We were pleased to host our second school visit of the month to our Horse Park, Marina and to a pizza lunch. The learning experience was hosted by Pam Johnson, who created and leads the horse rescue and education program at Oil Nut Bay, and Beth Besom, lead horse trainer and helper at the stables. These two women are passionate about horses and educating the youth in our BVI community with fun, immersive experiences at Oil Nut Bay.
The group comprised of sixteen 4th grade students from the Robinson O’Neal School of the North Sound, Virgin Gorda. Learning from the guidance and expertise of Pam Johnson, wife of our developer David V. Johnson, and Beth Besom, the students were able to meet our horses and explore the property looking for wildlife they have learned about in their lessons. With the goal of instilling respect for our landscape and the creatures that live here, the students had a fun visit and got to meet Mr. David V. Johnson as they had their lunch.
Their visit was similar to that of the Valley Day School – the students began with a short walk from our Marina, where they learned how important the mangroves are to the island ecology. Ms. Beth told of how a mangrove forest can clean 5x more air than a regular wooded forest, and how the trees are special in filtering salt and keeping sediment out of the water.
At our Marina in Deep Bay, they observed mangroves and algae, turtles and many kinds of fish swimming, a kingbird looking on curiously, several conch, coral reef, two young lobster (spotted from above by their antennae poking out from the rocks). Finally, a student spotted a large birds nest, marking off another item from their fun scavenger hunt! It was large enough to have likely housed a pelican family.
The most exciting part of the trip for the students is meeting the horses. To a kid, these creatures and big and majestic. For us, it’s the perfect opportunity to teach to them not to fear these gentle animals! The kids are taught about how to safely approach a horse without spooking them, then invited to learn how to clean their hooves, brush their hair and braid their mane. By the end, they are confident about being around them.
The Stables are also home to many kittens and cats. Ms. Beth taught that because these felines sleep on the horse’s saddles, they become a part of the horses group, and they also learn to catch any field pests to become keepers of the barn.
The last stop before leaving the Horse Park was walking the path down to the waters edge, through the mangrove. This area meets the water where coral grows out for several dozen meters, in shallow water. Here the students found whelk (snails), conch shells, and hermit crabs.
So much learning works up an appetite. After a short visit with our red-footed tortoises, the students sat down to a pizza lunch. There, Mr. Johnson happily greeted the students, engaging them in his rousing “yee-haw” to culminate their visit. The Robinson O’Neill students may have been even more enthusiastic than Valley Day, expressing their gratitude and happiness at once.
Mr. Johnson again spoke of being responsible to the land and to the sea, something we should be in our daily lives.
We’re excited to provide more educational expertise such as this to future superstars like these kids, so they can continue to come back to visit and learn. As Mr. Johnson put it when he spoke to the students, “We are really God’s caretakers for a period of time, because this is going to be around for a lot longer than we are.” He left the kids with this lesson; “Every day, leave the world better than you saw it the day before.”
We look forward to hosting Robinson O’Neal School next week and many more in the months to come! We are proud of our beautiful slice of paradise and want to share this with our greater BVI community.