Tag Archives: Human Ecology

Student Update: The Final Week

This morning all 53 students headed off on their way. Congratulations Spring 2015! Here are some reflections from the final week.

Conch Fest

Last night proved the saying “the party don’t start ‘till we walk in.” Arriving at conch fest around 4:35 we were the first ones to occupy the fair ground in Deep Creek. After a day of pouring rain, the grassy area sloshed under our feet. We decided to walk up the street for a little bit of puppy TLC. There is a house behind the local drug store Jemmaks that is home to seven or so puppies who have provided much enjoyment to Island School students over the past couple weeks. By the time we all finished loving on the little bundles of fur, Mooch (the famous) had set up her booth.

The interesting albeit ironic thing about conch fest is that the Island School and CEI profess strongly that conch should be given up in favor of a more sustainable fishery. Because of this, CEI had a booth dedicated to promoting lionfish consumption. Lionfish are highly invasive in this area and are both sustainable and delicious. In addition, one of the Community Outreach projects that was presenting at the festival was Destinee’s trashion show. The show featured Deep Creek Middle School students, Island School students, and faculty alike. I have to say, I was highly impressed by what Destinee was able to create with chip bags and Caprisun pouches. We left the festival early to prepare for the half marathon the next day. What a way to end the semester: trashion, fried food, and exercise.

-Locke Curtis

Human Ecology: Energy Track

I grew up hearing all about grown ups and work and the “real world.” It has all seemed so far off; but it wasn’t until I was sitting in a conference room with four of my peers, blankly looking at this project before us, that I realized “real life” was staring me right in the face. The task was to design a renewable solar energy system for the new Anderson-Cabot graduate hall. This design had to consist of an energy audit, schematic, financial analysis, step-by-step guide to what would be produced and how, all thoroughly explained and justified in the format of a professional written proposal.

Group dynamics were rough; with so much to do and no idea where to start, heads were butting and emotions were running high. It took awhile to get our ideas off the ground. But the reason there was so much frustration was because we were all so passionate about the project and truly wanted to do the best job we could. With 3 5-hour class blocks, we spent a total of at least 18 hours, not even including the hours put in outside of class. I realized that simply sitting down and getting it done would not be a possibility. It was a long two weeks of a lot of mistakes, a lot of compromises, and a lot of disappointment. But thankfully, we ended up with more successes than failures. Deadline day came and we turned in a completed 24-page proposal, followed by a 5-minute pitch to our peers, faculty, and even the family who donated the money for the building. Hard work doesn’t even begin to describe what we did, and accomplished doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel now. It goes to show that we truly are capable of anything we set our minds to- just one example of many showing how The Island School pushes you to be your best, and to explore the endless potential we didn’t know we had.

-Madeline Parker

Plastics Summit

On Thursday night we went to bed, just the 52 students and few teachers that live on campus. After a good night’s sleep, we awoke on Friday to find that there were suddenly over a hundred people in line at the dining hall. This semester, Island School had the honor of hosting a large youth summit on the issue of plastics on the weekend of June 5, or World Environment Day. The guest list included a number of Bahamian schools, members of the United Nations, Celine Cousteau-Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, 5 Gyres, Bahamas Plastic Movement, the Bahamian Minister of Education, and a few other organizations and important individuals dedicated to reducing plastic use. Oh, and there was this guy named Jack Johnson, whoever he is. Friday morning started with presentations from the preeminent scientists and researchers in the field of plastics and went on the ceremony where Jack Johnson was officially named a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Program. He went on to play a few songs…and wow. He sounded exactly like his recordings, and he did it all with a laid-back ease. The next event on Friday was the dedication of the new Anderson-Cabot Grad Hall, where Maxey, Aaron Schultz, and the Bahamian Minister of Education honored the Andersons and Giant, the architect of the actual grad hall. The grad hall will serve as housing for grad students, interns and researchers that come through CEI.

On Saturday, we had our culminating project for research, where we displayed all of our work in a way that would reach audiences from toddlers to scientists. My group presented our poster, but we also had a slideshow with photos and videos and we designed and constructed two games. Research has been incredibly fun, but it was a relief to finally be done with our projects.

Today, Sunday, the Plastics Summit came to an end with a bang. We all biked down to the marina for lunch, and were greeted by a local band called the Rum Runners. After we finished our meal, we got a special treat. Jack Johnson then performed for us, with the help of some of the crew of the Mystic, the ship he sailed in on, the Rum Runners, and even two Island School students (shoutout to Lily and Hal).

This whole weekend was pretty surreal. There were so many impressive individuals, from scientists to politicians to musicians to professional surfers (who just stopped by today to say hi and join Jack Johnson). I hope that this summit and the relationships that we built during this weekend will last on to further semesters.

-Douglas Vetter

Island School’s New Eco-Friendly Uniform: A Human Ecology Project

Ryan Schendel and Jake Varsano (F'12) put the Recover Brand t-shirts to the test by wearing them during morning exercise.
Ryan Schendel and Jake Varsano (F’12) put Recover Brand t-shirts to the test by wearing them during morning exercise.

When we unveiled our updated Island School logo last fall, we also got to work on updating the Island School uniform to match. In fact, it was two Island School alumni who really got the ball rolling. During their Fall 2012 semester, Ryan Schendel and Jake Varsano decided to take on this daunting task as their Human Ecology final project. Determined to not only live, but also wear, The Island School’s mission to live well in a place, they began to contact vendors and test products. By the end of the Fall 2012 semester, they finally found their match in Recover Brands, a small eco-clothing start-up based out of Asheville, North Carolina that shares our same devotion to conserving the environment. We are excited to announce our partnership with Recover Brands, and introduce their products, made from 100% recycled apparel. We also continue to be proud of our students’ efforts to be leaders effecting change, especially once they leave The Island School.

“Jake and I saw an opportunity to apply the sustainability factor of The Island School campus to the clothing we wear – this was a chance to take responsibility of the origins of our uniforms and campus clothes and recognize the impact our clothes had on the environment. I think the project was and will continue to be successful because now Island School students can be proud of the clothes they wear every day because they know the story, know their environmental footprint, and see a continuation of the campus sustainability from the moment they put their shirt on.

As for me, I know after I got my Recover IS shirt, it reminded me of our sustainable campus. Every time I put it on at home, I remember how it’s different from my other shirts, and it reminds me of Island School’s sustainability. I think it’s important in the future for IS students to learn about Recover and their clothing, just like when we got a campus tour of our sustainable systems. This way, their IS clothing can have an impact, just like it does for me.” –Ryan Schendel F’12

“I am proud to say this new clothing brings The Island School another step closer to its mission of sustainability. I hope our project inspires future students to aim their projects towards something they feel passionate about and are confident will help improve our campus, allowing it to be the best model of sustainability possible. I would also like to note the efforts that were put in on campus by all who helped once Ryan and I went home. To quote Maxey, ‘It is not about the guy with the idea, it is about the guy who recognizes the idea and helps run with it.’ Well, something like that. It is time that we started wearing our mission!” –Jake Varsano F’12

If your wardrobe needs updating, or your old Island School t-shirt needs replacing, visit the new online store: http://www.recoverbrands.com/store/category/the-island-school.

Summer Term 2013: Academics Update July 11, 2013

After a week exploring South Eleuthera above and below the water, the students are already taking on the academic portion of Summer Term!  Again, the students are quite busy, so Summer Term faculty have filled in for this blog post!  We, as faculty, are consistently asking them, “How can we live well in a place?”  Exploring this question, students will rotate through week long intensives focusing on three different themes: Marine Ecology, Food Systems, and Tourism & Development.

Marine Ecology: In Marine Ecology, the classroom is not a room full of chairs or desks. Instead, the classroom is a small portion of a larger coral head, buzzing with fish of all sizes and coral of all kinds. As students learn about various components of the marine ecosystem, they have the opportunity to explore what they learn in class underwater by taking the time to observe a single section of a reef. Students return to the same spot every class, each day more aware of the complex interactions that make a functional ecosystem. Students also dive into the world of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson and participate in discussions about ethics and conservation.

Food Systems class visits Edrin’s farm in Rock Sound.

Food Systems: Understanding where our food comes from, how it gets to our table, and where our waste going after we are through are all essential in gaining a sense of place and grasping our term’s theme: living well in that place.  During the Food Systems unit, students will visit farms (both on and off Island School’s campus) to learn about the challenges and techniques to growing food on Eleuthera.  In addition, students will understand both our environmental and social impacts that accompany our production of waste products.  After two and a half days of in and out of classroom learning about food systems and human ecology, students will take part in intensives that highlight important sustainable food systems here on the Cape.  Students will break up into two groups, focusing on either the Aquaponics system at CEI or the Farm on Island School’s campus to further understand how to live well in a place with regards to the food we eat and the waste we produce.

Tourism & Development (Down Island Trip): Students explore the island of Eleuthera on a four day camping road trip. While visiting new settlements, such Governor’s Harbour, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, student conduct interviews with local Bahamians. On the Down Island Trip, students also visit some of the natural attractions like ocean holes to swim in, or caves to climb through. Throughout the week, students conduct a variety of readings and have discussions about how tourism has shaped the development of Eleuthera. As they see the effects of failed tourism on the island, they began to discuss alternative forms of tourism and how it can be done so in a sustainable way for the island of Eleuthera. The class opens student’s eyes to how we can travel and understand a place we are visiting, as well as getting a chance to see all 100 miles of Eleuthera!

Our first Down Island Trip comes back to campus today and we are looking forward to having our whole community together this afternoon!  Stay tuned for more updates from Summer Term 2013!

Human Ecology Intensives

During kayak rotations this term, students had the chance to do what we call an ‘Intensive’ for Human Ecology class. Students focused on one project to develop the viable solutions, skills, and knowledge that they need to take home with them. The three intensives included: Plastics and Marine Pollution, Aquaponics, and Sustainable Agriculture.

In Plastics, the students conducted beach plastic surveys to determine how much micro and macro plastic has washed up onshore different beaches of Eleuthera. The Aquaponics team learned more about the system located at CEI and built their own ‘backyard aquaponics’ model. The Sustainable Agriculture group worked on The Island School farm and designed their own grow bed and ‘herb spiral’. Check out a couple of the videos that the students created about their experience and the project they worked on!



SP’12 Human Ecology Project on CEI’s Aquaculture Program

At the conclusion of every semester, Island School students break into small groups to focus on a single final Human Ecology project based on an particular interested that has developed throughout the semester. Spring 2012 students Brendan James, Liz Ellinger, Paul Henderson, and Kyle Forness studied the Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Aquaculture program and its history and created an informational and professional video for educational purposes. Check it out!

Small Feet – Human Ecology Measured

by Anne, Adam, Annie, and Nick

The Island School prides itself on being an environmentally conscious institution; yet how kind is the school to the earth? Yes, we make our own biodiesel and compost, have solar panels and a wind turbine, we even pump our sewage into manure for bananas, but what is our carbon footprint? Up until this point in time, the actual carbon footprint of the school had not been calculated and this human ecology group set out to do just that. Carbon outputs, as many of you know, pollute the atmosphere and play a large role in climate change. Though poorer nations like The Bahamas do not have the largest impact on the global carbon footprint, islands like Eleuthera are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. We felt it was our responsibility to understand our carbon impact on the world so that we could make steps towards living more within the school’s pillar of “sustainability.” Continue reading

Legs to Lights – The Power of Human Ecology

by Jon Vredenburg

The purpose of our project was to raise awareness about energy consumption. At The Island School, we have spent many community meetings talking about water conservation. Yet not as much concern is shared with electricity conservation. 80% of our power comes from our solar panels and wind turbine, which is great, but that means that 20 % of our electricity is still being generated at the diesel power plant in Rock Sound. Continue reading

Fish Silage: Turning Fish into Fertilizer

Island School students, Aldis, Brett, and Sara are doing a human ecology project that utilizes the cobia harvesting waste into livestock feed and fertilizer, trying to further close the loop in our sustainable model here at CEI/IS.  The fish silage will be used to feed the pigs and tilapia, as well as a fertilizer at the farm. Continue reading