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CONNECTING YOUTH WITH ENVIRONMENT THROUGH ENVIRO-DISCOVERY CAMPS

Le Tausagi teaches conservation through hands on learning
Le Tausagi Enviro-Discovery camp brings together government agencies and the young children of American Samoa in fun-filled and educational programs about the environment. Pictured are some of the youngsters in Manu’a that attended the camps in Ta’u. [courtesy photo]

Wonder why all those children were running around Ta’u after Flag Day? Or why the Fale Samoa grounds at Utulei were setup with tents two weeks ago? Well it was a good bet that you stumbled across one of Le Tausagi’s annual Enviro-Discovery Camps. 
 
 In honor of Youth Month and targeting the youth of American Samoa ages 8-14, the Enviro-Discovery Camps brought youth and environmentally concerned governmental agencies together for 3 days of learning, activities and fun. 
 
Attended by over 150 students from across American Samoa, the Enviro-Discovery Camps taught students about the importance of caring for the environment around you. The camp is designed to teach the students that conservation of our natural resources is important and that the only way to protect them is to first understand all the different components of our environment. Understanding our environment from “Ridge to Reef” ensures that students have a good understanding of how the different aspects of nature rely on each other for survival.
 
Tapping into the resources of ocean and land based agencies ensures that students are learning from experts in their respective fields. By bringing all these agencies together for an event like this, you ensure that students are able to build connections between their learning.
 
There are many things in our natural world that we take for granted and this camp is designed to teach the students that while something may seem worthless, to nature it is priceless.
 
Coral reefs provide home to fish, which provide us with food, but they also protect our island from storms and waves. Deforestation on land can cause increased erosion which can harm the biology of our streams and wetlands and ultimately, impair our coral reefs. 
 
Making these connections between land and sea allows students to identify and understand relationships between the different aspects of our environment better. This “Ridge to Reef” concept is behind everything Le Tausagi does. 
 
Camp activities were designed to teach students a variety of different lessons such as understanding the threats to drinking water supplies, learning about erosion and ways to reduce it and fish identification courses. Skits, plays, games and art all reinforce these ideas and imbued the youth who were in attendance with basic knowledge about the importance of conserving our natural resources. 
 
It is our hope that the students are able to take these lessons and apply them to their own lives and villages.
 
Le Tausagi aims at bringing together the educational components of environmentally concerned agencies for the betterment of the island. 
 
This year, ten agencies were present at both the Manu’a and Tutuila camps. 
 
The six ASG agencies were the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs (DYWA), the Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG), the American Samoa Community College Land Grant Forestry (ASCC-CNR), the Department of Commerce Coastal Zone Management Program (DOC-ASCMP), American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA) and the American Samoa Soil and Water Conservation District (ASSWCD). 
 
Federal agency partners include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Islands Regional Office (NOAA-PIRO), the National Park Service (NPS), the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS) and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS).  
 
Each of the agencies brought their own type of knowledge to the camps and provided the students with an opportunity to understand that caring for our environment requires a complete understanding of all of its parts.
 
Students participated in activities ranging from understanding soil erosion to learning about threats to our territories coral reefs. Each activity was created by a different agency and aimed at raising awareness about a particular issue. Dramatic plays and skits created by the campers demonstrated what material they absorbed throughout the camp.
 
Le Tausagi would like to send a heartfelt thank you to our sponsors Bluesky Communication, ACE American Industries, GHC Reid Co. Ltd., the American Samoa Soil and Water Conservation District, the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and the Coral Reef Advisory Group’s Go Green Initiative. 
 
Thank you as well to the Territorial Energy Office (TEO) and Taliga Vaiolo for assisting and sharing his knowledge of their programs with the Ta’u Manu’a camp. 
 
A thank you also goes out to the Department of Parks and Recreations and Rev. Tautua of the Department of Education for allowing Le Tausagi the use of their facilities for our camps. And, of course, a thank you to all the Directors, Superintendents and Managers of all Local and Federal respected agencies for allowing your employees to shine and share your programs throughout the camps.
 
Of special note: This camp would not have been possible without the help of Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs director Roy Ausage and his staff, as well our official camp emcee, Joe Iosua (J-Smooth). 
 
Finally, thank you to all the campers for your positive attitude and willingness to learn, it was our sincere pleasure to spend those summer days with you.
 
For more information about Le Tausagi camps and to learn about how Le Tausagi may be able to help your school, church group or community become more aware through our educational outreaches, please contact Le Tausagi Chairman Nicholas Saumweber at 633-1031 ext 122.



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