Micronesia Challenge Success Stories
When One Island
Becomes Two:
Ben's Story
The Magic of
Marine Mania

The Magic of Marine Mania

Transforming a barren school courtyard into a green and lush tropical space does not happen overnight. It is an exercise in patience and persistence. Just ask Guam’s George Washington High School teacher Linda Tatreau and her dedicated group of students known as Marine Mania.

“It probably took six or seven years because there was a lot of destruction when we first started,” says Tatreau. “Not every student in the school understands respect and they would rip up the plants and throw them in the toilet or off the balcony. We always said we’d never let it sit…we take care of it immediately. Eventually they got used to it.”

Indeed, despite the occasional student with a destructive inclination or the occasional typhoon that blows through, the school courtyard is thriving and maintained on a weekly basis.

Since moving with her family to Guam in 1990, Tatreau has been teaching marine biology to high school students at George Washington high school. She fell in love with Guam immediately and loved to share her adventures with her students.  However, she also quickly discovered that her students were not that familiar with their own home, so in 1992 she started a club called “Explore Guam.”

By 1994, the club had evolved into Marine Mania with about 20-30 core students participating yearly and additional support from her marine biology students. One of their first activities was to transform the school yard, though they participate in dozens of activities annually.

As their name indicates, Marine Mania focuses on the ocean, but they recognize that what happens on land affects the oceans and vice versa.  Already they have stenciled messages on more than 800 storm drains warning residents not to dump harmful wastes down drains that lead to the oceans, planted over 15,000 acacia seedlings to help reforest razed sections of the island, and established a successful recycling program. They also participated in bi-weekly hikes for turtle nest site monitoring and perform regular street clean-ups. With a true “can do” attitude, they manage to overcome lack of funding through creative fundraising activities such as an annual tree plant-a-thon and an after school snack bar.

In addition to all of this, Tatreau’s students run two extremely successful inter-school programs: FishBowl -- an academic challenge for high school students whose grand prize winner gets to name a geological feature on the sea floor near Guam, and Guardians of the Reef – an extremely popular peer education and leadership program where the Maniacs go into third grade classrooms and spend an hour teaching young students about the reefs and why they’re so important.

With so many activities in addition to her regular job, one wonders when Tatreau finds time to sleep? 

“Fortunately, as you get older, you don't need as much sleep,” she replies.

Through activities like these and through people like Tatreau and Marine Mania, the long term goals of the Micronesia Challenge can be achieved. By working with students, various projects in schools and communities educate and spread awareness in ways that have immediately tangible results, and everyone benefits from the experience.

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Charlene Mersai, Regional Coordinator
Post Office Box 4040, Koror, Palau 96940.
p. +680.488.8008, f. +680.488.8003,
e. info@micronesiachallenge.org
Supporters of the Micronesia Challenge include German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; the Government of Turkey; the Global Environment Facility; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Micronesia Conservation Trust; U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. Department of Commerce-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; United Nations Environment Programme; United Nations Development Programme; The Nature Conservancy; Conservation International; RARE; and Anonymous Private Donors.
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