Young Protected Area Manager Uses Dance to Convey Conservation Messages in St. Kitts and Nevis

4 August 2015

Over the course of its activities in the Caribbean, the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme, jointly implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has focused much of its efforts on capacity building among young protected areas managers. One such professional who has benefited from several training opportunities through BIOPAMA is 28-year-old Tricia Greaux, who is currently employed as the Marine Resource Officer responsible for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) at the Department of Marine Resources in the federation of St Kitts and Nevis.

Tricia Greaux is a certified MPA Manger and serves on several committees that are geared towards establishing the first Marine Managed Area in the twin-island state. A natural dancer, choreographer, and certified cultural and creative entrepreneur, Tricia is a firm believer in bringing community awareness through dance. As the sole founder and director of the Anjolique Dance Company (ADC) she has used her talents to boost the awareness of different social and environmental issues including; Breast Cancer Awareness, Child and Domestic Violence and Abuse, Water Conservation (Just Do 1 Thing Campaign), and Lionfish Awareness in her country.  Here Tricia shares insight on her background, participating in BIOPAMA training, and her future goals: 

How did you decide that you wanted to be involved in protected area management and when?

My fascination with whales and large marine mammals came at an early age. Being the granddaughter of a fisherman played its role in shaping my appreciation for the marine environment. A visit to my primary school from Green Peace prompted my desire to protect the habitat of these animals. The conviction I felt that day motivated me to rally my classmates to sign petitions to prevent the hunting of whales. 

High school experience enhanced my appreciation for the environment. I knew my legitimacy on the matter would benefit only if I became qualified. That recognition influenced my decision to pursue Marine Biology at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). There I served as UVI Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ambassador and initiated the ‘Pristine Pearl Environment’ programme through the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. programme initiatives.  Part of my degree requirements, involved presentations on topics of my selection; ‘Using dance to teach Biology: an adjunct method’, and ‘Marine Protected Areas – A Dancer’s Message’. After the second presentation the reality of the lack of a regional connected marine managed area systems propelled me to actively engage in playing my role to change this. I applied to the Department of Marine Resources to be employed as the officer responsible for Marine Protected Areas in 2013. I’ve continued on in that role and am presently involved in establishing our first marine managed area.

How has being involved in the two BIOPAMA-sponsored workshops in Belize and Grenada enhanced your capacity to manage protected areas?

The BIOPAMA sponsored training in Belize that I attended as a Junior MPA Officer inspired me by seeing how Belize has established and managed a network of MPAs, so this has now been added to my list of goals for the Eastern Caribbean region. The Grenada workshop provided an academically rigorous course set that resulted in my certification as an MPA Manager.

What, if anything, do you intend to change in your management practices now that you have participated in these workshops?

Participation in these training opportunities has enhanced my managerial skill set. They have also led me to truly appreciate all of the work, resources and effort that is involved in initiating and sustaining endeavours like MPAs.

What are the key messages that you choose to send to the general public about protected areas?

The key message I want to send to the general public is to support the positive management decisions and actions we are trying to make now to protect and nurture the resources of the marine environment, in order to ensure a sustainable livelihood for the future users of this resource.

How did you decide to use dance as a medium to get these messages across and where are these performances usually held?

As a dancer, I am well aware that movement stirs and evokes responses in order to reflect themes and messages. So naturally, I use this medium of dance to communicate my love and passion from the sea. As the Director of the Anjolique Dance Company our performances have included community-based performances; village festivals and pageants as well as local dance group performances.

What has the reception been like from your audiences to this non-conventional approach?

During UVI, my seminar presentations not only filled the lecture hall but I received grade A’s on both assignments! I was the project manager for a youth focused performing arts camp based on the marine environment. The participants for the camp performed a recital for 500 patrons. The recital received outstanding reviews, as evident in numerous press releases and social media appraisals. Anjolique Dance Company “Community Awareness through Dance” based performances have received standing ovations as well as members of the audience engaging the dancers curious and eager to learn more about the messages communicated.

What other non-traditional or popular media do you use to communicate your messages?

The Department of Marine Resources has engaged social media outlets as a means of keeping the public informed about the marine environment and its resources. The Anjolique Dance Company is on the verge of launching their social media campaign promoting a means of reducing the invasive species ‘Eat Lion Fish’ as well as the dance dubbed ‘Protect the Narrows’ (proposed marine managed area).  

Are there any special outreach activities targeted at youth?

My role at the Department of Marine Resources combined with the Department’s alignment with different projects such as the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) and the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) have resulted in youth focused outreach and awareness activities.

Tell us about your role in being part of the effort to establish the first MMA in SKN.

I am the Fisheries Officer responsible for Marine Protected Areas at the Department of Marine Resources.  I serve on several committees including the CATS Project Implementation Team, ECMMAN Technical Advisory Committee and Sustainable Financing Committee, as well as the on the Global Environment Fund (GEF) Project Steering Committee. Synergistically, these lend to the establishment of the Narrows Marine Management Areas.

What do you hope will be achieved once this MMA is established?

Once the MMA is established, I hope to achieve the support of the general public and a positive change in the attitudes and behaviours of the users of our federal waters, therefore resulting in a deep appreciation of this resource. Additionally, encouraging more research opportunities and scientific journal entries from local and foreign scientist.

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