Education. Inspiration. Change. What’s the formula?
An interview with Caren Eckrich.
Caren arrives at the Dive Friends Yellow Submarine location straight from a dive, she’s beaming with that after dive glow. Which immediately makes us connect, having come from working on the boat that morning! If I’m honest my first thoughts were: I want her t-shirt; I even told her that!
She remarked, “You’ll have to volunteer with the shark programme,” well I’m now signed up!
Caren currently works with STINAPA AND DCNA as the Shark Pride Programme Director, but she has had a variety of roles during her time here on Bonaire. We begin to explore Caren’s diverse background, her love for the ocean began at a very early age. It was this love that led her to travel and gain a Masters in Marine Biology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaquez.
Her thirst for travel and the sea took her on a sailboat voyage, although it had to end it did bring her to meet her husband and on to Bonaire. Caren has enjoyed Bonaire as a home for the past 15+ years. (A brief move back to America affirmed that she belonged on this island). She first set up the highly successful “Sea and Discover NV” business offering unique classes and activities in combination with snorkelling and diving for youth and adults. For seven years, she gave customers lessons and guided them on snorkelling and diving trips. She then moved on to work as an instructor at CIEE, the marine research station on Bonaire, teaching marine biology to university students.
Her past and present roles are education and youth focused. Caren has an overwhelming passion for education directed through community and school outreach. But it’s not just education, it’s the way it’s presented: make it interactive! We agree that there is no better way, make the activity fun and you’ll get more people involved!
Changes within the community need to occur, she emphasizes youth need to be targeted in order for this to happen. As they say, knowledge is power; combine that with incentives and the impact could be huge. Hopeful that given this knowledge the youths can then teach their older family members important environmental lessons.
What about sharks on Bonaire? This ties right into her methods; while there may not be many here it is an invaluable lesson to teach protection of a species. Always hopeful that lessons learnt can be lessons passed along.
I cannot wait to volunteer with her!