On July 15th, eight Belizean teachers and two District Curriculum Officers successfully completed the 8th annual “Teacher Institute in Environmental Studies and Culture” sponsored by the Belize Foundation for Conservation and hosted by The Lodge at Chaa Creek in the Cayo District. Ten education professionals from The State University of New York also attended and were involved in the cross-cultural educational exchange.
The primary focus of the workshop involved training in the utilization of an educational publication entitled “A Teacher’s Resource Guide to Maya Archaeology, Ecology and Tourism of Western Belize” produced by the Belize Foundation for Conservation with support from the U.S. Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education. This resource guide was first introduced into Cayo District schools after the first workshop in November of 2003 and since then over 80 Belizean teachers have benefited from the training.
The five day training workshop is a collaborative effort between the Belize Foundation for Conservation (BFC) based at the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre, the State University of New York at Cortland, and the Belize Ministry of Education.
The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Gail P. Tooker – Assistant Professor Childhood Education Dept. SUNY Cortland, Mr. Pablo Chan – Cayo District Curriculum Officer, Mr. Mike Green – Executive Director of the Belize Foundation for Conservation, and Miss Shannon Wheeler – United States Peace Corps volunteer.
Field activities and conference sessions focused on environmental education, cultural awareness, and sustainable conservation practices. The Belizean teachers were awarded 20 hours of Professional Development credits from the Ministry of Education’s Teacher Education and Development Services. BFC and SUNY Cortland along with the Ministry of Education plan to continue these workshops on an annual basis.
Funding for the institute was provided by the State University of New York at Cortland, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, The Lodge at Chaa Creek and Belize Natural Energy Ltd.