On the evening of October 11th Nathaniel Miller, Assistant Director of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) received a phone call from Sean Willmore, the President of the International Ranger Federation, notifying him that DCNA’s nominee for the Dr. Jane Goodall — ‘Hope and Inspiration Ranger Award’, had won.
Luigi Eybrecht, a newly appointed Marine Park Ranger for STINAPA Bonaire (National Parks Foundation) and volunteer Commander of their Junior Rangers, was selected by the world renowned primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Dame Jane Goodall herself.
Luigi has been invited to attend the World Parks Congress in Sydney Australia this November where he will receive his award in front of 4,000 international conservation delegates on November 15th.
Willmore, who is also the founder of the Thin Green Line Foundation, had tried to reach Luigi by phone first, but Luigi was, quite fittingly, underwater culling invasive lion fish in the Bonaire National Marine Park. In his award letter, Willmore wrote, ”It was your (Luigi’s) determination, positive approach and energy that shone through. It was a very strong field, but in the end we saw that you embody everything this award stands for and as such we could not think of a more deserving winner.”
Luigi was selected winning candidate out many rangers nominated worldwide.
In 2009, at 16 years of age, Luigi and two classmates joined the Junior Rangers program, a nature and environmental leadership program for teenagers. Thanks in large part to Luigi’s relentless energy and enthusiasm, the Junior Ranger program today has five levels complete with a wide range of nature education and conservation activities. Luigi and the STINAPA Junior Rangers have changed the face of conservation on Bonaire. These local youths and young adults are taking ownership of their natural resources and engaging the community in discussion about the future of their protected areas and their island’s valuable biodiversity.
As a STINAPA Ranger, Luigi is now paid to do what he loves, but that is certainly not why he does it. In addition to helping control the spread of invasive lion fish in his free time, Luigi assists in monitoring nesting seabirds, endangered sea turtles, over-harvested conch and rare tree species. He helps lead REEF.org fish monitoring groups and has recently joined Coral Reef Restoration Foundation to grow and replant Acropora coral species in the shallow waters of Bonaire.
Nesting sea bird monitoringNesting sea bird monitoring
Luigi is a true ambassador for conservation who loves to share with others his deep appreciation for the parks and nature of Bonaire. Miller wrote the following as part of Luigi’s winning nomination:
“I have known Luigi for the past four years and had a firsthand view of how he has changed the rules of the game for nature conservation on Bonaire. Luigi’s work with the STINAPA Junior Rangers is spilling over to other islands in the region and within the next few years this engaging approach could become one of the greatest achievements for conservation in the Caribbean.
I have not met a young person as dedicated to helping develop healthy environments for healthy people, as Luigi. Awarding Luigi Eybrecht with the Dr. Jane Goodall Hope and Inspiration Award will be a great recognition for Luigi, STINAPA Bonaire and its Park Rangers, the citizens of Bonaire and for conservation efforts across the Caribbean region.”
For more information on Luigi’s work with STINAPA Bonaire visit: www.stinapa.org/Hope.html
hunting for lion fishhunting for lion fish
Luigi Eybrecht – Bonaire National Marine Park rangerLuigi Eybrecht – Bonaire National Marine Park ranger