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YOUTH GROUP IN BONAIRE HONES IN THEIR SKILLS IN JOURNALISM. The Bonaire Outreach Foundation, under the leadership of Mr. Dennis Martinus, served as host to two distinguished faculty members and Journalism students from Florida universities Mach 8-16, 2008. On their second trip to the island, Professor Joe Ritchie, who holds a Knight Chair in Journalism at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee where he teaches reporting and editing to undergraduate and graduate students and Dr. Louise Ritchie, who has been a journalism professor and newspaper advisor for six years, also at Florida A&M University, a former national award winning feature writer, columnist and executive for the Detroit Free Press and presently a media consultant, led a team of four students to assist the Bonaire youth group in improving their journalistic skills, acquiring meaningful programs and life experiences and developing into responsible radio journalists. The Florida students, skilled in radio productions and performance, Internet Web authoring, podcasting, videography and team building, assisted the island's youth group in improving the quality of their Saturday morning radio magazine. The Bonaire youth received assistance on the technical elements of producing the show, studio practice and skills development and for reviving the Outreach den Akshon Web site and uploading an edited version to the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication site. The host youth also received technical assistance on videography with an aim toward producing videos for the island's web site and a television feature package about the Bonaire project for broadcasting on the FAMU TV-20 Channel. The Florida advance journalism students were: Akin Ritchie of Rollins College, Jermaine Fletcher, Alexander Acosta, Vanessa Lemaistre and Driadonna Roland from Florida A&M University. This project was made possible by a contribution from the Knight Foundation and support from Florida A&M University and FAVACA.


Fernando Simal, manager of the Washington Slagbaai National Park in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, wanted to improve staff skills in guiding visitors to the museum and park trails. Washington Slagbaai is the island’s only land park and is an important component in the diversification of Bonaire’s tourism industry which revolves around scuba diving. Veteran volunteer Brian Polk, planning manager in the Florida Park Service, Bureau of Natural and Cultural Resources, Tallahassee, worked with the park’s 13 staff June 25-July 2, 2003. Polk’s work included correcting of exhibit text, including more photographs of commons birds, designing exhibit cases with easier access for changing exhibits, adding benches along the trails, and developing guided walks and tours. Polk also taught recreational skills such as birding, kayaking, and consulted on how to start a Junior Ranger program. Resources for obtaining educational materials were also provided.


Following a development mission by FAVA/CA staff to Bonaire, Mr. Dennis Martinus of the Bonaire Youth Outreach Foundation requested technical assistance in the development of a Youth in Government program. The Foundation initiated this project with the goal of involving young people in the legislative and decision making process of their Government. Eventually, the delegations of youth participating will learn skills such as debate, writing and enacting legislation, and lobbying. Volunteer John Trombetta, Tallahassee, active in the YMCA Youth in Government Programs in Florida and Alabama traveled to Bonaire November 12-19, 2002. Trombetta met with the adult team to provide ideas and guidelines for setting up the program, as well as meeting with both youths and adults to discuss the content of the program. In all, he worked with 22 participants and was successful in leaving them with a solid action plan to begin the implementation of their Youth in Government Program.


Washington Park is an operating unit of the non-profit Bonaire National Trust - STINAPA . In late 2000, during a development mission by FAVA/CA staff David Pasquarelli and Dave Schmeling, park officials conceptualized continuation of a project initiated in September 1999 by long-time FAVA/CA consultant and former Florida parks chief Ney Landrum. The thinking was to redesign and improve the park’s visitor’s center and museum, and to institute improved management systems. Florida Parks official Brian Polk assisted Washington Park Director Fernando Simal in planning and implementing the project August 13-20, 2001. Activities included: 1) Design of a visitor’s center that meets current standards for design, materials and accessability, 2) Development of two walking trails and historic area, 3) Improved park brochure and park map, 4) Orientation maps in visitor’s center, 5) Preservation of artifacts, and 6) Development of a park management plan. Polk, a 24-year Florida government veteran is planning manager in the Florida Park Service Bureau of Natural and Cultural Resources in Tallahassee. A former park ranger, he has served as a Volunteer Corps consultant in the Bahamas and Jamaica bringing a wealth of parks management, archives, handicapped access planning, and display expertise.

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