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You completed us!

5 years ago, we set out with an eye on July 1, 2016. We dreamed big. You believed in us. The Sharing Solutions fundraising campaign was launched with a Big, Audacious Goal and a belief that a small dedicated group of people can change the world. You did it! What did you accomplish in the last 5 years? Since July 2011 Island School turned 15 years old, graduated its 1,500th leader, and Deep Creek Middle School graduated its 150th. You helped us finish building our science research campus and Cape Eleuthera Institute turned 10 years old. We've hosted thousands of students on short courses and internships - some of whom kept coming back up to 10 different times! You helped us save for a rainy day. You made sure that a third of families in each semester had the financial aid support to make their experience possible. You helped us start an Early Learning Center on campus and our engineering and communications teachers got a home and space to do their work. You helped us upgrade our boat and van fleet. You more than tripled our endowment to $6 million. You helped us invest in people and businesses here in South Eleuthera, and launch teachers and staff off into new careers. You met the overall goal of $15 million to make all of this possible - and surpassed it by over 30% through commitments in place for the next 5 years. Many of you through Sharing Solutions have invested and pledged to secure 10 full years of financial aid, professional development, and great educational experiences - over more than half of the life of our young endeavor.

Each gift helped - over 5,000 different times you made a choice in the last 5 years to make sure we thrive and grow and achieve all that you believed we could do.

Your legacy is profound. We are honored and tremendously grateful. Please come see what you've done - and help us celebrate in the coming year! https://vimeo.com/162191538

From Chris and Pam and the extended Island School family, Thank you!

Alumni Spotlight: Andrieka Burrows (F'15)

Andrieka presenting the ponds research Andrieka Burrows is the very first Island School student to present at the annual Bahamas Natural History Conference (BNHC)

CEI and The Island School were well-represented at the regional 2016 Bahamas Natural History Conference, with representatives giving talks on plastics, climate change, rare shrimp, turtles, conch, sharks, and lion fish. More excitingly, the first Island School alumna joined with the research team! Andrieka Burrows, BESS (Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars) scholar of Fall 2015, attended the conference to present the anchialine ponds poster. Anchialine ponds are landlocked bodies of water with marine characteristics that are connected to the sea through underground conduits. There are over 200 of these ponds on the island of Eleuthera, however, there is very little known about these ecosystems. Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick and Alexio Brown, with a team of Island School students including Andrieka, gathered baseline data on the ponds in order to determine their status and need for protection.

The students found an alarming number of the ponds were impacted by humans.  To conserve these ecosystems, there is a need to raise awareness. Andrieka did this by presenting the work of her research class at the Bahamas Natural History Conference (BNHC). The conference was hosted by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), who manage the protected areas in The Bahamas. Andrieka spoke about why these ponds are so understudied, and her hopes for more research to be carried out in the future.

Andrieka speaks to an interested crowd

“The Bahamas Natural History Conference turned out to be all that I expected,” said Andrieka. “Not only did I get the opportunity to interact with world renowned scientists, who presented their captivating work, but I also got to present my anchialine pond research to these very same scientists.”

Andrieka created much interest in ponds and did an exceptional job presenting her poster, making her research advisers very proud.

Andrieka poses with her researcher advisors Dr. Curtis-Quick and Alexio Brown

Board Leadership in Action

blogDrew Fink (F’05) gets pinned by Chris and Pam Maxey during the evening celebrations hosted by longtime supporters Les and Wendy Morris

In January, the Board of Directors for The Island School gathered in West Palm Beach, Florida for one of their three annual meetings. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate transitions and alumni energy as well as share ideas on the direction and focus of the school as we head into 2016. Alumnus Drew Fink (F’05) was pinned with the starfish as he was welcomed into the ranks of the Board during this, his first meeting. Alums have consistently shown strong leadership and passion for The Island School and its mission of Leadership Effecting Change by volunteering for the Board. Drew was welcomed by returning Island School alums on the Board: Francesca Forrestal (F’99), Thatcher Spring (F’99), Meg Bunn (F’01), Johann Scheidt (S’02), Nick DelVecchio (F’02), Greg Henkes (S’03) and Peter Meijer (S’05)

20160115_195304Chris Maxey talks with Board members Ande Frost (Parent F’04, S’09, S’13) and Greg Henkes (S’03)

Do you want to be part of the The Island School’s Board and play a significant role in the vision, direction and execution of the future of the school? We are reaching out to all Island School, Cape Eleuthera Institute, and Deep Creek Middle School alumni who are at least two years removed from college and would like to submit an application to the nomination committee. If you would like to be considered, and you are passionate about what we do, please write to alumni@islandschool.org with a resume and cover letter describing your interest. The basic requirements for membership are as follows:

  • Minimum of two years of experience in the work force.
  • Demonstrated service to the organization after your semester/summer term.
  • Skill set or demonstrated interest relevant to the work of the Board.
  • Consistent participation in CONCHtribution, the annual alumni giving campaign.
  • Accepting of financial obligations surrounding travel to meetings and other board engagements.

If you are interested, we can send you the Board's handbook for you to learn more about what the expectations for a potential two year commitment entail. The two primary expectations that are held of all Board members are attendance of all three annual meetings (Boston, MA in October, Nassau, Bahamas in January and Eleuthera itself in April) at your own expense, and that The Island School is within your top 3 philanthropic commitments. If you have any questions or simply want to know more, please do not hesitate to reach out to alumni@islandschool.org and we will respond as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Island School Research Projects by Andrieka Burrows

All nine research groups here at The Island School have different components that make them unique to their purpose of study, and very interesting to those who are partaking in them. Island School students team up with CEI researchers and interns who come from international backgrounds and strive for excellence in their particular fields of study. From gathering information on a diverse range of landlocked anchialine ponds to catching deep sea sharks five kilometres offshore, research at the Island School doesn’t only provide answers to unsolved scientific mysteries, but also allows Island School students to develop an intimate relationship with science research as it coincides with “hands on education.”

Ponds Assessment

There are approximately 200+ Anchialine ponds on Eleuthera, yet, there is very little information about these ponds in scientific publications. The inland ponds are unique in their structure and thriving ecosystems that often contain endemic life. The large number of unique species in the ponds are a result of the isolation and the environmental conditions of each ecosystem. Inspired by the seahorses found in one pond, researchers at CEI set out to explore the other ponds on the island. In this research project, baseline information on the water quality, the level of human disturbance and the life present is collected at each pond site. This information will help to support future conservation efforts.

Deep Sea Sharks

Deep-sea shark populations are under global threat due to human activity such as fishing and mining. Therefore studies must be conducted in an attempt to understand deep sea sharks. The group aims to investigate vertical habitat use in Exuma Sound’s deep-sea sharks using satellite tags which record 2 minute resolution, temperature and depth data for each subject. The three target species are Cuban dogfish, Bigeye Sixgills, and Gulper Sharks. Animals are caught on 800 – 850 meter longlines before being brought up to the boat, at which time a satellite tag is attached through the animal’s dorsal fin.The animals are then released in an anti-predation release cage. This work will identify depth boundaries and vertical habitat use in cosmopolitan deep-sea sharks providing useful baseline data for management and policy.

Bonefish

It is obvious that when a fish is captured multiple times it can begin to experience physiological behavioural changes. This research group has set out to study the physiological and behavioral effects of multiple captures and angling events on bonefish. The group also studies how bonefish can recognize and potentially avoid hooks. This study aims to determine how increasing angling pressure and the resulting repeated capture events can affect individual bonefish.

Lemon Shark Physiology

This group of researchers is concerned with how longline gear modifications affect lemon sharks’ stress levels and behavior. To study this, the lemon shark team goes to tidal mangrove creeks to collect juvenile lemon sharks using block/spot seining techniques. After capture, the lemon sharks are brought back to the wet lab at CEI where they are caught in experimental longline tanks. The shark’s stress and behavior are measured by drawing blood and using accelerometer tags, respectively. It is hypothesized that giving sharks more room to swim when caught will affect their stress levels and behavior to a lesser degree.

Bahamian Knowledge of Turtles

There are two sea turtle projects that are conducted here at the Cape Eleuthera Island School. The first examines the social relationship between Bahamians and sea turtle. This is a new project in which the research team speaks with Bahamians to get a better understanding of Bahamian knowledge on sea turtles, sea turtle conservation, and understanding Bahamians’ perceptions of sea turtles and sea turtle conservation, particularly in regards to the 2009 ban on harvesting sea turtles. This involves interviewing Bahamians across different settlements on Eleuthera and recording their responses. This team also conducts in-water abundance surveys to align Bahamian knowledge with sea turtle abundance in different creeks across South Eleuthera.

Green Turtle Habitat Use

In this turtle group, researchers focus on tracking tagged juvenile green sea turtles in an attempt to map each turtle’s home range based on size class. Each tag emits a beeping pattern, unique to each individual, that allows researchers to monitor their movements using a technique called acoustic telemetry. Once individual turtles are located and spotted, a GPS point is recorded in order to create a map that indicates the individual home range area of each turtle. This work will help us better understand juvenile green sea turtles habitat use and help managers more effectively protect this endangered species.

Stingrays

The Stingray Research Team is one of the most intense, exciting research groups here on campus. This could be because the team is constantly in the field chasing and catching stingrays to assess their occupation of space and the differences in habitat specificity of two co-occurring species. When the stingrays are caught, measurements and tissues samples are taken and the animals are tagged to determine long-term site fidelity. The study is vitally important to The Bahamas since this information is not yet known and many habitats critical to life-history of stingrays are degraded or encroached upon. This work will highlight the importance of coastal and nearshore ecosystems to this meso-predator and provide frameworks for conservation and management.

Queen Conch

The queen conch, is a culturally, economically and ecologically important species. There is a need for an up-to-date assessment of conch nursery grounds locally as data collected by CEI & Island School shows declines in adult mating pairs and an increase in the harvest of juveniles. In an effort to produce this information the conch team goes out on a boat and tows two people behind, students count the conch and determine their life stage. This research is important as it will help inform future marine resource management decision making.

Plastics

Last but not least we have the plastics research group. This team normally goes to sea on “The Cobia” to quantify plastic pollution from the Exuma Sound, as well as whether or not fish, such as dolphinfish, tunas, and wahoo, are ingesting plastics. The team pulls a trawl, or a net, behind the boat to collect macro and micro plastics alike. In addition to collecting plastic from the sea, the team also collects fish from local fishermen or from trolling for subsequent dissection and analysis of their stomach contents in order to identify whether fish commonly harvested for human consumption ingest plastic. It is obvious that marine organisms are negatively affected by pollution, but this team is on a mission to find out whether or not plastic pollution is making its way onto our dinner plates!

The Island School prepares for hurricane Joaquin

We continue to prepare this week for hurricane Joaquin. Boats are out of the water, shutters are going on windows, and outdoor activities are abbreviated even as indoor classes continued Thursday morning. Our campus leadership team met again this morning to finalize plans through the weekend, which include assigning people and resources to designated buildings so everyone can shelter in place as the wind and rain intensify over the coming days. IS started the day with AMX and circled up before chores and final hurricane prep around campus

As is customary, we have been watching this and the other storms of the season, and have stocks of food and water, medical supplies and equipment in place, and are ready to respond to needs in the wider community if we are called on. We are carefully monitoring the forecasts of the storm track and intensity, as well as tides and storm surge projections, and have made higher ground or second floor sleeping arrangements in Deep Creek and on campus for employees and students as a precaution, according to our established hurricane protocols. This is a powerful storm with high winds and rainfall expected, and storm surge possible, and out of an abundance of caution, we are taking all reasonable measures.

IS students, faculty and staff help to get the dining hall safe and ready.

During and after past storms regular internet, phone, and utility power services are interrupted, and we have backup power and communications systems in place. We expect that our Boston-based team will receiving updates from campus throughout, and posting them to our Facebook page and to our blog which is the best place to look for updates.

To reach our team about specific concerns please email us at info@islandschool.org or call our US office number at (609) 620-6700. We appreciate all of the well wishes and good energy people have been sending to us. Please look for more updates daily here.