WILD BAHAMAS An Illustrated Ecology of The Bahamas: Sun, Sand, and Sea from A-Z

WILD BAHAMAS An Illustrated Ecology of The Bahamas: Sun, Sand, and Sea from A-Z

Wild Bahamas

An Illustrated Ecology of The Bahamas:

Sun, Sand, and Sea from A-Z

Over the past two years, Leigh and Lisa Schmitt have been working dutifully behind the scenes. In addition to their teaching, researching, and administrative roles at The Island School, Center for Sustainable Development, and the Deep Creek Middle School, they have been collaborating on a book about the ecology of The Bahamas. Leigh was inspired to write the book as he completed his master’s degree in Conservation Biology from Green Mountain College in Vermont. This illustrated encyclopedia of aquatic and terrestrial organisms of the Bahamian Archipelago covers animals microscopic to mammoth, from the lesser-known rodents like the hutia to majestic and iconic national treasures such as the blue marlin and West Indian flamingo.


Leigh noted that, “the endeavor was challenging, enlightening, a true labor of love, and a family affair.” He researched and wrote the book, Lisa painted the watercolor illustrations, and children Forrest and Ingrid provided feedback and support along the way. “My hope is that this message of conservation will inspire others to preserve and protect their favorite wild spaces.” 


Leigh and Lisa remarked that they were particularly touched and humbled by the support of friends, students, and colleagues along the way. One particularly invaluable research advisor on the project was longtime friend of CEIS, Dr. Ethan Freid, a botanist at the Bahamas National Trust Leon Levy Preserve in Governor’s Harbour. 

Last week, the couple held a book launch with the greater Cape Eleuthera Island School in attendance in the boathouse. The setting was a fitting spot to celebrate concepts such as conservation, preservation, family, and exploration. 


After 5 years living on Eleuthera, the Schmitt family has certainly developed their own Sense of Place- and this book is a tribute to their island home. Lisa explains that, “the book is a bit of a love note. Each moment spent painting allowed me to establish a better relationship with the subject and I feel like I got a chance to get to know this place in an even deeper way that has only heightened my appreciation for the ecology of The Bahamas.”


In the weeks ahead, the author and illustrator team will be heading down-island to share their work with schools, libraries, and other public venues. They plan to give talks, conduct signings, and spread the message of conservation at independent book stores on Nassau this spring as the final editing and publishing of the book was completed locally by Media Enterprises, based out of New Providence.

The book can now be purchased in The Island School Store and is available through Media Enterprises in Nassau. Keep an eye out for more books in the future. These two enjoyed the experience so much that they plan to write another book soon.


Ride For Hope Saw Many Members of The Island School Family

Maxey and his old rusty bike participated in the Ride for Hope this past weekend, completing over 50 miles from Governor's Harbour to the Glass Window Bridge. The event, now in its 11th year, was started by our Board leader Stephen Holowesko, his sister Susan Larson and their extended family. The mission of Ride for Hope is to build awareness around cancer and the need for timely diagnostic care, especially for women here on Eleuthera. Eleuthera has one of the highest per capita incidents of diagnosed breast cancer in the world. Riders come from all over in support of this noble cause, but nobody else shows up with an "iron donkey"! Please consider making a gift to the foundation and celebrate Maxey winning the phat tire catagory... of which he was the only one! 


Celebrating Dave Singer and Diana Kapp (Dave and Di)

Celebrating Dave Singer and Diana Kapp (Dave and Di)

 Dave and Di receive  Robert Bateman  Osprey print a symbol of their ongoing commitment to Island School students

Dave and Di receive Robert Bateman Osprey print a symbol of their ongoing commitment to Island School students

Chris and Pam Maxey along with the Board of Directors were able to celebrate Dave Singer and Diana Kapp during a magical dinner at the Vetter House up high in the hills of Marin County.  David and Chris Maxey are old college friends and Dave and Di have literally been supporting The Island School journey since the beginning.  Dave and Di are well known for the panga that bears their name and works tirelessly to launch students and faculty out on research and diving expeditions. Perhaps their greatest gift and the reason for the Osprey Leadership Circle recognition is their lasting commitment to support a scholarship for a local Bay Area student who is part of the College Track program.  For the past six years the Singer-Kapp Family scholarship has launched a deserving student to participate in The Island School Summer Term.  The new Osprey Leadership Circle has been established to celebrate families and foundations committed to supporting ongoing scholarships that help Island School build bridges to diverse communities around the world.

 Maxey with (from left to right) Elliot Singer SU '17, Lexi Neely SU '17, and Roxy Silva Summer '16

Maxey with (from left to right) Elliot Singer SU '17, Lexi Neely SU '17, and Roxy Silva Summer '16

The 2018 Cacique Maxey Award Goes To...

The 2018 Cacique Maxey Award Goes To...

...Mike Cortina!

 Mike Cortina works on a new solar array at the Cape Eleuthera Marina  -   Photo by Ben Kaufman

Mike Cortina works on a new solar array at the Cape Eleuthera Marina  -  Photo by Ben Kaufman

At a recent alumni gathering in San Francisco at the St. Francis Yacht Club, Pam and Chris Maxey were both present to honor Mike Cortina as the 2018 Cacique Maxey Award recipient.  Since graduating in the Fall of 2002 Mike Cortina has worked hard to maintain his connection to The Island School.  He returned to volunteer every summer during his college years and helped run the volunteer team in the Summer of 2006.  Mike joined the Alumni Advisory Board and continued to serve as he began his engineering career building big buildings in Washington DC.  A call to Maxey where Mike shared his passion for returning to work and teach and make a difference brought Mike back home to Cape in 2012 and he now runs the engineering and food production teams at the new Center for Sustainable Development.  Mike has helped launch numerous Island School student research efforts from a pyrolysis project turning plastic back into fuel and a design charrette looking at how to launch an all- electric dive boat, first in class.  Mike loves sharing his engineering skills and solving problems with his teams.  He is an exceptional mentor and teacher.   As Maxey said before blowing the conch horn, Mike has never stopped living The Island School mission statement of Leadership Effecting Change with a focus on how we can live well on our island campus.  Please join us in celebrating Mike Cortina as our 2018 Cacique Maxey Award winner.

Island School Alumni Work Together on UVM Rescue Team

 Libby Schwab, F'14, and Kyle Titsworth, S'12, on duty together for UVM Rescue. 

Libby Schwab, F'14, and Kyle Titsworth, S'12, on duty together for UVM Rescue. 

Libby and Kyle, Island School Alumni and University of Vermont students, have ended up working on the same team in Burlington, Vermont. UVM Rescue is an Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ambulance. It is staffed and operated by University of Vermont students 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  UVM runs primarily to the University of Vermont Campus, the UVM Medical Center Helipad, as well as responding to mutual aid secondary to Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, and other surrounding areas.  Last year, UVM Rescue responded to over 1,800 calls, with a majority of calls being off campus. We asked Libby and Kyle to answer a couple questions about their experience. Their responses are quoted below!

How did The Island School influence your decision to join UVM Rescue?

Libby -- “Island School taught me to try new things.  That is the whole motto down there.  You throw yourself into this environment, where you know no one, and know nothing.  UVM Rescue is just like that.  Doing something completely different, knowing no one.  Ever since I left the Island School, I told myself I would try something new as often as possible.  When I saw the ambulance at the club fair, I knew this was something I wanted to try.  Like Island School, this club gives me hands on experience in real life situations, preparing me for my future career.”

Kyle -- “My ability to join UVM Rescue was entirely prompted by the Island School nurse and math teacher, Rachael Shapiro. Rachael was an EMT-Intermediate at the time and I constantly spent time bugging her because I was interested in the care she was providing for the community and admired her resourcefulness, leadership, and dedication to her roles. When I returned home I quickly sought out an EMT class and within the first few weeks freshman at UVM year I had joined UVM Rescue.”

Although you and Kyle were different semesters, do you see similarities in your perspective because of your shared Island School background?

“Island School’s major focus is on the environment and sustainability.  UVM shares some of the same outlooks, no matter what scale it be on.  One thing that drew us both here was the focus on the environment and opportunities to be outside.  Like The Island School, a majority of the classes deal with real life situations, such as measuring the cisterns for water, or energy production from solar panels.  UVM Rescue gives us the opportunity to deal with real patients on a daily basis, always challenging us to try new things and improve the world around us."