The Agriculture departments of H.O. Nash Junior High, C.V. Bethel Senior High and St. Augustine’s College, recently expanded with a special donation from the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI). Executive Chairman of BAMSI Senator, the Hon. Tyrel Young visited each school to gift chickens and baby pigs to add to their growing agricultural programmes.
“Part of BAMSI’s mission is to introduce the science of agriculture to young minds and to help cultivate an interest and passion in the field so that agricultural development can continue to make positive strides in the community and at the national level.” Chairman Young said.
“It was very exciting going to those schools and looking at the programmes that they have going and seeing how excellent they are doing. We support other schools, and other community entities that would try to mimic or at least get started in teaching our kids and community on what it is to grow and to feed themselves. Going forward you would see a lot of support from BAMSI in relation to these different initiatives across the Bahamas, not just here in Nassau, but you would see a lot of it being launched in the Family Islands in the
coming weeks and months of this calendar year,” he said.
“Those schools are doing some great things, teaching the kids about agriculture and the whole sector around sustainability and what it is to feed themselves,” Mr. Young said. “And BAMSI is the agricultural training institute of the Bahamas and we want to encourage students from a very young age to get into this field. It’s a field that the wheel is being reinvented here and there’s a lot of focus on agriculture, aquaculture and the likes.”
Principal of H.O. Nash Junior High Andrae Nairn, said he was grateful for BAMSI’s donation, which adds to the school’s already bustling agriculture science programme which includes cows, goats, ducks, sheep and now four pigs. “This donation helps us to give the experience
of food production and animal husbandry, and gives students an experience with animals that they probably wouldn’t come into contact with,” he said.
Pointing to BAMSI’s role as it leads the charge toward increasing the nation’s level of food security, self-sufficiency and implementing sustainable measures in food production, Mr. Nairn said that the school’s programme helps to get students interested in the idea of BAMSI – that they can do agriculture in a scientific way and do it well. “The longer the food is on the shelf, the less healthy it is. Having it produced locally is better for our health and a lot can be produced here. BAMSI is an excellent idea and hopefully more of our students will go on to BAMSI.”
H.O. Nash currently has 115 students in its agricultural science programme across all grade levels, with about 15 students in each class. Some of the students, Mr. Nairn said, are able to transition to senior schools that have robust agricultural programmes so that they can
continue their education in that area. Unfortunately, however, many end up at senior high schools that do not have aa agriculture science programme.
“The students are very interested in working with the animals,” Mr. Nairn said. ”They participate very well, helping to feed the animals, clean and take care of them. They’ve even seen animals being born on the farm, so they get the experience of seeing them from birth to slaughter.”
While both H.O. Nash and C.V. Bethel received pigs from BAMSI, St. Augustine’s College received chickens. The school does not have an agriculture programme, but, Trevor Tucker, an Art Teacher, started a Gardening Club with senior students about three years ago. About
a year ago, however, he opened the club to the entire student body, from grades seven through twelve. Mr. Tucker was also joined by science teacher Latrell Bethel.
“We combined her Helping Hands Club to help with the Gardening Club and started raising egg layers on campus. Our main goal is to be able to teach students about being sustainable and responsible. We started mainly with selling seedlings to help pay for the feed for the
birds. The students are responsible for helping to maintain the garden. We use the vegetables to also feed the birds as an extra nutrition source.”
For Mr. Tucker, BAMSI’s donation increases the number of layers which will in turn allow them to sell more eggs to students, staff, parents and eventually to members of the public. The club currently meets on Thursdays after school in the art room. Many of the students, Mr. Tucker said, have shown great interest in the burgeoning farm – growing the vegetables and taking care of the birds. “We hope that this will supplement the in-class lessons they are being taught.”
Agriculture Science Teacher for C.V. Bethel Ms. Hasina Johnson, said the school was very happy to receive BAMSI’s donation, adding that when organisations make a donation of any size, it can provoke and encourage other entities to do the same once they see that even a
small gesture goes a long way toward supporting future generations of farmers. She also shared that Ty Sands, an Agricultural Development Officer who manages BAMSI’s pigs, is a graduate of C.V. Bethel and was one of only a few students who received excellent grades in the City & Guilds Examination in Agriculture. Mr. Sands is also a BAMSI graduate. She noted also that about four graduates are currently studying at BAMSI.
Having taught the Ministry of Education’s curriculum for the past 18 years, C.V. Bethel’s programme is an expansive one, with a flourishing garden that boasts dozens of varieties of fruit and vegetables, and a livestock section with 13 pigs (including BAMSI’s donation), layer and broiler chickens and three goats.
According to Ms. Johnson, the school’s livestock are not being reared for reproduction, but to the fattening stage when they will be sold for meat. She explained that because the school closes for summer, and with no farmhand to care for the livestock, they are unable to keep them for longer periods. The money garnered from the sale of the animals is incorporated into the department to procure items that are needed.
The programme, which is an elective, is open to students from Grade 10 through 12.
Source: Yolanda Deleveaux