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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-11:43:20A.M.






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Saipan’s middle schools are for environmental conservation

(MINA) — Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance held an orientation workshop for the 5th Annual “Schools for Environmental Conservation” or SFEC program with several of Saipan’s public and private middle school students on Feb. 2, 2019.

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Colleen Flores and Mallory Muna presenting Marine Debris 101.
David Benavente presents on the Effects of Marine Debris on the environment.
Schools for Environmental Conservation participants tagged a total of 18 storm drains along Coral Tree Ave in Garapan.
Ms. Joan Bahillo and her students from Hopwood Middle School after tagging a storm drain.
Mount Carmel School’s team of students and teachers with one of MINA’s Tasi Watch Community Ranger Sowm Kaipat.
BECQ’s Julius Reyes with Ms. Marseli Frank’s students from Tanapag Middle School.
School team from Dandan Middle School with their team advisor Mrs. Judith Castro and MINA’s Becky Furey.  MINA photos

Funded through the U.S. Department of the Interior, SFEC was designed by MINA for the active engagement of students in educational and field activities while focusing on a specific environmental issue. 

Through the SFEC program, teachers and students develop a Conservation Action Plan wherein they design a project, develop strategies and measures, implement those strategies, then use those results to adapt and improve on future projects.  

Participating schools in this year’s program are Mount Carmel School, Dandan Middle School, Hopwood Middle School and Tanapag Middle School, totaling 10 teachers and 36 students.

 Coming on the heels of topics such as marine protected areas, climate change, watersheds, and coral reefs, this year’s theme is “Learning About and Actively Addressing Marine Debris in the CNMI.” 

The subject of marine debris calls for more attention, as waste from other countries washes up on our own beaches. 

“Marine debris is not just a local problem — it is a global problem and it is an everyday problem” said Mallory Muna of the Division of Coastal Resources Management under the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, one of the presenters at the orientation workshop.

Her colleague, Colleen Flores, reported that in last year’s International Coastal Cleanup, the CNMI had “over 700 local volunteers [who] removed over 5,500 pounds of trash from numerous locations across Saipan, Tinian and Rota.” 

With this year’s theme addressing marine debris, the students had a storm drain tagging activity for the afternoon portion of the workshop. 

The students applied stickers above the storm drains along Coral Tree Avenue, the road between Fiesta and Paseo de Marianas, with markers in  English, Chinese, and Korean languages, which say “Do Not Dump...Drains to Ocean.” 

As a follow-up to the students’ efforts, MINA’s Tasi Watch Community Rangers are currently partnering up with BECQ to complete the installation of additional markers for the rest of the storm drains located in Garapan.

Muna encouraged all the workshop participants to do their part: “We hope to help increase public awareness that what enters the storm drains, enters the ocean.  As individuals, we can all help by reducing single use disposable containers, skipping the straw, using reusable bags, minimizing chemical use, planting trees and or volunteering.” 

Jolly Ann Cruz, SFEC program manager, echoed that sentiment: “With MINA’s mission of ‘Empowering Communities for Conservation,’ we continue to address the issue of marine debris prevention through outreach in the schools, at community events and through the Adopt-A-Bin program where businesses sponsor recycling bins at popular beach sites.”

MINA would like to thank the Department of Public Works for their collaboration on this project, whose crew ensured that the storm drains were cleaned out and safe for the students’ hands-on activity.

MINA would also like to thank Pacific Islands Club, Tasi Tours and Transportation, and the presenters at the workshop: Mallory Muna and Colleen Flores (DCRM), Michelle Kautz (MINA), David Benavente (DCRM), Sowm Kaipat (MINA), Julius Reyes (DCRM), Jihan Younis (DCRM), Rodney Camacho (DCRM), and Brooke Nevitt, former executive director of MINA and volunteer, who, together with Elizabeth Furey, was one of the originators of the SFEC program.

Cruz concluded the workshop by sharing something that the Dalai Lama once said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

To learn more about MINA’s Schools for Environmental Conservation program, visit MINA’s Facebook page, email MINA at, or call us at 233-7333 (REEF).