Thursday, March 26, 2009

Former First Lady Thanks Friends of the Monument

Agnes McPhetres and Laura Bush
Monumental moment: Friends of the Monument's Agnes McPhetres presented then-First Lady Laura Bush with Mariana Trench t-shirts on the day the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was created by then-President George W. Bush.
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands – Former First Lady Laura Bush recently wrote to the Friends of the Monument thanking them for their role in supporting the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

The letter, embossed with the official White House seal reads, “We are pleased that you joined us at the White House for the signing of the proclamation to create the Pacific Marine National Monuments. Your gifts will always remind us of your support throughout the process that led this special occasion.”

Friends of the Monument’s Agnes M. McPhetres presented then-first lady Bush with two orange Mariana Trench Monument t-shirts after the monument declaration signing in Washington, DC on January 6, 2009.

The former first lady added, “Conservation and protection of our ocean resources is vitally important to our nation and the world. I am proud of the accomplishments of my husband’s Administration to protect America’s oceans. He joins me in sending best wishes to your organization for future success in advancing marine conservation.”

The letter from the former first lady included an autographed photo of her and former President George W. Bush.
Friends of the Monument’s Angelo O. Villagomez said of the letter, “I am really proud of our people. We are showing the world how local actions can have global consequences. Even the former President of the United States and his first lady know about our work here.”

The Friends of the Monument were the main proponents for a marine monument in the Marianas. When local elected leaders were not receptive to the idea of a marine monument, the Friends started a petition drive and collected over 6000 signatures from local residents. They also gained endorsements from the business community and prominent community leaders.

The islands’ political establishment ultimately supported the monument. According to a statement issued by Governor Benigno R Fitial on the day of the designation, “I welcome President Bush's historic announcement establishing the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument…Over the past few months, I have been actively engaged in discussions with the White House Council on Environmental Quality regarding the objectives and scope of the proposed monument. I have been joined in these discussions by President Pete Reyes of the Commonwealth Senate and Speaker Arnold Palacios of the Commonwealth House of Representatives.”

When asked about what he was going to do with the letter, Friends of the Monument’s Ignacio V. Cabrera said, “I’m going to hang it on my wall at home so that I can remember all we have accomplished.”

Angelo Villagomez
Silly grin: Friends of the Monument's Angelo Villagomez and the letter from Laura Bush.
Friends of the Monument officers Agnes M. McPhetres, Ignacio V. Cabrera, and Angelo O. Villagomez were on hand to witness the historic monument declaration this past January.

The Friends of the Monument formed in the Spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

More information on the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument can be found at

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SPREP Supports Earth Hour

Vote Earth, by turning off your lights for one hour on Saturday March 28 beginning at 8.30 pm local time, wherever you live in the Pacific.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) supports Earth Hour, an initiative of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and is pleased by the commitment from those in the Pacific who are gearing up towards ‘flicking the switch’.
Over 1,750 cities, towns and municipalities in over 80 countries have committed to “Voting Earth” during Earth Hour this year. Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea have already embraced Earth Hour as an expression of global solidarity in voting for immediate action to reduce carbon emissions - the major cause of climate change. SPREP encourages all other Pacific islands to also take a stand.

“We in the Pacific face immense climate change impacts if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly reduced,” says Kosi Latu, Acting Director of SPREP. “We will also have problems in adapting to climate change and require resources and support. We know the emissions from the Pacific islands region are miniscule in global terms, but the region is nevertheless taking momentous steps towards reducing those emissions.”

A Pacific-wide renewable energy project will reduce fossil fuel emissions from Pacific islands by 33 per cent by 2015, but there are also other initiatives underway at the national levels in the Pacific islands.

Latu added that there is an urgent imperative to reduce global carbon emissions and that SPREP will continue to support the Pacific Islands in their efforts to secure a more ambitious reduction target through international negotiations. A series of international meetings are being held this year in the lead up to the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December this year.

“We call on all those in our member countries, who are in a position to do so, to join in this initiative and make a stand for the future of the planet. We hope the World will listen to our call and take our requests for a larger global carbon emission reduction target seriously,” said Latu.
For more information on how to join the Earth Hour visit

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
PO Box 240,
Apia, Samoa
T: +685 21929F: +685 20231W:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friends of the Monument to be Recognized by EPA

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands – The Friends of the Monument were informed this week that they are to be recipients of a 2009 EPA Environmental Award on April 16. The award seeks to recognize individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are making significant contributions to improve the environment. Jane Mack of the Friends of the Monument was the first person notified about the award.

"I was really excited to receive the dawn telephone call from Wendy Chavez at EPA, telling us that Friends of the Monument would be recognized as an award winner," Mack said when asked about the award. "I nominated the community organization for special recognition because the Friends worked hard and its members put their hearts and souls into the campaign for a monument. The Friends efforts directly contributed to the eventual designation of the Monument by President Bush."

The award is open to people and groups who are working all across California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and tribal lands to protect public health and the environment. This year over 200 nominations were made, but only 40 winners will be recognized.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the EPA for our work. This is an award the Friends will share with all our supporters, especially the Pew Environment Group,” said Friends Chairman Ignacio V. Cabrera about the award.

On January 6, 2009, then-President George W. Bush declared 190,000 square miles of ocean as marine monuments, closing parts of them to mining and commercial fishing, including the 95,000 square mile Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

The Friends of the Monument were the main local proponents of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. They worked to build and showcase local support to convince then-President Bush to declare a monument around the three northernmost islands in the Marianas archipelago.

“In less than a year, the Friends of the Monument grew from an idea into the most powerful grassroots movement in the Mariana Islands,” said Jay Nelson, Director of Global Ocean Legacy with the Pew Environment Group. “It was amazing to see a such an outpouring of genuine support for the marine environment.”

The Friends of the Monument waged an old-fashioned door-to-door grassroots campaign to build support for the monument.

Wesley Bogdan, a local attorney and one of the Friends of the Monument said of the monument declaration, "The creation of the monument shows that the system can work, that the people actually do have the ability to affect their government to some degree. The Friends of the Monument's hard work and receipt of this award from EPA can help spread that message and hopefully encourage more people to get involved and work on projects important to their community."

Initially local leaders were not receptive to the idea of a marine monument, so the Friends started a petition drive and with the help of 60 volunteer petitions gatherers, collected over 6000 signatures from local residents.

They also made presentations to local junior high school, high school, and college students, which resulted in over 500 handwritten support letters being sent to President Bush.

During a White House sponsored workshop, the Friends recruited over 400 supporters to attend. Most were wearing orange, as the workshop took place during the Friend’s sponsored WOW Week – Wear Orange Week.

They worked with the local business community and signed 206 businesses on to support the monument, including the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of Northern Mariana Islands, Tan Holdings, DFS, and McDonalds.

They also organized a letter writing campaign in support of the monument. Over 100 current and former community leaders sent letters to then-President Bush in support of the monument. Constitution writers Dr. Joaquin A. Tenorio and Karl T. Reyes and business leaders David M. Sablan and Manny S. Villagomez were among the prominent letter writers.

Officers of the group also traveled to Washington, DC on two occasions to meet with federal officials and national media outlets.

Mike Tripp, a local dive operator commented about the grassroots campaign, "If it were not for the Friends of the Monument, the monument designation would never have happened. The organization stands as proof that individuals coming together for a common cause can truly effect positive change in their own backyard, and also for the benefit of the planet".

The Friends of the Monument formed in the Spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

More information on the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument can be found at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Angelo Villagomez thanks supporters

Thank you

One year ago I introduced the concept of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument to the people of the Marianas with the following words:

“It is the responsibility of every indigenous person to ensure that these islands are passed down to the next generation in the same condition in which they were passed down to us. I take that promise seriously. This is how I practice my culture.” (Practicing My Culture, Saipan Tribune, March 20, 2008)

The monument as proposed to the public had several months worth of input from government and environmental leaders in the Marianas. Prior to the announcement I had set up a meeting between Secretary of Department of Lands and Natural Resources Ignacio Dela Cruz, Senior Policy Advisor Ramon Mafnas, then-Representative Cinta M. Kaipat, and Jay Nelson of Pew Environment Group (August 2007). I also arranged a presentation by Pew Environment Group to the Mariana Island Nature Alliance at one of their public meetings (November 2007) and personally briefed the three heads of the local government’s natural resource agencies, Sylvan Igisomar of Division of Fish & Wildlife, Frank Rabauliman of Division of Environmental Quality, and John Joyner of Coastal Resource Management (December 2007). The monument was also discussed in several Beautify CNMI meetings, which are open to the public and announced ahead of time. Additionally, a letter outlining the concept of a monument was also sent to Governor Fitial in December 2007.

Additionally, one week before the public announcement I helped set up meetings with other government officials, including a presentation to a joint session of the Legislature and a meeting of the Governor’s Military Task Force, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Commission, and Strategic Economic Development Council in which over 40 government, business, and community leaders attended (March 2008).

Input was taken at every meeting and led to the following proposal, which was eloquently captured in a letter to the editor by Cinta Kaipat on May 1, 2008. The proposal was to “create federally funded local jobs, give a needed boost to our struggling tourism industry, bring positive worldwide attention to our shores, and most importantly, protect three of our islands and their surrounding waters for generations to come.” (Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Saipan Tribune, May 1)

The announcement was made in a letter to the editor and was followed by a series of 115 public meetings in conference rooms, meeting halls, pala palas, bars, classrooms, restaurants, people’s homes, and offices on the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

During this process 6000 local residents exercised their First Amendment rights and petitioned President Bush to create the monument. 500 students wrote hand written letters containing their concerns and hopes for the monument. Over 400 people participated in a public meeting hosted by the White House to gather comments, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth. 206 Business owners and managers signed a petition in support of the monument and about 100 local people wrote letters and emails to the President.

Many of our local private institutions supported the designation of the monument, including the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, Tan Holdings, Mariana Islands Nature Alliance, Beautify CNMI and Marianas Dive. The Saipan Tribune also endorsed the monument in an editorial.

Finally, Governor Fitial, Senate President Reyes, and House Speaker Palacios in an eleventh hour turn around came to support the monument. The monument would not have been designated had they not come on board. This was repeated at every meeting and despite claims by Wespac officials to the contrary, ultimately proved true.

Early on there was some confusion as to the role of a private institution and government. The process to create a monument was always something that would occur between governments. Although the Pew Environment Group and Friends of the Monument would have loved to have been at the so-called negotiating table, this process was always going to take place between the duly elected leaders of the Commonwealth and the United States and their appointed representatives. The role of the private institution was to provide information and public education, with a little political pressure for good measure.

It has been nearly three months since the Marianas became home to one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, yet the process to draft a management plan has just begun.

By April 6 the Secretary of Commerce will select a five person Marine Monument Advisory Council. Three of the council members will be government officials of the Northern Mariana Islands. They will be chosen in consultation with Governor Fitial.

Following the selection of the Advisory Council, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service will begin a scoping period where the public will have more opportunity for input.

With that said, everyone who was involved in getting us to where we are right now deserves a hearty pat on the back and a well-deserved thank you. I cannot think of any other issue that has engaged and inspired so many people and brought so many people together in recent memory. People who can usually not agree on anything came together to support this project. I admit that there were some people out on the fringes, but the vast majority of our people were behind the monument on the day it was designated.

Our community should be proud of what we have accomplished. Thank you to everyone who was involved.

Angelo Villagomez
Gualo Rai

Micronesia Challenge Climate Change Workshop

The Micronesia Challenge will be having a Climate Change Workshop in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands, from 14-17 April 2009 in response to a request from the Republic of the Marshall Islands at the 10th Micronesia Chief Executive Summit held in Pohnpei in May 2008. It is a continuation of the Micronesia Challenge Action Planning Meeting, which was held in Palau in 2006. In June 2008, the Micronesia Challenge technical working group had a measures workshop to determine measures and indicators of effective conservation for the Challenge. During that workshop the technical working group realized that the Challenge needed to start addressing the issue of Climate Change and adaptation.

During the UNFCCC COP14 in Poznan, Poland and at various events and meetings with donor countries, the governments of the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, declared that the Micronesia Challenge will be the framework by which the region addresses and responds to the adverse impacts of climate change, and similarly should be a model for climate change adaptation.

The purpose of the workshop is as follows:
  1. Understand climate impacts, and possible risk reduction actions,
  2. and collaborate on proactive climate adaptation work within the Micronesia Challenge jurisdictions


  1. To present summaries of climate data
  2. To identify climate risks and vulnerabilities
  3. To identify and prioritize key national climate adaptation needs and issues
  4. To outline local/national adaptation options and projects,
  5. To formulate regional goals and secure regional collaboration in addressing climate impacts


  1. Increased understanding of the multi-sectoral risks and vulnerabilities
  2. Synthesize draft climate change adaptation strategies and policies
  3. Sustain commitment and networking among informed participants
  4. Create a solid basis for follow-up and future adaptation activities

For more information please contact the Micronesia Challenge Coordinating Office,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting Maps and Forest Inventory Assessment Data in the Hands of the Users

On 9 March Department of Resources and Development Secretary Peter M. Christian addressed 40 delegates at the opening of the “Getting Maps and Forest Inventory Assessment Data in the Hands of the Users” 5-day Training Workshop at the Central Facility in Palikir, Pohnpei.

Since 2005, this is the first Forestry Inventory Assessment (FIA)-related training to be facilitated by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) to the four FSM States of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap. The target audience for this training is Foresters, Resource managers and GIS personnel from the government and non-government sectors.

In addition to representatives from the four FSM States, partners from the Republic of Marshall Islands participated and national and regional resource agencies such as the Office of SBOC and the Secretariat of Pacific Community – Land Resource Division assisted in this FIA-related training.

“When we think of forests we associate it with high islands, we shouldn’t forget our outer islands that have similar issues as like our neighbors from the Marshalls. These forests are highly impacted by climatic change where they can contribute significantly to this training” said Secretary Christian.

The training goals are:
1. To educate and assist GIS specialists and resource personnel on the use of the Forest Service vegetation mapping, and kickoff the Statewide Assessment and Resource Strategy initiative;
2. To describe the FIA program, the data collected, and demonstrate how local resource managers can use the data in their own work.

For further information, contact Mr. Gibson Susumu, Agriculture Program Manager, FSM R&D Department. Email contact:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Link to Beautify CNMI

Would you like to help us spread the word about Beautify CNMI, an environmental coalition in the Northern Mariana Islands? Just copy and paste the following code into your blog template!

Link to Micronesia Conservation Trust

Micronesia Conservation Trust

Would you like to help us spread the word about Micronesia Conservation Trust, an organization that supports biodiversity conservation and related sustainable development for the people of Micronesia? Just copy and paste the following code into your blog template!

Link to Friends of the Monument

Good For Indigeneous CultureWould you like to help us spread the word about the Friends of the Monument, the organization that helped designate the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument? Just copy and paste the following code into your blog template!

good for business

good for the environment

good for education


Mariana Monument Banner


Thursday, March 5, 2009


Bill RaynorBill Raynor has accepted a new postion in the Nature Conservancy where he will be the new Conservation Program Director, for Asia-Pacific and N. Asia Conservation Regions. His responsibilities will include supervising current cross-cutting program teams to better support the work of TNC's current programs in China, Mongolia, Indonesia, East Timor, Australia, Melanesia and Micronesia.

He will take some of the lessons TNC has learned while working in the Micronesia Program, especially those focused on supporting and growing local partners, and apply them on a regional level.

Bill started in his new position ½ time, January 1st, and will be fully transitioned April 1st. He will continue to work out of Pohnpei. His assignment for the first 6 months will be supporting the TNC Coral Triangle Program Team, conducting a review of the TNC Melanesia Program, and formalizing the current TNC Asia-Pacific cross-cutting programs team, made up of folks located from California to Bangkok to Beijing.

Starting March 1st, Trina Leberer will be the new TNC Micronesia Program Director.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

MIC Member Profile: Mary Rose Nakayama

mary rose nakayamaMary Rose Nakayama
Program Officer
Conservation and Environmental Protection Program
Micronesia Conservation Trust

Mary Rose joined the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) staff in 2007 after serving as one of its founding Board Members since 2002. She earned her Associates degree from the Health Careers Opportunities Program at the College of Micronesia National Camp. She later earned her Bachelors in Applied Science (Coastal Management) from Southern Cross University in New South Wales, Australia. Mary Rose also holds a Diploma in Conservation Education from the University of Kent at Canterbury. She has managed family businesses, and recently traveled to London, England to present the results of her work for the RARE Program. She has worked for the College of Micronesia, Chuuk Campus as a Conservation Education Coordinator and Research Aid and assisted with developing the Chuuk Biodiversity Strategy and Action plan as part of the NBSAP process. Her consultation work has concentrated on environmental issues including work for The Nature Conservancy and for the Department of Economic Affairs in conjunction with the COP Report. She belongs to numerous community organizations and boards including founding membership to the Board of the Chuuk Conservation Society and holding the Presidency of Guide and Assist Through Awareness, and providing technical assistance and advice to the Epinup Community as they make plans to manage their community-based conservation site.

MIC Member Profile: Willy Kostka

Willy KostkaWilly Kostka
Executive Director
Micronesia Conservation Trust

Willy has served as the Executive Director of Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) since 2006. In addition to his executive duties, he also serves as the Co-coordinator of the Pacific Islands MPA Community, an initiative funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Prior to joining MCT Management he served as one of the founding members of the MCT Board of Directors, holding the offices of Chairman and Vice-Chairman. During that time, he served as the founding Executive Director of the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, building the organization from the ground in 1998 into the leading conservation NGO in the FSM at the time of his departure. He earned an AA from Santa Rosa Junior College in 1990 and has attended numerous training courses and professional enhancement programs since. Notably, he was named a fellow by the Pew Foundation for Ocean Science in 2005 and has been active in the development and promotion of the Micronesia Challenge. He is active in community organizations and Boards including the Micronesians in Conservation, President’s Council on Sustainable Development, Pohnpei Resource Management Committee, and the Xavier High School Board. His other professional experience includes work as an elementary school teacher, various positions in the state government as an accountant and administrator and work in the private sector managing family business ventures.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What is the Micronesia Challenge?

From Wikipedia:
The Micronesia Challenge is a regional inter-governmental initiative in the western Pacific region that would facilitate more effective conservation of marine and forest resources in Micronesia.

On November 5, 2005, then-President of Palau Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. called on his regional peers to join him in the Micronesia Challenge, which would effectively conserve 30 percent of near shore coastal waters and 20 percent of forest land by 2020. Joining the initiative were Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. These nations and territories represent nearly 5 percent of the marine area of the Pacific Ocean and 7 percent of its coastlines.
The purpose of Micronesians in Island Conservation is to strengthen the collaborative, organizational, technical, and policy skills of leaders and organizations so that, together with communities, they can advance the conservation and management of important natural areas in Micronesia, including working on the Micronesia Challenge.

Carnival of the Blue XXII

carnival of the blue 22Carnival of the Blue XXII is now live at Rick MacPherson's Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, & Sunsets. It has been a while since I've submitted a post for Carnival of the Blue, not like I don't post something about the ocean every single month, but I managed to get my act together this month. Enjoy!

Contribute a Post

the village pohnpeiWe want to hear from you!

If you have a story to tell and would like to contribute to the Micronesians in Island Conservation blog, whether it be for one post or as a regular contributor, please contact me, Angelo Villagomez, at angelovillagomez at gmail dot com.

A post can be about a place, a group of people, a project, or an organization. Posts can be written or they can consist of a single photo or many photos. We can write a post about your organization's website and create a badge linking back to it. We can even upload a video to Youtube and post the video on the blog. Why, we would could incorporate all these things into a single post, too.

Just let me know what you would like to do and I'll help you make it happen.

Where is Micronesia?

According to Wikipedia, Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising hundreds of small islands mostly north of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines lie to the northwest, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia to the west and south, and Polynesia to the east.

Pacific MapThe members of Micronesians in Island Conservation hail from (west to east) Palau, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae), and Marshall Islands. A delegate from Kiribati participated in the 10th MIC Retreat.

Pacific EEZ mapThis map from Greenpeace shows the Exclusive Economic Zones for each of the Micronesian governments (and other Pacific nations).  The area Micronesia covers is about the size of the Continental United States.

Contact Us

Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC) is made up of conservationists working in every jurisdiction in Micronesia, for both government and non-government entities. To reach individual members, please visit the websites of their respective agencies or organizations.

MIC is organized by a coordinator, who works in the Nature Conservancy office in Pohnpei. She and Angelo Villagomez of Saipan are the webmasters for this blog.

To contact Mae Adams, MIC Coordinator:

Federated States of Micronesia Program Office
The Nature Conservancy
Moylan's Insurance Building
Room 204
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941
Federated States of Micronesia
Tel: +691-320-4267
Fax: +691-320-7422

Mailing Address:
The Nature Conservancy
P.O. Box 216 Kolonia
Pohnpei 96941
Federated States of Micronesia

Email: madams at tnc dot org

To contact Angelo Villagomez, Beautify CNMI Executive Director:

Beautify CNMI
PMB 360 BOX 10001
Saipan, MP 96950

Tel: 670 285-6462

Email: angelovillagomez at gmail dot com

Micronesia Challenge on Facebook

micronesia challenge on facebook
Are you a member of Facebook? Would you like to be the envy of all your friends? There is now a Facebook Fan Page and a Facebook Group for the Micronesia Challenge. Join today!

Both the Fan Page and the Group allow users to post comments on a discussion board, upload photos and video, suggest links, and leave comments. The Fan Page allows the administrator to write notes or, as I prefer to do, syndicate a blog feed. I am syndicating the Micronesians in Island Conservation blog until there is a Micronesia Challenge blog. The thing I like best about both is that the administrator has the ability to send messages to every member of both the Group and the Fan Page. This will come in handy, especially once the membership gets into the thousands.

Additionally, the Fan Page links to Fan Pages for the Micronesian governments that have signed onto the Micronesia Challenge: Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. It also links to a Fan Page for Beautify CNMI, an environmental coalition in the Marianas supportive of the Micronesia Challenge. I will link to other non-profits working on the Micronesia Challenge once someone sets up their Fan Pages. (Pehaps we can do this at the next MIC retreat or maybe the next steering committee meeting?)

So what are you waiting for? Log into Facebook and join the Facebook Fan Page and the Facebook Group for the Micronesia Challenge.

Monday, March 2, 2009

TNC Annual Staff Retreat

The Naure Conservacny had its Annual retreat in Pohnpei, from 16-20 February. The objective of the retreat was:
  1. Review progress on the Micronesia Action Plan FY08-10, share experiences in the field and learn from each other
  2. Review of new organizational structure of the Micronesia Program
  3. Review Progress on the Micronesia Challenge and our supporting role
  4. Learn how to be better supervisors and learn what our supervisors should be doing better!
  5. Review our Team Charter and make sure we’re “living it” in our daily interactions
  6. Begin planning for FY10 goals and budgets and explore using “Miradi” to streamline this process
  7. Learn about conservation issues on Pohnpei and interact with key partners there
  8. Reinforce our mutual commitment to our vision for Micronesia conservation “The people of Micronesia taking local action and inspiring leadership to sustain their natural heritage in a rapidly changing world” and to partnerships, teamwork and our team values.
  9. Rejuvenate and motivate our team

During the retreat, the Micronesia Program staff visited the Ngahtik Marine Protected Area with the Conservation Society of Pohnpei. The Micronesia Program saw what 15 years of hard work in Pohnpei has final lead to... Local communities, effectively managing and conserving their natural resources. The trip to Ngahtik was inspiring and gave the team a rejuvinated sense of purpose.

Although the retreat was a success, there was a dark cloud that hung around. Due to the world economic crisis we found out during our retreat that we would be loosing 2 key staff. Dr. Sean Austin, our Conservation Coordinator will be leaving the Conservancy in the end of May; and Dr. Eric Verheij, our Protected Areas Network Advisor, will be leaving in December. Despite the sad news, we were able to accomplish our objectives for the retreat with an optimistic and upbeat attitude.

Micronesia Challenge Logo

Micronesia Challenge LogoThe Micronesia Challenge logo was developed by Luke, an artist in Yap, and incorporates the creativity, compassion and, perhaps most importantly, the true culture of Micronesia. While the basic design is of a turtle with an "M" as the front fins and a "C" as the body, the logo also incorporates the overall aspects of air, sea and land and has come to mean different things to different people with some saying they see an island, some a bird in flight and still others seeing waves. "Micronesia" is in blue to match the "M" in the logo and "Challenge" is in green to match the "C." This logo is now the official logo of the Micronesia Challenge.