In August 2017, I visited Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, USVI for a Harvard University research trip and fell in love with the people and the place. I was devastated one month later when two Category 5 hurricanes hit the Caribbean. Following the storms, Gifft Hill School, the only preschool through twelfth grade school on the 45 square mile island, had a teacher shortage, a need for curriculum and infrastructure, and counseling for at least 47% of students that were experiencing PTSD from climate trauma. Within the year my family and I moved to St. John and I am on a team that is rebuilding sustainable infrastructure and STEM curriculum for Caribbean students.
Additionally, I have partnered with several agencies (i.e. NPS, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, Island Green Living, University of Virgin Islands, Harvard University, Iowa State University, and the Clinton Foundation) to create a STEM network and pathways for our students. Gifft Hill students participate in green STEM training, citizen science projects, climate monitoring, endangered sea turtle monitoring, agriculture, renewable energy job training, and coral reef advocacy. We are a National Wildlife Federation Eco-school and are pursuing our U.S. Green Building Council green school certificate. Over 85% of our students receive full scholarships and will be first generation college students.