Warm and Fuzzy

I’m not referring to an off-fruit, but to the phrase coined by Chloe in honour of that feeling of immense pride and satisfaction of working hard and achieving something really special.

I’ve had the feeling before, opening people’s eyes through environmental education; hearing that those I’ve taught decide to change their attitudes to make a difference but I have never had feelings warmer or fuzzier than the last few days – and I haven’t even been teaching! It’s been the work of our current ZEPs and my small part in it.

Matt a.k.a. Workshop Master
Matt clearly enjoying himself and doing a great job tackling a sensitive issue in El Nido – Fish Feeding.

Matt is over halfway through a three day workshop extravaganza to reinforce the concept of a sustainable ecotourism snorkel industry in El Nido. He’s already done four presentations to groups ranging from 11 to 75 people and despite his mild self-doubts and nervous laughs, he is ROCKING it. His audience has been made up of snorkel tour guides, boat captains, boat crew and tour operators. He’s charmed them into learning about the importance of marine conservation. He’s devised a game to teach them about coral threats. And we’ve all been part of break out sessions, getting these stakeholders to consider the threats their industry might pose to reefs, and formulate solutions themselves. And their answers are perfection (see previous blog post re: Paradise). Warm and fuzzy. Warm and fuzzy. Being part of this team makes me feel like we’ve really made a difference in this small community.

Jess and Levi from the Local Government lead a discussion on snorkel industry threats and solutions with boat captains and crew
Joe and ENF staff member Maricel run through environmental briefing content with snorkel tour guides

This feeling of success would be impossible without our collaboration with the incredible El Nido Foundation (ENF) – a highly successful and respected local NGO. Their compliments and pride to be part of this workshop has really added to the skip in my conservation heart beat. I’m immensely proud to be working alongside and learning from them, and I’m sure my sentiments are mirrored by the ZEPs.

Yours truly and Dong from ENF using the Green Fins ICONS and working with stakeholders to come up with solutions that they can start doing right away!

Working with the El Nido Foundation has been rewarding for all of us, and a particular example happened yesterday. Jess and Joe have overlapping personal projects – researching and writing an extensive report giving recommendations for the governance of this snorkel industry. The Municipal Tourism Officer is already anxious to receive these recommendations, and the report will go as high as a national government department! So obviously, it’s got to be the bee’s knees. Jess and Joe have done loads of groundwork, consultations and data collection, and sat down with the MTO and senior members of ENF to discuss their plans. Cue more warm and fuzziness. I watched as Jess and Joe clearly and professionally outlined their plan, discussed and analysed solutions, and kept up to speed with real professionals. They might not see this as warm-and-fuzzy worthy, and I’m sure I’ll get stick for writing this and being over-sentimental, but I see a big change from when I first met them a month ago.

So Matt, Jess and Joe: stick you, yo mama too and yo daaaddy. Well done. I’m proud to be a part of the work you are doing, and I hope you are too.

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