Le Tausagi just concluded another successful EnviroDiscovery camp — this time in Aunu’u. [courtesy photo]

Le Tausagi just concluded another successful EnviroDiscovery camp in Aunu’u!  Le Tausagi is a group of environmentally conscious organizations from both the local and federal government that collaborate every year to teach the youth of American Samoa the importance of conservation of our islands natural resources.

The Aunu’u camp ran from July 17-19th and was graciously hosted by the village of Aunu’u and the Aunu’u Elementary school. Every year Le Tausagi hosts one camp in Tutuila (this year in Aunu’u) and one in manu’a (this year in Ta’u). These camps are targeted at 8-13 year olds, and have fun, educational activities that teach the youth about the land and marine environment, and how they can help be better stewards of their environment. This year’s camp was attended by 42 students, mostly from Aunu’u Elementary School and was sponsored by Project GREEN.

The first day of the camp focused on marine ecology and conservation, specifically on coral reef resilience. Campers learned about why fish need healthy coral, and why coral need fish to stay healthy, and some of the ways that we can help make sure our reefs stay healthy. They learned about the importance of big reef fishes because they lay more eggs for more fishes to be found in the reefs.

Campers were amazed to learn that giant rock-like corals are actually made up of thousands of tiny living animals called coral polyps, and that these polyps are actually very fragile!  Campers also learned about difference types of sharks, and why sharks need our help.

World-wide shark populations have been decimated, by up to 90%!  Campers learned that the biggest threat to sharks is us, humans!  Humans kill many sharks as “by-catch”, the unwanted catch that is typically thrown back during fishing.  But a new, nastier threat to sharks has become a major issue in the past decade – shark fining. 

Shark fining is a terrible practice where all the fins are cut from the sharks and they are thrown overboard alive, where they drown. Since sharks cannot swim without their fins, and they must swim to pump water over their gills to breathe, they end up drowning.

All of these lessons were reinforced through classroom based lectures, interactive activities, games, and in-water activities.

Another activity revolved around the concept of overfishing. NOAA-PIRO interns performed a skit for the students which demonstrated the important role that large fish play in the preservation of fish populations. The lessons were supported by activities demonstrating reef resiliency as well as fish identification lead by the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources.

The second day of the camp focused on land ecology and conservation, specifically the concept of watersheds. 

A watershed in our islands is an area defined by mountain ridges that funnel water down the mountains into a stream that runs out to the ocean, thus our watersheds truly go from “ridge to reef”.  This concept emphasizes the fact that in high islands such as ours, everything is connected, and what we do on land affects not just the land, but also the ocean. 

Campers learned how to use good farming practices to help prevent erosion, and why preventing erosion is so important. Campers got to play with three different “soil boxes”, one which contains only soil, one with some dead plant material on top of the soil, and one with grass on the soil. This allowed campers to see how roots of plants, such as grass, really help stabilize the soil – a critical component to healthy watersheds. 

Other activities included a wetland lesson, nature hike and a GPS activity.

The third and last day of the camp focused on our changing world, specifically the growing global population and climate change. Campers learned about the challenges facing the world due to growing population, such as increasing demands on energy, food, and other resources.  Campers also learned about how climate change is changing our whole planet, and what we expect to see change in American Samoa.

The campers learned a lot while having a whole lot of fun. 

These camps wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support and dedication of our Le Tausagi Chair, Nick Saumweber of USDA-NRCS, Fatima Sauafea-Leau of NOAA PIRO, Kelley Anderson Tagarino of ASCC, Marcella Taulatau and Tony Maugalei of ASCC Land Grant, Solialofi Tuaumu, Derek Toloumu and Trevor Kaitu’u of Department of Commerce, Sione Lam Yeun and Peter Taliva’a of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Samuel Meleisea of the United States National Park Service and Joe Iosua as well as our numerous volunteers, interns and staffers.

 Le Tausagi would also like to thank the Department of Education director designee Dr. Jacinta Galea’i and Aunu’u Elementary Principal Mr. Vaigogo Siauini Ta’ala, and Aunu’u mayor Mr. Aleaga Nili.

Le Tausagi is incredibly grateful to all of our generous sponsors: the Department of Commerce, NOAA, Mom’s Place, ACE American Industries, McDonalds, BlueSky Communications, Panamex Pacific and L&L Hawaiian Barbeque; without you this camp wouldn’t have been possible.

Fa’afetai tele lava to all of you – from Le Tausagi and the campers!


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