Global recognition is growing regarding the key role of indigenous communities and traditional knowledge in successful conservation practices. To foster future leaders in ocean conservation Bluecology works closely with One People One Reef. We seek to educate, inspire, and build confidence in the next generation of stewards through mentorship and exposure to traditional management and contemporary field science.
In 2015, the Ulithi Youth Action Program was developed by One People One Reef , in collaboration with Bluecology, as a response to the community view that youth education is at the forefront of sustainable ocean management. Each year, a dynamic team of college students, scientists and educators from California immerse themselves in a cultural exchange to address conservation challenges and potential solutions.
College students collaborate with Ulithi youth on coral reef management and community projects, learning to combine island traditions with modern science for sustainable ocean management, guided by scientists and community leaders.
Students actively participate in the data collection, community engagement and interviews, and cultural exchange. The group is small – eight students – which creates an intimate and immersed learning experience and allows each person to really contribute.
Over 50% of the Youth Program participants are local residents. Some of these students have never visited the islands and reef environments within their own atoll. Engaging local youth in science in the context of the importance of traditional ecological knowledge fosters a path towards understanding how traditional and contemporary science intersect when addressing pressing issues such as reef resilience and food security.