Saturday August 10, 2019 – Mandahl Bay, St. Thomas VI
Camp Umoja’s Environmental Rangers became ‘Vested for Life’ Saturday as the youth citizen scientists received brand new marine life vests through the affiliated ClimateChangeVI.org’s S.E.E.R. Program.
The Science Education Exploration and Research program gives youth aged 12 to 18 field exposure to the Virgin Islands environment and potential career paths. Each Ranger is expected to choose a research pathway as well as learn how to survive outdoors and in a climate changing world.
“Today was our first marine session of the SEER 2019-2020 year,” explained SEER Director Karl Callwood. “Staying safe is our primary goal on the water, so giving out Personal Flotation Devices and educating on their use is our number one focus today”
SEER Director Karl Callwood double checking PFD inventory logs ~ Pic by Donnia Meyers
Rangers and mentors divided up the task of inspecting, inventorying and distributing the dozens of US Coast Guard approved life vests. Stacked on picnic tables on Mandahl’s salt pond beach, the high-visibility yellow of the life jackets fluoresced in the morning light. Rangers assisted each other in choosing the right type and fit of life vest.
“We have new Type II and III vest in sizes from infant through adult,” said Donnia Meyers, SEER Program Mentor and public school teacher. “On an island everyone should know water safety so we are making certain that our Rangers know when and how to use PFDs as well as how to maintain them”.
Each Ranger takes home the vest assigned and is responsible for logging its use and maintaining the vest in a sea worthy condition. Additionally, Rangers must pass marine safety lessons, inspections and expect to be quizzed on any safety issue at any time.
Virgin Islands law mandates that persons age 17 and under wear a Personal Flotation Device for all recreational boating activities. The SEER program requires that all persons, regardless of age, wear a PFD/Life Vest. If fact, both the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources are asking that everyone, regardless of skill level, wear a vest as an example to others.Virgin Islands Code 25 V.I.C. § 327 & 328
“I believe this example is sorely needed,” stated Callwood. “The Rangers were full of excitement and glee when assigned their kayaks, but nonchalant and, in a couple cases, upset at having to wear a vest.
“ ‘I look dorky,’ is what one Ranger said.
“I do not blame the Ranger for wanting to look fashionable,” said Callwood. “As responsible adults, we need to make wearing PFDs so common that the person not wearing one feels out of place”.
The day was not all work and no play. After assigning and fitting vests, Rangers spent the rest of the session observing nature and, in particular, the wide variety of herons present.
OBSERVED TODAY AT MANDAHL (Images by Karl Callwood unless stated)
NEXT SATURDAY’S SESSION: Aerial Drone Lessons in Low Interference Wildlife Surveillance
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES the US Coast Guard has an information link: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/CG-ENG-4/PFDSel/