Trailblazer Ramona speaks to GITH Magazine about her work on Gozo and beyond to actively encourage children to work towards a sustainable future.
Ramona Mercieca Is one busy lady. She teaches Geography at Gozo College, Middle School and for the last eleven years has volunteered as the Eco-Schools link teacher.
Eco-schools: engaging the youth of today to protect the planet of tomorrow.
Eco-Schools is the largest global sustainable schools programme, starting in the classroom and expanding to the community by engaging the next generation in action-based learning. There are currently 59,000 participating schools over 68 countries and each school follows a seven-step change process that empowers their young people to lead processes and actions wherever they can. As the dedicated Eco-Schools teacher, Ramona coordinates the running of the programme as a whole school approach and links the various sustainability themes the school is working on with a number of subjects across the curriculum, especially STEM subjects.
GLOBE Program malta
Ramona is also the deputy coordinator for GLOBE Program Malta, an international program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process whilst contributing meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment. Ramona encourages and supports Heads of Schools and Science teachers in Gozo and Malta to do the same.
ACT OF BLUE: UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF MARINE LITTER, IT’S EFFECTS ON MARINE ECOSYSTEMS AND WAYS TO STOP IT.
In 2019 as part of the Eco-Schools / LLC project Act of Blue, students attending Gozo College Middle School investigated the impact of marine litter on ecosystems. They cast the net wide and collaborated with a European schools platform called eTwinning to communicate, collaborate, develop projects, it was a really exciting learning community for students from Gozo, Turkey, Italy and Spain.
Students were asked to measure various weather elements. They observed and reported cloud cover and recorded seawater conditions (sea temperature, pH and water clarity). Using a digital microscope they sampled sand for microplastics, carried out a litter survey and did a beach clean-up. The data collected instigated the students to start their own investigation as it concluded that plastic litter does have an effect on both seawater temperature and seawater pH level. To read more please visit Act of Blue Findings.
This study contributed significantly to the importance of disposing of plastic in the correct way and reducing single-use. In coastal areas, the number of bins needs to be increased and posters that create awareness about the dangers of plastic is imposing on marine ecosystems should be plenty as they educate the general public on how to reduce plastic use. The students took the initiative a step further as they wanted to set an example and be part of the change, and did the following:
- Interviewed Paul Buttigieg, the mayor of Qala and proposed the idea of making Hondoq Bay a plastic-free beach.
- Shared their findings on Social Media and news portals, and through an interview during a breakfast show on a national TV channel.
- Adopted a loggerhead turtle (their partners in Turkey adopted sea animals as well).
The funds from the LLC were used to buy bamboo cutlery and bamboo toothbrushes which were given out to students and visitors at an eco-focused Open Day at Gozo College Middle School. Ramona and her colleagues have plans to expand this to stainless steel straws and mesh bags as alternatives to single-use plastic next time around.
TURTLE NEST at Ramla bay, gozo
Ramona also volunteers with Nature Trust FEE Malta and along with a group of wonderfully dedicated people, she is helping to monitor and protect a turtle nest at Ramla Bay. This is first time in seventy years that a turtle nest has been registered and confirmed in Gozo. Great care has been devoted over the past 6 weeks to do everything possible to ensure the survival of this precious nest. The conditions are closely monitored including the temperature of the sand to provide vital information such as the sex of the eggs and due date, which is any day now – watch this space!
Nature Trust is one of the oldest and largest environmental NGOs in Malta. They’ve worked and lobbied hard for the legal protection of various plants and animals in the Maltese Islands, helping to save some of the local endemic species from extinction. Today the Trust is very active in environmental education, as it strongly believes education is the best tool to create awareness on nature conservation. The organisation is also carrying out many environmental projects in Malta such as afforestation, habitat conservation and the creation of marine protected areas.
JENNA THE SEA TURTLE
In other turtle news, on 26th June 2020 Jenna the sea turtle who was found trapped in a fishnet in Marsalforn, was released at Ħondoq ir-Rummien Bay having spent several months receiving treatment for his injuries. GITH Magazine along with many eco-warriors and spectators witnessed Jenna’s big day. You can catch our footage on IGTV.
Ramona Mercieca is a wonder and with all her work, her volunteering and her involvement in such vital programmes is testament that every small action truly helps and together we can achieve so much more.
If you would like to know more about the aforementioned organisations working hard to preserve and protect the stunning environment of the Maltese Archipelago and the wonderful initiatives Ramona is working with, please visit;