The National Parks Trust and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College hosted an education and training exercise with students from HLSCC and Connecticut College from July 2 through 16.

As part of the exercise, NPT Director Dr. Cassander Titley-O’Neal taught students about various environmental topics related to the Virgin Islands, including geology, climate, beaches, mangroves, salt ponds, seagrass beds and coral reefs, according to a joint press release from the NPT and HLSCC.

The students then completed field exercises to reinforce the concepts they had learned.

As part of that process, Connecticut College students dove
the wreck of the RMS Rhone and collected data that would assist the trust in updating its systems plan, the release stated.

Students from both institutions also assisted Susan Zaluski, head of marine studies at HLSCC, with the college’s mangrove nursery at Paraquita Bay and the expansion of the NPT’s mangrove nursery on Anegada.

“This collaboration provides a unique opportunity for my students to learn about the blue economy,” said Connecticut College biology professor Dr. Maria Rosa. “They learned a lot about the ecology of the BVI and received a culturally relevant perspective of the island economy and green economy. They had an amazing experience, and I am looking forward to future collaborations.”

Ms. Zaluski said she was pleased that the college could support the development of relationships between international academic institutions, local students and local agencies carrying out scientific work in the territory.

Dr. Titley-O’Neal said, “I look forward to a continued working relationship between HLSCC, Connecticut College and the students from both institutions as we continue to build capacity within the marine sector of the BVI.”