Twenty-two Caribbean Birding Trail Guides were certified on Bonaire in September 2016 at the end of an intense week long training workshop. Participants came from Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten and St. Eustatius learned bird identification skills, nature interpretation and guiding techniques. The workshop was opened by Bonaire’s Governor Edison Rijna, who reminded participants of the importance of sharing what they’ve learned with the communities on their island in order to promote more appreciation and better care for our unique island ecosystems.
The Caribbean Birding Trail is not so much about a physical trail but rather a network of places throughout the Caribbean region where there are local guides who are highly trained and knowledgeable about local bird species and their connection to the environment, and who can effectively communicate this information to a variety of audiences in a significant and enjoyable way.
The Caribbean Birding Trail (CBT) programme is an initiative of BirdsCaribbean whose Executive Director, Lisa Sorenson and Project Manager, Holly Robertson, ran the workshop with Rick Morales and Beny Wilson, Certified Interpretive Trainers from Panama. Echo Foundation’s General Manager, Lauren Schmaltz, served as the local workshop organizer and also participated along with Executive Director, Sam Williams, as two of the course’s guest speakers.
The course consisted of classroom work and field activities which started daily at 7:30am. Despite the threat posed by Hurricane Matthew, most participants were able to complete the full five days of training and turned in final presentations demonstrating the skills and information they had learned in order to receive their certificate of completion. The workshop was a resounding success with many of the participants telling organisers that this was one of the most comprehensive, informative and rewarding training experiences that they had received.