F The Environmental 4
How much greenhouse
Read this month's "
S0 L Volume 1
ication Newsletter for the Virgin Islands Commnunity
?gases comefrom our cars and trucks?
Straight from the Vine" to find out!
SEA Rolls Out Learning Lab On Wheels
This year, The St. Croix Envi-
ronmental Association, (SEA)
is launching its Environ-
mental Mobile Learning Lab.
The mission will be to visit
schools and beaches and
engage students as possible
in environmental learning
Dan Odell has been recruited
by SEA to act as the Educa-
tional Director and head up
this program. Mr. Odell has
been busy of late, outfitting
the Lab while preparing cur-
riculua and other activities
related to helping the teach-
ers in the public and private
schools on St. Croix bring
activities to their students.
For the first year, Mr. Odell
will focus the students' atten-
tion towards the marine envi-
ronment. The thrust of these
activities will be the "ridge to
reef" concept. In other
words, the activities will cen-
ter around the idea that
what we do to the land, for
example, not only affects the
air we breathe and the water
we drink, but also impacts
the waters surrounding St.
Croix. As a result, water qual-
ity there as well as the health
of our coral reefs is weak-
To date, the following units
of study have been devel-
oped, each with multiple
activities: Characteristics of
water, The water cycle on St.
Croix, Water density, Our
watershed on St. Croix, Soil
and the effects of soil ero-
sion, Coral reefs and marine
plants, marine invertebrates,
how to use and interpret
topographic maps of St.
Croix, and how to read and
use scientific graphs and
Additional units of study are in the
planning stages, and will be devel-
oped with input from the students
and teachers and what local
needs should be addressed.
The Mobile Learning Lab is funded
in part by HOVENSA and the Na-
tional Oceanographic and Atmos-
pheric Administration. Other
funding was made possible by:
American Pest Control, Plaza Extra,
Ferdi's Forest, Seven Seas Water,
Flagship Bank, Sustainable Sys-
tems & Design International, Mar-
shall & Sterling Insurance, Toyota
of St. Croix, and Mt. Victory Camp.
The goal of the program is to have
a vibrant, outgoing, and interest-
ing children' learning experience.
For more information, please con-
St. Croix Environmenal Association
Keeping Science Fun, Island-Style
The Department of Planning
and Natural Resources, Divi-
sions of Coastal Zone Manage-
ment, Energy and Environ-
mental Protection partnered
with the University of the Vir-
gin Islands to host Camp KEEP
(Kids in Energy and Environ-
mental Protection). The 5-
week summer camp was held
in St. Thomas and St. Croix for
middle school students' ages
11 14. The camp hosted up
to seventeen students on each
island and campers were ex-
posed to topics ranging from
renewable and efficient en-
ergy, pollution, methods of
environmental protection and
marine resource conservation. "........
Hands-on activities, crafts, -
laboratory and scientific ex- -
periments served as a venue
to teach kids that science can -
be fun. Following the close of -..
each topic area, the kids went Studentstaketo kayaksaspart of their
on field trips to reinforce con-
cepts learned in class about activities at Camp KEEP-St Thomas.
cepts learned in class about
energy, environmental and
throughout the Virgin Islands.
0 Anti-Litter &
Beautification, St. Croix
0 coral World
0 Island Resources
0 The National Park Service
virgin Islands NP
0 The Nature Conservancy
0 USDA Natural Resources
0 St. Croix Environmental
0 St. Croix Landmarks
0 University of the Virgin
0 University of the Virgin
Islands Globe Program
0 US Fish & Wildlife r
0 VI Department of
0 VI Department of
Planning & Natural
0 VI Environmental
0 VI EPSCOR
O VI Marine Advisory Service
0 VI Resource Conservation
& Development, Inc.
0 West Indies Marine Anima
Research & Conservation
0 October 14:
QUEST Teacher Workshops
0 October 2005:
Energy Education &
Straight from the Vine
VI Energy Office Prepares for Energy Education & Awareness Month
The Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO) is
preparing for the upcoming Energy Edu-
cation and Awareness Month, which will
run during the entire month of October.
Ms. Leila Muller of VIEO is hoping to use
recent rises in the cost of gasoline and
diesel fuels to help drive the point of en-
ergy conservation home to Virgin Islands
residents. "High energy costs have been
a way of life in the territory for some time
now, owing to our power plants using
gasoline as the energy source. What we
hope to do is ride the recent attention to
tell Virgin Islanders that they are not
powerless to combating high power bills.
Every little energy conserving habit
During the month of October, VIEO will
visit schools and community events with
solar and wind power demonstrations as
well as helpful hints to reduce power
bills. Additionally, their website, being
revamped since the start of summer, will
be back online to provide energy con-
sumers more information and advice on
becoming what Ms. Muller calls, "energy-
For more information on Energy Educa-
tion and Awareness Month and other
VIEO programs, please contact:
Ms. Leila Muller
Virgin Islands Energy Office
Or visit their new website at:
Quick Facts on Gasoline
Americans use automobiles for more than
90% of their daily trips. On average, they
will travel 4000 miles more each year by
car than they did in 1960.
Drivers, on average, spend 443 hours
behind the wheel each year, or 19 days.
One-quarter of all car journeys are less
than 2 miles. To walk that far would
require the energy converted from a half
a bar of chocolate. The cost of gasoline is
seven times that of the chocolate bar.
The average American car pollutes its
own weight in carbon injust one year.
In the United States, there is 2 cars for
every I household. Globally, there is I
car per 10 households. In China, there is
I car per 74,000 households, although as
their country continues to become
industrialized, the demand for cars and
gasoline is expected to dramatically
Americans use four times as much
gasoline as Europeans and nearly twice as
much as Canadians.
The average price of gasoline in the U.S.
Virgin Islands has risen by nearly $0.50
since the start of 2005. Over the course
of the year, drivers will pay an average of
$350 more than they did in 2004.
Simple adjustments to daily routines can help
lower energy and gasoline costs by hundreds
of dollars each year Carpooling to work can
save over S 100 for both drivers each year
Share Your Stories With VINE!
Have a great story from a beach cleanup?
Or maybe a poem about sea turtles?
What about a great photo of one of our
incomparable sunsets? Maybe you would
like to publicize an upcoming event? If so,
why not share it for all to read right here
in Straight from the Vine? If so, please
send it along to:
University of the Virgin Islands
RR I Box 10,000
Kingshill, VI 00850-9781
(340) 692-4047 (fax)
Every effort to return original writings and
artwork will be made.
Dolphins Learn to Snorkel on St. Croix
On August 24, The Division of Coastal
Zone Management, partnered by The
Nature Conservancy, took to the pool to
teach 12 lucky dolphins how to swim,
Not the marine mammal so familiar to
our Virgin Islands waters, but kids at the
Dolphins Summer Swim Camp. The one-
day clinic was sponsored by the Division
of Coastal Zone Management and was
held at the Dolphin Swim Club swimming
The clinic was designed to teach kids
snorkel safety and expose them to basic
marine ecology. Large photos of marine
life found in and around coral reefs were
placed at the bottom of the swimming
pool. The kids were then asked to snorkel
to the various photos, practicing their
technique, and learning about marine
ecology at each stop. Agatha Sector and
Rebecca Weatherall from The Nature Con-
servancy provided instruction in snorkel
techniques and safety to the novice snor-
kelers. The kids with advanced skills re-
ceived more in-depth instruction in coral
reef ecology from marine ecologist Paige
For information on the snorkel clinic or to
schedule your own "Learn to Snorkel"
program at your local pool, call or email:
Paige Rothenberger watches as the new
snorkelers practice their new techniques.
. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
DPNR-Division of Environmental Protection Offers Seed Monies
DPNR's Division of Environmental Protec-
tion (DEP), through a federal grant aimed
at improving schoolchildren's awareness
of the impacts of nonpoint source pollu-
tion in the Virgin Islands, has set aside
monies for the upcoming school year for
special programs, field trips, and volun-
teer clubs and groups that increase stu-
dents' interactions with their environ-
ment and encourage a sense of lifelong
stewardship of their island and its natural
Ms. Diane Capehart of DEP said that her
division would try to aid ten public
schools on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St.
John. "This program is offering critical
start-up funds for environmental clubs.
There are so many places and things our
students can discover, if only
they had the means. This will
help the schools afford those
trips and experiences."
Individuals wishing to apply for
one of the awards must repre-
sent a territorial public school.
The money may be used for
any environmental program
that meets DEP's mission to
improve resource stewardship.
For more information or to
request an application packet,
Students from St. Croix-s Ricardo Richards Elementaly School
listen to UVI's Liam Carr at the Earth Day Fair held at the St
George Botanical Garden this past spring. Ten $4000
awards from DPNR-DEP would help more classes andstu-
dents attend fun field trips such as these.
Students Turn Out In Force To Keep St. Croix Beautiful
Through the Virgin Islands Waste Man-
agement Authority's Youth Environ-
mental Summer Program, more than 150
students and staff members worked tire-
lessly throughout the month of July, pro-
viding much needed landscaping and
painting to schools around St. Croix.
Headquartered at the After School
Greenhouse, the program led 125 high
school-aged students outdoors for an
equal dose of hard work and apprecia-
tion for their efforts by members of the
community. Among other efforts, the
students are responsible for the landscap-
ing at the St. Croix Educational Complex,
and the fresh coat of paint at Central
Each Friday, the students were given a
reprieve from the usual work, instead
going on field trips to different parts of
the island to learn about some of the
natural beauty of the island that is so
abundant. Students visited Jack's and
Isaac's Bay with The Nature Conservancy,
Ha'Penny Beach, Blue Mountain, and
Columbus Landing with The University of
the Virgin Islands, and enjoyed tours of
the water treatment plant.
Liam Carr, research analyst at UVI, took a
group each Friday to some of the best
spots on island for enjoying the sights
and sounds of the ocean. "I had students
chest-deep in water at Ha'Penny, helping
to draw a map of the different marine
habitats there. They worked really hard
for me and seemed to enjoy doing it. I
always got a kick out of telling them each
afternoon they had earned some televi-
sion time, since they had walked almost a
mile through the water."
For More Information on the After School
Greenhouse Program and activities for
the upcoming year, please contact:
Ms. Emmeline Simmonds
The After School Greenhouse
Students from theAfterSchool Greenhouse test
their mapping skills atHa Penny Beach. Using a
transect and a series of quadrats, the students
successfully mapped nearly I mile of shoreline
Helpful Energy-Saving Hints
Buy a timer to automatically turn on and
off your lights and air conditioner when
you are out of the house. An average
sized room needs less than 30 minutes to
become cool from an air conditioner.
Water your plants and yard in the early
evening. Waiting for the heat and bright
sun to disappear reduces water loss from
rapid evaporation by over 30%.
Washing your laundry in cold water can
save hundreds of dollars in power bills.
Most laundry items clean as well in cold
water as in warm or hot water.
Group your errands together. This habit
is not only gas-saving but time-saving.
Rather than make five trips each week to
the same shopping center and grocery
store, combining trips will give you more
time to pursue more leisurely activities
when you'd otherwise be sitting in traffic
Carpooling to and from work with a
friend or neighbor is a great way to save
gas and stay involved in your community.
Help Keep VI Beaches Clean! Support
CoastWeeks 2005, in conjunction with the 20th
Anniversary of the International Coastal
Cleanup (ICC), descend upon the beaches and
shorelines of the Virgin Islands to pick up litter
and marine debris this coming September and
Since 1985, The Ocean Conservancy has spon-
sored the ICC, held each September. Last year,
the ICC attracted 300,000 people from 88 differ-
ent countries. They removed 8 million pounds
of garbage, while leaving 11,000 miles of shore-
line cleaner. The local ICC effort, CoastWeeks,
will last from September 18 through October 8.
Last year on St. Croix alone, nearly 500 volun-
teers cleaned up over 7000 pounds of garbage
from their neighborhood beaches. UVI's Liam
Carr said the sense of a strong community
helped make CoastWeeks a success. "We had
elementary schools calling to ask if they could
clean the beach across the street from them.
We had grandfathers calling to see if any group
could use help. HOVENSA sponsored a father-
son cleanup. It was a tremendous feeling to see
the island community pull itself together for
something I think is vitally important to every
Virgin Islander. And that is a love and respect
for their island and to try to make it a little more
beautiful for everyone.
CoastWeeks 2005 is being locally coordinated
by UVI's Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service.
They provide logistical support and supplies,
including garbage bags, for volunteer groups
throughout the event. For more information, to
plan a cleanup, or to sign up for a cleanup near
you, please contact:
Fish & Wildlife Complete Annual Fish Count on St. Croix
For the past several summers, DPNR
biologists from the Division of Fish
and Wildlife have been taking to the
waters off of St. Croix to count and
record the numbers fishes that arrive
to feed and mate. This summer, like
the ones before it, was similar by
what the divers didn't see rather than
what they did.
"There's lots of little fish down there,"
remarked Dr. Wes Toller after a recent
dive in the reefs that make up the
famous Wall dive site at Cane Bay.
"We would love if we saw more of the
bigger ones too."
Although not the only reason for a
drop in numbers, years of heavy fish-
ing activity on reefs have taken their
toll not only in the Virgin Islands but
throughout the Caribbean. Marine
photographer Paul Humann, the in-
pher whose Reef Fish Identification
books are the bible for marine biolo-
gists during the summer counts, sums
it up best about several species, in-
cluding the famous Nassau grouper,
in his brief descriptions of each fish.
He notes, "Once common in many
locations, but numbers greatly re-
duced by spearfishing."
Liam Carr, a research analyst at UVI
who assisted with the fish counting
this year, says the absence of large
fish is as frustrating as it is exciting when
one is spotted. "We know that the top
predators on these reefs are vital to the
longterm health of all the reef inhabi-
tants. Andjust as importantly, these
groupers and snappers are valuable
catches for the fishermen. Nobody
wants to see them disappear. So when I
see a dog snapper or grouper swimming
along, I feel privileged to have gotten the
opportunity. At the same time, I can't
help but wonder if it's the last time I'll see
one or they are the first of many more."
For more information on Virgin Islands
fishes and fisheries, please contact:
Dr. William Coles
DPNR-Division of Fish & Wildlife
Did you know that the emissions
from cars and trucks account for
20% of the greenhouse gases
emitted by the United States each
year? Reducing air pollution is
everyone's responsibility. With the
rising prices in gasoline, carpooling
is an easy way to reduce green-
house gases while saving money.
Carpooling can save nearly 33
million barrels of oil each year
That's 8.2 billion barrels each year.
VIMAS Offers Module On-line VINE to Attend QUEST Workshop for 2nd Year
In response to a growing need for age-
appropriate environmental education manuals
throughout the Virgin Islands, UVI's Virgin Is-
lands Marine Advisory Service is pleased to an-
nounce that their popular teacher's module,
"Nonpoint Source Pollution: An Educational
Module" will be available on-line at their website
for this upcoming school year.
The module provides teachers and parents with
fun activities and stimulating background infor-
mation for a host of topics concerning nonpoint
source pollution from a Virgin Islands perspec-
To access the module, please go to:
By the end of the 2004 QUEST Teach-
ers Workshop, DPNR biologist Dr. Wil-
liam Coles knew he had finally found
his audience. While QUEST continued
to offer the usual fare for the hundreds
of teachers in attendance, it was the
Virgin Islands Network of Environ-
mental Educators (VINE) that was the
must-see seminar. Both sessions, focus-
ing on the multitude of environmental
and cultural resources available to
teachers, were held before standing
room only classrooms. "I think the
teachers were excited to see that there
were all these people just dying to
come to their school and give a great
presentation to their students. You
can't always assume that the busy
teacher will come to you. That's why
VINE comes to them."
This year's QUEST workshop, sched-
uled for October 14, will give yet an-
other chance for VINE to showcase all
they have to offer to the teachers.
Says Dr. Cole, "last year, we weren't
sure what kind of reception we'd re-
ceive. This year, we're going to bring
out all the stops. VINE is more than
guest presenters and field trips. We
have a wealth of materials that they
can use on their own. We want to
encourage sound environmental edu-
cation in the Virgin islands. VINE is
helping move that forward, one
teacher at a time."