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Honors Guild Freshmen study Small Island Sustainability in the Bahamas

Published: Feb 05, 2013

Dr. Mike Guebert lectures in the Bahamas during J-Term

Taylor University Freshman Honors Guild students have returned from their fourth J-term travel course led by Honors Guild Director, Scott Moeschberger. This year, Dr. Moeschberger and Environmental Science Professor Michael Guebert led twenty-eight students with four graduate assistants to two small islands in the Bahamas to learn about sustainability of natural resources and human ecology.

The course began on the sparsely-population island of San Salvador, the historic landing of Columbus in the New World.  Here, students explored natural resources of landscapes, caves, and marine ecosystems. Student Ben Stuckey commented, “[W]e certainly witnessed creation’s praise of the Creator. From the slow but steady forces of wind and water to the quickly changing ecology of the coral reef we saw many different expressions of the Creator’s mind.”

In the second week, students travelled to the highly-populated city of Nassau on New Providence Island to focus on the human interactions with the environment. Students explored primeval forests and mangrove wetlands, toured water, energy, and waste facilities, and visited government ministries and non-profit foundations. As part of their studies, the students served by clearing trash, planting new mangrove seedlings, and creating sustainability proposals for their host, The Adventure Learning Center.

Student Jessica Tinklenberg reflected on her two weeks in the Bahamas; “I’ve been learning so much on this trip overall. We got to see so much of the natural environment on San Salvador, and now on New Providence we’re seeing a little of how the Bahamians are managing their environment and the ‘natural capital’ of this beautiful country. This culture is warm and welcoming, and everyone we have met has been generous in giving their time and resources to teach us. We truly are blessed to be here.”

Upon return to the United States, the students continued their course by conducting natural resource and ecological footprint assessments in their own “home island”.  Guebert said, “This course is a wonderful opportunity to learn the principles and practices of sustainability in the beauty of the Bahamas, and then to continue that learning by application in our own locations and lifestyles.”