BREEF Welcomes Two Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholarship Interns

BESS Scholars Asia Butler (left) and Gayle Burrow (right)

Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) Gayle Burrows and Asia Butler completed their 100- day semester at The Island School in Cape Eleuthera in December and are now interning at Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) They are encouraging others to apply for the BESS programme – a transformative year-long experience for graduating 12th grade Bahamian students.

Gayle is an 18-year-old Queen’s College graduate who has been interested in coastal and marine protection in The Bahamas from an early age. Gayle hopes to pursue a career in ocean and coastal conservation and is looking forward to her experience at BREEF bringing her closer to that goal. Asia is a 17-year-old graduate of Harbour Island All Age School, Eleuthera where she served as president of the Bahamas Plastic Movement Ocean Ambassador’s Club and has a passion for increasing food security through backyard gardening.

Other 2022-2023 BESS scholars Taye Fountain and Darielle Bullard completed their internships and are now immersed in their Island School semester. Darielle completed her boat captain’s license before heading to Eleuthera.

During their first week of internship Asia and Gayle had the opportunity to snorkel BREEF’s Coral Reef Sculpture Garden with students from Cornell University and gave a presentation to students at C.V Bethel High School. The interns helped spread the word about the Nassau grouper closed season and conducted their first reef fish surveys as they now gain hands-on experience working with a Bahamian non-profit marine conservation organization. “I am so excited to start this chapter of my BESS scholarship programme and I can’t wait to see what we do next,” said Gayle about her experience with BREEF so far.

The Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholarship (BESS) programme is a unique year-long work and study experience endorsed by the Ministry of Education that includes an engaging BREEF internship and a full scholarship gifted by the Cape Eleuthera Island School. BESS is geared towards motivated Bahamian graduating high school students between the ages of 15-18 who are interested in learning more about the environment, conservation, and sustainable systems as they transition from high school to university studies. Students from around the archipelago are encouraged to apply through the BREEF website before the 28th of February application deadline.

BESS Scholars Gayle Burrows (left) and Asia Butler (right) at snorkel event with students at Cornell University

Recognizing the growing need to solve problems in a rapidly changing world, BREEF and The Island School mentor these independent students through solutions-based learning and scientific research internships. Upon completion of the programme each scholar leaves well equipped to lead The Bahamas into a more sustainable future. Since 2008, 55 young Bahamians from across the archipelago have benefitted from this exceptional educational experience, with most scholars going on to pursue related tertiary studies or being currently employed in the environmental field. The BESS Programme is a collaboration between BREEF and The Island School with over $160,000 provided in scholarships from The Island School to make the programme possible.

BESS Scholar Gayle Burrows snorkel ready

BESS Scholars Gayle Burrows (3rd Left) and Asia Butler (1st Right) with Cornell University students at BREEF’s

Coral Reef Sculpture Gardens informational display.