July 06, 2016
Jack Hayward Senior High School agriculture teacher Sherene Butters shows the crops and animals produced by the students of that institution.(Photo: Jenneva Russell)
After Leslie Minns, Marketing Manager and Market Analyst, BAMSI visited Grand Bahama to discuss with school officials the insurmountable job opportunities available in the agricultural and marine sciences fields a month ago, and expressing BAMSI’s excitement regarding the First Agricultural Summer Camp on Grand Bahama, not a single camper showed up Monday to take advantage.
Herbert Marshall, Senior Education Officer, Ministry of Education (MOE) confirmed with The Freeport News yesterday morning, which was to be the first day of the Agricultural Summer Camp to be held at the Jack Hayward Senior High School (JHSHS) farm, that unfortunately no one had enrolled to attend the camp.
Marshall spoke of Minns’ visit in mid-May where the Marketing Manager for the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) explained to educators, parents and students interested in agriculture and marine science that there is far more to agriculture than farming.
During that visit, Minns said, he wants to promote “all of the other things that are possible in agriculture, that we in The Bahamas are not taking advantage of. We are not taking advantage of our timber. We have several good types of timber in this country; there is the Casuarina, the mahogany, horseflesh, which is used to make the ribs of boats, among many others. We in The Bahamas need to start taking advantage of what we have. We intend to be a permanent fixture here on Grand Bahama to share the endless possibilities available in the field.”
Minns had shared with those present at that informative meeting, the possibilities enrolling in BAMSI would afford them.
Stemming from this meeting, Marshall and Shareen Butters, Agricultural Science teacher at JHSHS decided that having a Summer Camp encompassing all aspects of agriculture and animal husbandry would encourage Bahamians to enter the Institute to further their interest in the area.
Marshall, who is thrilled with the fact that BAMSI is in place for the young people shared that, “The whole purpose of the camp at the school this summer is to expose the youngsters to the various concepts of agriculture and animal husbandry in a practical way.
“The JHSHS farm has all different aspects of agriculture – permanent crops, cash crops, ornamental plants, goats, chickens, ducks, goats, and pigs,” Marshall added.
Acknowledging that the camp was initially to run for three weeks, Marshall informed that persons with an interest in these fields could still join the camp. “The camp is open to students from Grades 6 to12 and will give the campers the chance to have personal experiences with dealing with animals – the ducklings, the chicks, to see a real goat, a real pig, and to learn what is involved in growing cash crops as well as ornamental plants. It will not be an academically- challenging camp; it will be a fun and totally practical hands- on camp,” Marshall claimed.
The Education Officer said that the average age of a farmer in the Bahamas is presently 63, so the number of farmers is in serious decline. “There is a resurgence in Back Yard Gardening but we need the young people to get involved and learn the skills necessary to keep this industry alive and to take it to the next level. An opportunity that was never available to Bahamians is now available at BAMSI.
“We cannot give up, if you talk to the Guyanese on the island they will tell you anything can grow here. The students’ exposure to the JHSHS farm will generate that desire,” Marshall furthered.
Butters also noted how disappointed she was at the fact no one had come to the first day of the camp and hoped that by next Monday there will be a group of interested students ready to enjoy a fun camp.
“We want to encourage children to still come out and enroll in the program and eventually in BAMSI after Grade 12. This camp is designed to have them (young Bahamians) more appreciative of what can be grown and how to care for animals,” Butters stated.
The Ministry of Education Official and the JHSHS Agricultural Science teacher acknowledged that although the ‘go ahead’ for the camp was given rather late and there were not any sufficient funds available for elaborate fliers and advertisements, they urge anyone that has children interested, even at this late stage to contact them. Persons may contact Marshall at the MOE at 602-9550 or Butters at JHSHS 373-8750.
By Mia Whylly
Source: Freeport News/Guardian