Category Archives: TCI Environmental Club

A Day Without Plastic!

Volunteers at the Quality Supermarket downtown; DECR officer Cleveland Harvey, Sandra Shaw, a young helper, and Pattie Ehlir Carlin, passed out over a hundred reusable shopping bags to  the community, including this fantastic bright orange style donated by PPC.

It has finally arrived after months in the making . . . . . A Day Without Plastic!  The tci-environmental-club, as part of our Campaign to Ban Single Use Plastic Bags in the TCI, has successfully held the first ever Turks and Caicos Islands World Environment Day event. The organisers Lynn Robinson, David Stone, Lindsay Mensen, Roland Wojewodzki, Lormeka Williams, Wesley Clerveaux, and myself, could not have accomplished a fraction of the goals without the assistance of so many businesses and generous members of the community.  We would like to thank grace bay resorts, the veranda, provo power company, wiv, grace bay realty, KB-Home-Center, Building Materials, and British West Indies Collegiate for the donation of over 1,000 reusable shopping bags for today’s event.

Volunteer Malcolm Ross with IGA management giving away the reusable bags donated by WIV

   We would also like to thank all of the retailers who agreed to refrain from using plastic bags, welcomed our volunteers at their businesses, and let us speak with their patrons for todays event.  And last but certainly not least, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of the individuals who donated their morning to our cause:
Gabrielle, Jessica, and Guillaume at Island Pride Supermarket, Eric Salamanca of the DECR and Malcolm Ross at the graceway iga, Sandra Shaw, Cleveland Harvey, and Pattie Ehlir Carlin at the Quality Supermarket downtown, Will and Laura Leoncilla of, and DECR director Wesley Clerveaux at the Price Club supermarket, Kenol Joseph of the DECR and Joana Vaz Pinto at the Quality Supermarket on Leeward Hwy, Christa Reckhorn of the free press and Kristi Vestal of after 5 Concierge at the KB Home Center, Lyle Schmidek of grace-bay-realty and Teresa Brunner of tropicaldmc at business-solutions, Lynn Robinson and Subrena Pedican at graceway gourmet, and Stacie Steensland of TC Millwork and Lindsay Mensent at do it center provo

Our final thanks goes out to big blue unlimited who sponsored the purchase of 18″ x 24″ aluminum “Shop With Thought” signs that were hung at each of the above establishments by tcmillwork volunteer Stephane Gaudet this morning to remind patrons to use their reusable bags each and every day.  It was a real pleasure to have all of these great businesses and people working side by side today for a common goal.

One of the first shoppers to receive her Building Materials reusable shopping bag.  Way to keep it green Do It Center!

Please take the time this weekend to do something for World Environment Day.  Watch the global W.E.D. map come alive with efforts all over the world here.  Be inspired.  Take action. Love where you live.

Shop with Thought!

  One week from tomorrow on Saturday June 4th, the TCI Environmental Club will host a World Environment Day event as part of our Campaign to Ban Single Use Plastic Bags in the TCI.  We are looking for volunteers to help us distribute FREE reusable shopping bags to the community from 9am -12noon at the Graceway Gourmet, Graceway IGA, Building Materials, Island Pride, KB Home Center, Price Club, and Quality Supermarkets.  Please contact Stacie Steensland at, or call Lynn Robinson on 431-5966 to join the movement to keep the
Image from here

Wondrous West Indian Wetlands Workshop

 On Thursday April 28th and Friday April 29th I had the great opportunity to attend the Wetlands Education Workshop and Fieldtrip organized and conducted by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds, the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, and the DECR.  Lisa Sorenson, President of the SCSCB, has spent over 25 years researching birds in the Caribbean region, a well known “hotspot” for biodiversity.  We boast over 770 species of birds, 148 of which are endemic and 54 of which are globally threatened.  Lisa explained that many of our birds are neotropical migrants, and our islands wetlands serve as important resting points for many species on their long journeys.  The Important Bird Area Program (IBA) has determined that there are over 283 IBA’s identified in the Caribbean and alarmingly 43% of these are unprotected.  Studies have shown that only 10% of birds original habitat remains which is why many species are declining rapidly.  Among them, the endemic West Indian Whistling Duck, one of the rarest ducks in the Americas.  This large nocturnal duck perches in trees and is unique in that both parents incubate eggs in 24 hr shifts and have long term bonds.  Loss of habitat, mongoose and rat introductions, and overhunting has caused their populations to diminish.  If you are lucky enough to see one of these graceful, goose-like brown spotted birds or hear them vocalising with their enchanting chiriria whistle, please log your siting on

The West Indian Whistling Duck is depicted on the Wonderous West Indian Wetlands Resource Book, a copy was given to each workshop attendee for future reference.
  Wetlands have historically been viewed as wasteland, and that development of wetlands was a sign of progress.  Lisa, and her colleague Michele Kadind from the oak hammock marsh interpretive center, were here in the Turks and Caicos to educate us on just how inaccurate those mistruths really are.
“through interpretation, understanding; through understanding, appreciation; through appreciation, protection.”
-Freeman Tilden
Michele is an educator who leads programs and training workshops at oak hammock marsh and her speech dealt with teaching techniques.  She highlighted the basic steps of educating: first, introduce, second, expand knowledge, third, nurture their caring, and fourth, encourage action.  She stressed that showing enthusiasm, addressing fears, and managing fears are vital throughout the process.   She also touched on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, relaying the theory that the physiological needs of the student must be paramount, followed by safety and security, then social acceptance, then the students esteem will be at a level conducive to learning and that learning will  lead to wisdom.  Learning is maximized through the senses.  People retain 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, 50% of what they see, and 90% of what they do!  Makes sense right?  She then went through the various learning styles and explained that most people are a combination of two or more.  Verbal/linguistic/auditory are individuals who learn through listening.  Visual learners learn through seeing things, they often need to write things down to retain them to memory (these are the to-do listers and I am definitely one of them).  Kinesthetic learners are educated through action, demonstrations and hands on activities.  There are mathematical/logical learners who like to apply formulas and calculations to their learning.  Musical learners will often put lessons to song  (remember your ABC’s).  Interpersonal learners enjoy group dynamics and working with others whereas intrapersonal learners that soak in information the best on their own.  Last but not least, there are the naturalists, those that investigate, research, and categorize.  Which learning styles are you?
  Next up we had local naturalist B. Naqqi Manco discuss TCI’s wetlands.  Naqqi explained there are 20 different categories of wetlands but the three broadest are palustrine, estraurine, and lacustrine.  Palustrine wetlands lack flowing water, are non-tidal, and contain concentrations of ocean derived salts.  An estuarine system is a partly closed wetland with a coastal body of water flowing into it, a connection to the sea. is present.  A lacustrine system is a wetland that is permanently fed groundwater,   Cottage pond would be a good example.  Naqqi explained that wetland flora is typically diverse and ephemeral but and that a forested wetland is technically a swamp.    The most well known wetland flora are mangroves and here in the TCI, the red mangrove would be the most identifiable.  Popular wetland shrubs include the locally known jamaican trash, sleepy morning, ollie bush, and false frangipani.  A wetland made up of herbs, grasses, or forbs is a marsh.  Naqqi demonstrated a musical learning technique with his short poem to help differentiate the three; “sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have joints when their folks aren’t around!”  Maybe not a good poem for the kiddies but hey, a little humor helps people learn too!  Popular TCI marsh shrubs would be ferns, heliotropes, heather, and sea purslane.  As for wetland fauna, flamingos are likely the best known of the bird species but waders, waterfowl, sandpipers, plovers, seabirds, and birds of prey all frequent wetlands.  Sometimes these birds can be seen feasting on other wetland inhabitants, invertebrates such as fairy shrimp, sea monkeys (whose eggs can live 6-8 miraculous years!), crabs, dragonflies, damselflies, diving beetles, remipedes, butterflies, moths, toe biters, and everyone’s most despised, mosquito’s.  Fish like killifish can also be found in wetlands, and sometimes even marine fish like small barracudas and snappers.  Reptiles and amphibians love wetlands.  We all know frogs, especially greenhouse frogs and cuban treefrogs, live in our wetlands but also snakes like the rainbow and pygmy boas, anoles, and geckos are often found in these systems.  The only mammals typically seen in wetland areas would be bats and feral livestock for watering.  All of these animals make wetlands their homes and our ecosystem relies on all of these flora and fauna to survive and thrive.  Sadly the largest threats to wetlands are . . . us.  Development; infilling and draining these areas mean loss of habitat to all of the above mentioned. If you live or own property near a wetland, preserve it, protect it!  Pollution and littering can have severe effects on the wetlands and the wildlife that rely on these areas.  NEVER throw any piece of non plant based garbage into the environment, ANYWHERE!  Garbage belongs at the dump, not on every road, beach, and wetland in our beautiful islands.  Invasive species such as livestock, dogs, and cats, can also have ill effects on these areas.  Make certain your dog, cat, goat, horse, or cow is not endangering any other species in a wetland area or natural habitat. 
Images by pepperkeystacie

  The term “wetland” would be quite logical except for the fact that they are not always wet.  Wetlands are often seasonal, transitional habitats, that are regularly flooded with water.  Here in the Turks and Caicos we boast 23,600 acres of wetlands!  Once educated on the many benefits of wetlands, you will see why they play such an important role to our safety and the islands overall health.  Wetlands firstly provide flood control, these areas basically act as sponges that soak up excess waters from heavy rains and surges.  Hurricanes would be far more devastating should our wetlands deteriorate as they provide coastal protection by impeding storm forces.  In addition they help provide climate control.  Wetlands act as filtration systems breaking down and removing pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and pesticides.  They also act as a sediment trap, which can be valuable in slowing down sediments before they cause damage to coral reefs and other areas.  Wetlands can be used as a a water supply, both for human and animal use.  They literally are living nurseries; they host a great deal of sea life at some stage of development in their lives which means that much of the seafood we eat needs these areas to develop.  They are a habitat full of biodiversity of which the Caribbean is rated in the top 6 of the top 25 most biodiverse regions on the planet which gives our wetlands an even greater importance. Workshop attendees got to see for ourselves just how beautiful and active our wetlands are on day two of the workshop, the fieldtrip.

The group was given binoculars, bird identification cards, and a journal to log entries.  Within minutes a dozen different species of birds were spotted.  Lisa and Michelle demonstrated how to properly use the binoculars (you should never see two separate circles like in the movies), how to register various markings and bird shapes, and how to listen for clues to assist bird identifications. 
Each attendee was also given a Mangroves of the Caribbean Identification Guide, please click here for a great website that explains and shows the differences between the Rhizophora mangle or Red Mangrove, the Black mangrove, the Laguncularia racemosa or White Mangrove, and the Conocarpus erectus or Buttonwood mangrove
For more information on how valuable wetlands are and what you can do to help protect them please visit  If you live or plan to visit Turks and Caicos, please spend some time appreciating our wetlands and the many species they support.  Then do your part to introduce that knowledge upon others so that they too may be able to appreciate, then care, then take action to protect a wetland near them.  My sincere gratitude to these two passionate ladies, Lisa and Michele, who lead a fantastic workshop that was enlightening and enjoyable for all who had the pleasure of attending. The Turks and Caicos Islands thank you for your incredible and steadfast efforts to keep our region “beautiful by nature.”

TCI Shines and Earth Day

Photo by David Stone
“Please Help TCI Shine All Year Long!”  This was the TCI Environmental Clubs message for last Saturday’s clean-up.  Big thanks to the artistic skills of several kids at the Edward C. Gartland Youth Centre
Photo by PepperKeyStacie
Participants in the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association‘s TCI Shines Campaign showed up bright and early at 6:30am at the Lower Bight Park.  Here are the teams and individuals we all have to thank for making Providenciales cleaner and greener:

  Much to my disappointment, after seeing 36 new volunteers sign-up at the Volunteer Fair and all 200 members of the TCI Environmental Club alerted via our facebook page, only ten of us turned up for this great initiative.  Unlike last year, where the event saw far more partipants, we were unable to meet our goal of 700 bags collected.  The good news is that for the very first time, we were able to separate recyclables from the litter, all of which was so generously collected by TCI Waste.  

Huge thanks to IGA and Graceway Gourmet for their Earth Day efforts
  Tomorrow is Earth Day, please get out there and Clean It Up and join our Campaign to Ban Single Use Plastic Bags in the TCI.  Lynn Robinson and I made note of how many plastic bags we collected over the 3 hours and tallied over 150 plastic bags removed during TCI Shines with just the two of us!  Please shop with thought and bring your own reusable bags, don’t use a toxic plastic bag designed to last over 1,000 years for ten needless minutes and then throw it away to pollute our environment.  If you see someone littering in TCI, please educate them on why they shouldn’t.  Let them know there will be a bottle deposit coming soon to a parking lot near them and to keep those beverage containers as they will be worth CASH!

Volunteer in Turks and Caicos!

TCI Environmental Club table and poster, artwork provided by art class students of the ECGYC, followed by the Red Cross, the TCSPCA, and other tables.  Please click here to watch the ptv 8 media coverage of the event at the 3:40min mark.  Our interview at the 4:40min mark
Great live performance by the Enid Capron Primary Students
All images by PepperKeyStacie

 On Saturday April 9th, the first Turks and Caicos Volunteer Fair took place at the Gus Lightbourne Sports Complex located in downtown Providenciales.  The fair was organized by Magnetic Media, whose primary goal was to gain 500 new volunteers to support local organizational efforts.  The over 40 groups that participated included civil, community, church, even athletic organizations.  I was fortunate to participate on behalf of the TCI Environmental Club, and saw for myself what a fantastic turnout and success the event turned out to be.  I volunteer regularly at the Edward C. Gartland Youth Center and try to help out as much as I can with Potcake Place and the tcspca, and still had no idea just how many great and deserving groups and clubs are operating in our little country with big hearts!  I would encourage every single person, whether Turks and Caicos Islanders, full time residents, part-time residents, visitors, young or old!, please take some time to make Turks and Caicos a better place.  Listed below are all the participants, please contact any of the below to get involved in your organization(s) of choice:

100 Black Man Of The TCI Art Forbes 231-1220
Baseball Pastor Bradley Handfield 232-1970
Bethany Brotherhood
Brownies Gertrude Forbes 231-4307
Cancer Foundation Marilyn Forbes 231-2629
CAPAA Winsome Fearon 244-2693
Civil Servant Association Rufus Ewing 231-3063
Community Care Access Association Sandy Elder 241-1307
Community Fellowship Centre Bennett Thomas 941-3484
Cricket Association Michael Pureora 331-3607
Diabetes Foundation Elaine Clare 241-7601
Disaster Management Jamell Robinson 231-0177
Drug Foundation Gerilane Rigby
Edward Gartland Youth Center Roxanne Wake-Forbes 331-9602
Emergency Medical Services Patrick Riel 331-8193
Girls Guide Gertrude Forbes 231-4307
Health and Social Service
Heart Foundation Karen Malcolm 247-3269
Interact Carl Isaac 232-7509
Kidney Foundation Claude Swann 242-3883
Kiwanis Stanley Taylor 231-0496
Mary Kay Connection/ Lady Bug Melanie Smith 431-2049
National Aids Program Aldora Robinson 331-1426
National Cancer Society Lucille Lightbourne 231-4374
National Youth Hotline Tiffney Ellis 242-9196
Native Man Fellowship Bill Grant 341-6242
Pot cake Foundation Susan Blehr 231-3052
Provo Amateur Basketball Association Sydwell Glasgow 244-9508
Provo Chamber Of Commerce Tina Fenimore 232-6418
Provo Children Home Almartha Thomas 243-3205
Rapport Hezron Henry 941-4984
Red Cross Julia Brothwell 244-0318
Rotaract Nicquell Garland 244-2330
Rotary Art Forbes 232-1220
Salvation Army Matthew Trayler 431-9711
Seven Day Adventist Judith Robinson 231-2950
Star Foundation Roger Harvey 333-3999
TCI Aids Awareness Foundation Jeannie Savory 231-1150
TCI Environmental Club Stacie Steensland 242-8209
TCI Sports Commission Darian Forbes 242-6246
TCI Tennis Foundation Art Forbes 232-1220
TCI Volunteer Fire Department Aubrey Felix 231-9904
TCSPCA Susan Blehr 231-3052
Youth Department Angela Forbes 331-4892

Special thanks to two young ladies, Jada and Adriana, who spoke to me for quite some time about their impressive knowledge of taking care of the planet.  Both  9 years old, these two brought the most encouraging words to our table; “we promise to take care of the environment Stacie!” they proclaimed enthusiastically as they skipped off hand in hand to visit the other tables.  When you volunteer, moments like those make it all worthwhile.