Young Marine Explorers (YME)

Young Marine Explorers (YME): Empowering Youth Through Conservation

Nassau , BahamasNassau, Bahamas
Year Founded:
2008
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

YME provides a future for at-risk youth by using the ocean to develop leaders with the propensity to address the social, environmental and economic challenges facing The Bahamas. Our citizen science programs instill the connection between humans and the environment and inspire sustainable action.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the ocean could inspire at-risk youth to become the leaders of a sustainable future for The Bahamas and its environment?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A Small Island Developing State and one of the first 10 countries to suffer from sea level rise, The Bahamas must be at the forefront of combating climate change and mitigating it’s impact on the community. There is a disconnect between the importance of the environment and it’s impact on human health and wellbeing. The Bahamas lacks programs to educate and prepare its communities to develop the solution required to address this imminent threat.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

YME educates and inspires at-risk youth to become leaders. They are prepared to address the imminent socioeconomic and environmental implications that climate change and other environmental threats pose to The Bahamas. We do this by engaging youth in leadership development and in-depth environmental education. The programme has a 3-year curriculum designed for secondary school students centred on three themes (1) Ocean, (2) Biodiversity and (3) Sustainability. Each theme year has specific learning outcomes achieved through 26 after- school and Saturday field activities. YME’s curriculum has been designed to correspond with public education learning objectives; matching content to academic expectation to create a coherent curriculum.

Awards

2015 Bahamas Icon Award for Youth Development , 2015 IDB Juscelino Kubitschek Award of merit of regional development of Latin America and the Caribbean, Honourable Mention; Natural History Museum of London Exhibit, Caribbean Coral Crusaders Documentary
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Truranda is from the inner city. Attending a school that had a graduating average of a D, she became a member of YME. In YME she excelled in the program and at school, becoming the president of the club. Her experience with YME drove her to seek higher education in Small Island Sustainability. At college she founded a YME chapter to expose others to the program. She went on to work in the environmental sciences first as an education officer and then as an aquarist. She is currently a mentor to the YME college program and has just launched an Eco-Tour Company. She received The Bahamas 2015 youth leadership award for the Environment. Trueranda has devoted her life to conservation and is actively working to combat climate change.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

To date, with 3 chapters 778 students have participated in YME. Initially YME offered summer camps and symposiums. Evaluation of 100 students in a climate change camp showed significant improvement in 4 of 5 subjects. We saw a need for an expanded curriculum and a greater interface with the students; creating our Conservation Program. An evaluation tool assessing content retention, reasoning skills and application is being developed. YME created a 2-year internship for qualified YME graduates noting the link between increased access to post secondary education and the development of sustainable behavior. Interns work for YME and are enrolled in a US virtual college program. Our Conservation Center, opening in 2016, will promote climate change as a fundamental part of professional development within local communities. Based on the current success there is a demand for expansion of YME.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

YME's long-term goal is to serve 4,000 Bahamian public school students by 2025. YME graduates will demonstrate improved performance on standardised exams, improved understanding of local laws and regulation, appreciation of volunteerism, improved problem solving, improved workforce skills and will become environmentally aware citizens actively involved in combatting climate change. The spread strategies include strengthening our core team and expanding the board of directors, involvement in advocacy coalitions, conducting and publishing research, expansion of programs and marketing our impact.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

YME has a diverse portfolio of donor/investors. As The Bahamas is yet to allocate appropriate funding to environmental education YME works with the private sector to fund our programs. By building the organisation and increasing our influence with policy and legislation YME strives to institute appropriate public resources. Two of our core team members will be dedicated to seeking donor investor/ social enterprise partnerships.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are a number of environmental organisations currently working in The Bahamas such as The Bahamas National Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation and Save The Bays. YME stands out as the only organisation that incorporates a research based approach that connects the well being of people to the care of their environment including climate change. YME is also unique as it targets at-risk youth transforming them into agents of change.
Team

Founding Story

As a Bahamian I love the ocean. In an island nation threatened by climate change I saw the disconnect between Bahamians and the environment. I had to act and started YME, targeting public school students not receiving environmental education. Initially we built emotional connections with youth and the environment. Conducting research, I saw that the poor output of Bahamian public schools inhibited sustainable behavior driving environmental degradation. As such we offered educational opportunities that encouraged youth change attitudes and behaviors. Now, YME helps students develop a stronger internal locus of control and a propensity to combat climate change and build a sustainable Bahamas.

Team

YME’s current composition centers around the CEO and founder, a board of directors, an advisory board interns, volunteers and part-time staff. YME’s future growth looks to formalise a more comprehensive administrative and operational team including Director level positions, manager level positions and coordinator level positions as outlined in attached chart. This growth is contingent upon securing appropriate funding and the development of a strategic plan. List of Current Staff: CEO and Founder - Nikita Shiel-Rolle Organisational Consultant- Matt Aubry YME Paid Intern - Tavano Sweeting YME Paid Intern- Laron Bethel Board of Directors: Curtis Campaigne - Chair of the Board Diana Lynn - Director, Financial Committee Hubert Edwards - Director, Financial Committee Maggi Shiel-Rolle - Director, Secretary Dr. Kathleen Sullivan Sealey - Director Andrea Moultrie - Director Nikita Shiel-Rolle - President YME Advisory Board: Felix Stubbs - Advisor Jacqueline Campaigne - Advisor Dr. Rajan Amin - Science & Education Dr. Suzanne Banas - Science & Education Dr. Ashley Miller - Science & Education
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through a friend studying at Cambridge University

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder and CEO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

As a former Zoological of London Edge Fellow ,the training I received in conservation project development and management has been directly applied to the development of YME.
During the development of my TEDx talk "How the Ocean can Inspire a Nation" I was able to experience the power of connecting a local grass roots project to large scale global issues specifically climate change.
Through YME being featured in a documentary at the Natural History Museum of London and the selection for the IDB Juscelino Kubitschek - Award of Merit for Regional Development I realized that YME has the potential for a global impact and as a result it has changed the way I design our programs.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Mentors Include: Eleanor Phillips, Director of The Nature Conservancy Northern Caribbean Program; Dr. Heather Koldewey, Head of Global Conservation Programmes Zoological Society of London. T.J. Maloney, CEO of Lincolnshire Management