Melekeok, Palau – Ten youth from Ngerkesoaol spent last Friday at Micronesia’s largest and most biologically diverse freshwater lake, Palau’s very own Lake – Ngardok Nature Reserve in Melekeok, Palau.

Led by Melekeok state rangers and staff, youth toured the Protected Area for over an hour, a hike which included swamp and lowland forests, savanna, and marshes. The young people participated in bird monitoring and learned about the various reptiles and plants that call the reserve home.

Despite the afternoon heat, youth served the community by planting a total of 50 trees. This reforestation initiative, being facilitated by the Reserve, will protect the Ngardok watershed which provides water to the villages of Melekeok and Ngchesar States, as well as the national capital in Ngerulmud.

The day trip was the culminating project of Iyool Basilio, an intern at Palau Conservation Society. Basilio was instrumental in recruiting youth from her hamlet to participate in the hike and tree planting activities. For most youth, it was their first time to the Reserve.

The internship was made possible by the Micronesia Challenge Young Champions Internship Program. The Micronesia Challenge is a shared commitment by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands to protect 30% of near shore marine resources and 20% of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020. The internship program is designed to build the next generation of conservation leaders in Micronesia.

Palau Conservation Society and Lake Ngardok Nature Reserve would like to thank the partners that made the event possible including: Biib Bus, Public Health at the Ministry of Health, and Calvo’s Select Care Health Plans. (PR)