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Bahamian women leading charge on environmental efforts

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A senior Forest Officer, part-time mermaid and writer are leading the charge on environmental protection, education, and advancement in The Bahamas.

Of their respective terrestrial and marine fields, Ingeria Miller, Jonisha Cartwright and Kristal Ambrose are contributing leaders and changemakers to a more sustainable future for not only the country, however the world.

CIBC FirstCaribbean prolonged their celebration of this yr’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, by recognizing the work of the trio on Earth Day.

Ingeria Miller

Ingeria Miller is a Senior Forest Officer with responsibilities spanning fieldwork and administrative duties. Her introduction to the environmental sector began over 13 years ago when she participated in a United States-funded research project focused on endangered birds on Eleuthera upon advice by her then professor, Mrs. Joyanne Thompson.

“Seven million snakes, mosquitoes and sand flies later, it was essentially the most rewarding experience of my life. The project grew me up. I learned to like and appreciate nature and the outside became a living classroom for me,” said Ingeria.

Following a switch from pre-med to a significant in Natural Resources, Ecology and Policy Evaluation from Cornell University, and later completing a Master’s in Public Administration in Environmental Science from Columbia University, Ingeria has given her expertise to The Bahamas while on the now Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) and the Forestry Unit. Her most up-to-date environmental leadership role was during Forestry Awareness Week. She began the initiative in 2015 in addition to introduced the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource’s only environmental summer camp.

Jonisha Cartwrights

Jonisha Cartwright, a part-time mermaid, took a twist on her environmental studies by connecting it to sociology, and is now a recent graduate equipped with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with Sustainability from Arizona State University.

Her journey in environmental work began in 2014 as a volunteer and later as an intern on the Bahamas Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (BREEF), a non-profit conservation organization focused on youth education, advocacy and public outreach.

As an environmental educator on the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), Jonisha said, “It gives me hope and joy to see kids excited in regards to the environmental field or to see fishermen not only adhering to fisheries laws but being stellar environmental stewards and advocating for his or her peers to stick as well.”

Jonisha joined the BNT in March 2020, three days before the country went into its first emergency lockdown as a consequence of COVID-19. Since her start, Jonisha has spearheaded the creation of the animated series, Adventures of Xuma, and plays a crucial role in Ecosystems of The Bahamas with the BNT, a live-action, video series aimed toward highschool students and adults. 

Geared toward children of assorted ages, Kristal Ambrose, who recently moved to Sweden to start her PhD studies focused on Marine Debris Threats and Solutions for the Caribbean region, released a children’s book titled Kai and Gaia Discover the Gyre, with illustrations by Bahamian artist Stevie Burrows.

Kristal Ambrose

Prior to this milestone, Kristal founded Bahamas Plastic Movement and has engaged youth through many programs as a way to encourage and empower them. She designed an upcycle program to motivate them to provide you with original ideas about tips on how to repurpose plastic waste and a Junior Plastic Warriors environmental education program which incorporates music, dance and art was later created.

Kristal’s reference to the ocean began at a young age when her father convinced her to hitch him on his each day swims. Being within the ocean made her feel more connected and inspired her mission―to avoid wasting the ocean from plastic pollution. 

She envisions a sustainable future as “a transition towards a circular economy complete with social and environmental justice, equity and access for all communities, especially those of color.

“It also looks like a divine and intentional reconnection between humanity and the earth systems that support us,” Kristal added.

Ingeria, Jonisha, and Kristal have each taken on environmental leadership in alternative ways in various spaces. Essentially the most common trait between the trio is their passion and commitment to not only the environment but their country. CIBC FirstCaribbean highlighted the trio earlier this yr in celebration of International Women’s Day because the bank continues to support women making waves within the environmental sector.

Recent CIBC FirstCaribbean donations have also directly benefited the organizations and causes the ladies are a component of. The bank partnered with the Forestry Unit to plant trees on the Bahamas Girl Guides campsite and, in light of the national plastic ban, partnered with Fresh Market to supply a whole lot of free reusable grocery bags to customers. CIBC FirstCaribbean also recently donated to the Bahamas National Trust and BREEF. 

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