Blog Contributed By Dr. Sheli O. Smith
This year the OSU course on Global Sustainability turned its focus to the Island of Tobago in the Caribbean. Located less than 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, the island state of Trinidad and Tobago represent a diverse population with a rich, multi-ethnic heritage, and diverse economy. This years 9 students from Metro Early College and Westerville High School partnered with ERIC, the Environmental Research Institute at Charlotteville to explore ways to redesign their coral nursery, create a social enterprise that helps support the environmental efforts of the Institute, and builds community awareness around the importance of reestablishing the coral reefs.
The team spent a month familiarizing themselves with Tobago, its history and environment before traveling to Charlotteville. Islands are a remarkable microcosm of what goes on in bigger scale within cities, states, and nations. Exploring island sustainability holistically helps students see and understand the connections between culture, environment, and economies and differentiate between what are universal variables and which are unique to a given culture.
On Tobago the team explored the island rain forest, turtle nesting, sugar and cocoa plantations, the coral reefs, and became acquainted with the residents and businesses of Charlotteville. By the end of the stay, the team created three presentations proposing their ideas on how to address new nursery designs using nanofibers, social enterprise by farming and producing salable sea moss products, and creating coral reef awareness through educational programs, pamphlets and additions to the ERIC website.
What a great first year! The student, scientific posters will be displayed at PAST Innovation Lab and at ERIC setting the stage for future research in Tobago. Three returning Metro students, Eden, Elise, and Liz hope to continue researching the use of nanofibers in the cultivation of corals.