate with best management practices. MSOs who do not comply with DCRM Permit Rules & Regulations can impact our lagoon. After all, the rules are there in the first place to keep the company and our ocean safe.
Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA)
Bring Back Our Trees
What are we without trees? Trees can thrive in salty places, reduce soil erosion and runoff, enhance respiratory health, provide a habitat for wildlife, combat global warming, and keep our coral reefs alive by lowering temperatures and rooting soil in place preventing sediments from washing into the sea. Throughout the years, we have witnessed the sea levels rising, warmer summers, increasing typhoons, and the corals bleaching faster. Corals are bleached due to increased water temperatures and ocean acidification. The oceans are suffering from an excess of carbon dioxide, which hinders the production of coral skeletons and degrades fish habitats. As a DCRM Intern at the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), I learned that we must always take care of our environment. I admit that i did not think too much of trees before I interned at MINA, but through it I learned the importance of being aware of current conservation efforts and that it is never too late to get involved.
A similar situation can be seen on the island of Kotoka in Tanzania. According to National Geographic’s Sarah Gibbens, Kotoka, with limited resources, was at risk of losing food and water with fisheries and rivers depleting (Gibbens, 2018). Residents came up with a plan to plant appropriate trees to gain new crops and protect the residents from future storms. Like Kotoka, our future depends on how we overcome challenges, and one solution is to plant native trees, even more so for their medicinal use and cultural significance.
This year, MINA launched “Bring Back Our Trees (BBOT),” a campaign that started in response to Super Typhoons Soudelor and Yutu, wherein numerous trees were damaged, uprooted, or destroyed. MINA’s goal was to revegetate Saipan’s shores with native trees to replace those lost in the typhoons and prevent further sedimentation and degradation of our reefs. So far, as a community, we have planted 529 trees on Saipan and 74 on Tinian, exceeding the original goal of 300. The program is funded by the Department of Interior (DOI), with support from community volunteers and lcoal agencies such as the Saipan Mayor’s Office, DFEMS, CNMI Forestry, NMC CREES, CNMI BECQ, Tinian Mayor’s Office, Tinian Fish & Wildlife, and Furey and Associates, LLC. The Tasi Watch Community Rangers maintain the trees’ survival by watering weekly.
As a summer intern, I supported this campaign by studying the trees at our sites through reading materials such as the Common Flora and Fauna of the Mariana Islands by Scott Vogt and Laura Williams, and Island Ecology & Resources Management: Commonwealth of the Nothern Mariana Islands by John Furey et al.,. These books helped me identify the local and scientific names of the trees while I took inventory and recorded the number of trees and species planted at the pre-selected sites. We also monitor the new trees planted and encourage the public not to run over, step, or uproot them. In a few years, we will witness the growth of the trees and see how they are providing a healthy and safe environment for us all.
Without our natural resources, our island would not be what it is today. With gratitude and a sense of obligation, we hope you find a desire to return the favor to our land and protect it, by starting with protecting the trees that have been planted through BBOT, planting more trees in your backyard, and getting involved with other efforts to support a resilient natural environment.
Works Cited: Gibbens, Sarah. “This Island Was on the Brink of Disaster. Then, They Planted Thousands of Trees.” National Geographic, National Geographic, 20 Dec. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com.au/nature/this-island-was-on-the-brink-of-disaster-then-they-planted-thousands-of-trees.aspx.
Shoreline Monitoring Program, Division of Coastal Resources Management
Targeting Shoreline Areas Subjected to Accretion and Erosion
The Division of Coastal Resources Mangement (DCRM) Shoreline Monitoring Program began in 2016 with the goal to understand and predict how fast our beaches can grow and shrink by recording measurements over time and observe the trends of erosion (sand loss) and accretion (sand gain) depending on which cardinal direction the wind and waves toward. With data that’s being collected overtime, we can see which beach’s sand are stable, increasing, or decreasing.
Monitoring activities are conducted bi-annually across Saipan’s west shoreline. This program is run by a team of three people who each play an important role in collecting and analyzing data. The first person looks through a Berger level, a tool that measures elevation from the head stake/starting point of a transect to the beach toe. The second person moves a 16-foot aluminum ruler along the transect line, stopping every 10-feet for the first person to take another measurement. The third person, the recorder, is responsible for accurately recording the data, including measurements, dates and time. Other tools we use to accomplish the project are a data notebook, camera, Garmin GPS unit to find the head stakes or input a new location, and a 100-feet measuring rope or transect line that we layout along the shore to be profiled. With these tools, we can accomplish exact measurements of each beach to compare with the previous year’s data and analyze the changes.
There are usually two to three head stakes at each beach, but some can get lost. For instance, after a super typhoon hit Saipan in 2018, some of the head stakes were gone. We use pictures we’ve taken or GPS points to find our head stakes. It is important to start at the same head stake every time because starting at a different head stake will change the slope measurements and we want to obtain readings from known elevations.
Anfuso, Giorgio & Bowman, Dan & Danese, Chara & Pranzini, Enzo. (2016). TRansect based analysis versus area based analysis to quantify shoreline displacement: spatial resoluation issues. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.
Works Cited: Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308271956_Transect_based_analysis_versus_area_based_analysis_to_quantify_shoreline_displacement_spatial_resolution_issues
Coastal Zone Communications, Division of Coastal Resources Management
Conversations In Conservation
My name is Shannon Tudela Sasamoto, 2019 DCRM Summer Intern working in the Coastal Zone Communications section. Being part of this division means creating consistent and accurate outreach materials available to the public. Essentially, it is connecting with our target audiences to ensure they are doing their part in taking responsibility not just for our islands, but our whole planet. Part of the role of outreach is creating methods we can use to encourage our community to act in ways that protect and preserve our environment. Some of the materials I’ve helped to create include stickers, social media posts, posters, as well as outreach activities for direct communication with the public.
The importance of education and outreach is to translate scientific data and technical language into materials that are easily understood by everyday citizens. In other words, we are the middlemen between the scientists and the community – interpreting and producing informative material that inspires and motivates the public. Just as a scientist’s job is important, so are the efforts from our local community to understand the work towards a better environment for everyone.
Education and outreach doesn’t just stop at our local community, it extends towards tourists, marine sports operators, tour operators, private landowners, and private developers. These target audiences are just as important as our local community because those who have touched our soil and swam in our oceans have the same responsibility to care, respect, protect, and preserve our environment. This is simply because our lands and oceans do not belong to just us, but to our ancestors and future generations as well.
Our environment is the sole link and connection to those before us, sharing the trees they once used for the construction of their huts, the reef that still provides us food and habitats for marine species, and the minerals that was once used for the creation of our symbolic legend and figure, the latte stone. The nature surrounding us defines the strength, pride, and culture of our home. Respecting our environment means respecting our ancestors and realizing that there is so much historical and cultural significance beneath our feet.