Ulithi Youth Action Project

The Ulithi Youth Action Project was created in response to community’s view that  an education focus  on sustainable ocean management  should include their youth.  In partnership  with Bluecology,  the Youth Action Project was developed in 2015 and the first youth team arrived shortly after Typhoon Maysak hit Ulithi Atoll.

Each summer we bring a dynamic team of students, educators, and adventurers with us to Ulithi. We work together to assist community leaders, local students and the One People One Reef team with the development of an action plan for youth leadership.

Learn more about how you can join us in June 2020 at Bluecology’s website, and check out our Previous Participant’s Bios

Marine Science

Students learn about reef surveys and sampling methods while collecting data for One People One Reef. They also attend lectures on coral reef ecology, and learn through discussions about what they have seen on the reef.

Activities in 2017 and 2018:

  • Mapping the percent cover and the spread of a “weedy” species of coral, Montipora sp. that overgrows other corals. The objective is to track Montipora’s spread over time.
  • Surveying sea cucumber densities on three islands to gather baseline data of a species that serves as indicators of reef health.
  • Sampling sea cucumbers and fish from fishermen’s catches for use in the science team’s genetic connectivity and isotope studies, that will help inform management planning.
  • Visits to reefs on both inhabited and uninhabited islands to illustrate the impact of human activities on coral cover, coral diversity and fish abundance.
  • Monitoring of nesting sea turtles

Global Issues, Local Impacts

Students learn how global issues such as climate change and plastic pollution are impacting Ulithi, learn how the One People One Reef Program is helping the community adapt, and consider what contributions they might make to help.

Activities in 2017 and 2018:

  • Marine Debris project: 2018 participant Fuller Gerbl is spearheading this effort, see his poster for more details
  • Conducting NOAA Marine Debris Shoreline Surveys on all four inhabited islands, plus Geilob – an important sea turtle nesting site
  • Training local teachers in the survey protocol so they can conduct surveys with their classes
  • Brainstorming solutions for dealing with plastic trash on the islands
  • Learning about the impacts of the 2015 Typhoon Maysak on Ulithi

Community Service & Traditional Cultural Practices

Students learn about the contribution of traditional ecological knowledge to coral reef and fisheries management. They also learn about Ulithian culture, a community that relies on people helping one another. Students aren’t just observers, they participate in community service activities during the youth project.

Activities in 2017 and 2018:

  • Collecting traditional stories from Ulithian elders for the National Geographic funded Storytelling Project.
  • Working on a taro patch on Falalop
  • Weeding/beautifying Asor island in preparation for the opening of its new church
  • Cleaning up trash in Falalop village
  • Learning to make cocount oil, weave plates from palm leaves

Developing Future Leaders

The Youth Action Project is a powerful method for developing future leaders. For example, Mylow Tasopolu and Rancy Taigumal, who participated in our first Youth Action Program, are now invaluable youth leaders and local scientists. Other Ulithian students from the youth project have been inspired to plan on studying marine biology so they can return knowledge to their community. A number of the students from California are pursuing further studies in marine biology and environmental science, and are finding ways to contribute to One People One Reef going forward.