The eight weeks of the first ever Ridge to Reef expedition flew by. It’s only now that it’s over we can begin to reflect on what the experience has meant, and how the vast amount of memories, skills, and relationships we’ve cultivated over the last two months have impacted us.
The video below shares footage from our favorite expedition moments, from cliff jumping to mud fights, and touches on the major themes this amazing experience has embedded in all of us—lessons about being in the moment, embracing the unexpected, and taking your work, but never yourself, too seriously.
Watch it for a peek into what exactly it means to be on expedition in Toledo, discovering the beauty of Belize’s ridges and reefs.
“We’ve done so many different kinds of field work—amphibian monitoring, bird monitoring. I’m liking everything I’m being exposed to.”Danielle Terry
“It’s been really nice to actually go down diving and actually know exactly what I’m seeing, know their names, and see how they’re interacting.”Matt Pepperdine
“I’ve extended my stay for two more weeks because I think there’s a lot to be learned about the country, about the culture. I think it will be really beneficial to my education, my personal outlook on life to have an extra two weeks in this beautiful country.Emma Ashton
Top Lessons We Learned from Ridge to Reef
Work hard, play hard
One of the largest lessons of our eight-week stay in Belize is the infectious way the Belizeans we worked with approach their lives. They work hard and are resourceful, making do with what they have available. But all the work is infused with a vibrant spirit. People tease, laugh, and play here. When a mud-fight broke out in the middle of constructing a pond for the baby Hicatee turtles, the Rangers didn’t get mad, they joined in. The Belizean culture is one which is playful and lively. People work hard here, but they also appreciate that laughter is a key ingredient to anything work doing, and they spice it up accordingly.
Community involvement is key
TIDE’s commitment to the Toledo community has been clear since we arrived in Punta Gorda two months ago. They don’t just serve the community, they bring the community into their fold, training local people each year to be Community Researchers, and employing them to help out with the vast amount of projects TIDE undertakes. This allows TIDE to extend its impact, and helps spread the importance of the work they’re doing throughout the larger Toledo area.
One of the biggest perks of being here has been the opportunity to live on Ranger Stations, working, eating, and playing alongside the Rangers and Community Researchers. We’ve developed relationships and learned about local perspectives in a way that is rarely possible when traveling, or even on other expeditions. We will all be bringing parts of Belize back to our homes with us. We’ll also be bringing the knowledge of one way an NGO is working closely with a community for the good of everyone, people and ecosystems alike.
Finally, we learned that conservation takes time, patience and perseverance. Our expedition was the closest look at true conservation work that many of us have ever been exposed to. We have seen that sometimes it can take much longer than 8 weeks to see the impact your hard work is having, but it’s been so humbling to learn how our efforts now will help the species, ecosystems and people here in the future.