Young leaders hailing from Point Fortin and environs went behind the scenes of the local industries of agriculture, food processing, and carnival thanks to a vacation camp field trip held recently. This camp is part of the Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme, Atlantic’s flagship educational initiative that focuses on nurturing young leaders and providing them with educational support. Operating against the backdrop of the company’s 20 anniversary celebrations, the camp’s theme this year, ‘The Next 20’, gave twenty-seven (27) senior students, ages 15-18, a peek into sustainable living at Wa Samaki Ecosystems in Freeport, the Rancho Quemado Cocoa Estate in Palo Seco, the family-owned K2K Carnival Band House in Diego Martin and the workshop of renowned artisan Pascal Ramkissoon in Woodbrook.
These trips are designed to engage and excite the students about their first ‘Entrepreneurship Challenge’ and give them a sense of appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into building a successful business,” said Marlon Grant, Atlantic’s Sustainability Team Lead. This challenge requires the participants, who are split into three groups, to create a business plan for an enterprise in the industry of agriculture, carnival, or manufacturing.
Camp Coordinator and Managing Director of Trainmar Limited, Leah De Souza, stressed the importance of giving students free reign to delve into the world of entrepreneurship by participating in the field trip and the challenge. She also emphasized the need to foster innovation and develop our industries with the local talent and resources available to us.
Through the field trips the aim is to expose young minds to other industries and opportunities as well as the idea of self-employment and entrepreneurship,” De Souza said.<
At Wa Samaki, one group of students toured the premises where they learned about permaculture, a land use system modeled after natural ecosystems. Afterwards, they used farm-to-table ingredients to make pizza that was cooked in clay ovens.
It was an eye-opening experience. They actually built the oven we used to make our pizza,” said Alina Joseph, student of St. Joseph’s Convent San Fernando and one of the participants who will be pursuing entrepreneurship at the CAPE level from September.
Students at the Rancho Quemado Estate enjoyed a similar experience, this time getting an educational tour of the 45-acre cocoa estate, gaining insight into how cocoa is made, and learning about aquaculture, epiculture (beekeeping), and the wildlife on the estate.
The third group of students visited K2K, the reigning Band of the Year and Medium Band of the Year champions. There, they learnt about carnival costume design, production, and marketing. Following K2K, participants visited the workshop of distinguished artisan Pascal Ramkissoon, who specializes in moulds for carnival costumes and decorations, who helped students craft unique moulds of their own.
As part of Atlantic’s Point Fortin’s Finest programme, students participate in annual vacation camps for Juniors (13-15 years) and Seniors (15-18 years) focused on developing their leadership and life skills. Established in 2000, the programme admits the top 10 students from Point Fortin and environs who have completed SEA examinations. For seven years of secondary school and three years of tertiary education, the programme provides financial support and on-the-job training through its World-of-Work internship at Atlantic. Training takes place during the July/August vacation over three years for tertiary students while senior secondary school students participate in a preparatory month-long internship where they learn professional skills including resume writing and workplace etiquette before beginning tertiary level studies. The programme also features mentorship of incoming inductees by select senior participants. 199 students have benefitted from the initiative since its inception and a new cohort of 10 students will be joining the programme in August 2019.