Dream Team of Volunteers Shares Local Heritage at Endemic Animal Festival

A fantastic team of 45 volunteers hosted the festival.

A great team of 45 volunteers came together on Sunday to host the Endemic Animal Festival. The event is a showcase for the animals that live only on St. Martin. This year, the festival used the theme Survivors to celebrate many different aspects of local heritage and culture.

“In six years of hosting this event, this was our most amazing team of volunteers yet,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “People of all ages and backgrounds worked together to share the things that make this island so special. Thanks to this team, we were able to offer more fun activities and interact more with the kids and families that came out to the festival.”

Guests get up close with animals that live only on St. Martin.

The Endemic Animal Discovery Station has been a feature of the event since the beginning. Guests learn about the critters that live here and nowhere else, and why St. Martin’s nature is so special and unique. Art and craft activities are also a mainstay of the event. This year, guests enjoyed painting bird feeders made from upcycled plastic bottles.

Plastic water bottles were transformed into colorful bird feeders.
BirdSleuth Caribbean activities combined fun and learning.

Many exhibits and activities used the Suvivors theme to share other parts of local heritage. At the Story Survival station, guests recorded oral histories about life on St. Martin. A special exhibit of poems, from the recent Lasana M. Sekou book Hurricane Protocol, explored trauma, loss and survival. At the Plantilles Station, guests received seedlings of native trees that can boost survival of native animals. They also took home plants used in bush medicine, which is the island’s oldest healing tradition.

Guests took home native trees and other plants.

“The festival weaves local nature and culture together in new ways each year,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “This island is beautiful and fascinating. It is a joy to share that wonder with young St. Martiners. It’s also a chance for us to learn new things from the guests who come. Listening, recording and sharing are all part of the magic.”

The Hurricane Protocol exhibit gave guests a new way to read and hear the poems of Lasana M. Sekou.

The Endemic Animal Festival was created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. This year’s event was held at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. The Hurricane Protocol and 5,000 Years of Eco exhibits are still on display during museum hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to noon. The 2019 festival was made possible by the support of Gold Sponsor Delta Petroleum and sponsors 97150, BirdsCaribbean, Buzz, IZI Light, L’Auberge Gourmande, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, L’Esperance Hotel, St. Martin’s Sweetness and Tri-Sport.

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