Everyone was in a celebratory mood yesterday as TeamSeagrass held its FIRST EVER Get-Together/Orientation session!
The day started early afternoon with volunteers coming to NParks Biodiversity Centre to do some preparations for the event. Some came to doll up the otherwise boring multi-function hall into a seagrass themed room.
Others (mostly the guys) were busy with checking our equipments and doing a stock check on what we have. Not surprisingly, we've got some spoilt quadrats, measuring tapes, etc. but what most amused us was this compass that well, didn't quite tell directions. Here you see Ria staring at the big gaping hole where the arrow used to be.
The door gifts for this event were also wonderful and could very well serve as a "starter kit" for our new volunteers. They include stickers, posters, bookmarks, information sheets about all things seagrass and marine life on our shores.
At around 3pm, more volunteers and new timers had arrived and everyone is already getting to know each other. There were many new faces and they came from all walks of life. It was heartening to think that all these people would be united in the name of seagrass! Regular volunteers also took the opportunity to catch up with each other from their busy schedules.
Shortly after the arrival of our pink diva Siti, the event started with a series of interesting presentation by some of our regular volunteers. First up was Marcus who had been all around our shores with his trusty camera and taking photos that show us another side of our little island. He posts his pictures and stories on his blog: Budak Blog
Tidechaser and Naked Hermit Crab Roy also shared with us his stories of what goes on other than the squares and lines for a TeamSeagrass transect. Little did we know that so much preparation was needed before we could head out and look at our grassy friends!
Be sure to read more about Roy and his adventures on his Tidechaser Blog and the stories of the various trips with the Naked Hermit Crabs on the Naked Hermit Crabs Blog
The other speakers include Kok Sheng who shared with us his findings on his project which aimed to monitor the situation at Chek Jawa after the mass death incident earlier this January. Andy also showed us some threats to our shores and one particularly amusing story he shared was that this poacher ran into Ria and some volunteers at Sentosa one morning and after being told off by them, he went to another side of Sentosa and ran into Siti! Talk about getting what you deserve!
After the sharing session by our volunteers, the TeamSeagrass Orientation finally began. It started off with Siti giving us a whole introduction to TeamSeagrass, Seagrass Watch, the methods and biology behind these surveys. It started to get a little sleepy somewhere in the middle as people are getting hungry but we pulled through. Much to our surprise, Siti didn't mention much about the algaes so a shoutout to our new volunteers here:
Seagrasses are NOT ALGAE!!
The presentation segment of the day's programme ended with none other than Ria giving her safety briefing about what to do and what not to do on our shores. Let's hope we all keep these advices in mind as they were gained from really really real (and painful) experiences.
Before we head off for the barbeque, we presented tokens of appreciation to 2 of our beloved volunteers for their dedication and contribution to the team. These unsung heroes were Sharphooter Marcus and Thrashinator Andy. They were both presented with signed copies of Singapore's Splendour written by nature enthusiast Dr. Chua.
And..... finally it was time for the barbeque! Everyone headed out to the open space outside the NParks office to dig in the glorious food. What's more, to compensate for the carbon we are releasing into the air, we used ceramic plates rather than plastic ones to be more environmentally friendly.
We had a wonderful chef who did the barbequeing at first and after he left, the volunteers decided to take things into their own hands....
Which ended up with cooked food as such:
The barbeque was also a wonderful opportunity for volunteers new and old to share their stories and experiences. Besides this would be the last time we could have a party here as the NParks are about to move to a new place near NUS Law Faculty.
Being such environmentally friendly people, we recycled the empty drink cans instead of throwing them away.
We partied till around 9pm when the volunteers shuddered at the call for someone to finish the remaining food. After that, we packed up and ended this day of fun on a really joyous note (look, even Dionne is smiling when packing up).
Ria adds: What a wonderful account of a great event!
Thank you Dickson for taking care of the photo-taking and the blog entry!
All this would not have been possible without the presence and support of the 30 seagrassers (old and new) who turned up for the evening. It was great catching up with everybody.
With special thanks for the kind contributions these Team members ...
Marcus, Ron, Kok Sheng, Mr Lim and the seagrass angels, Andy: for giving the talks. I learnt a lot from all of them!
Gaytri: for making the fabulous banner (which we intend to take on all our trips), managing the decor and manning the reception desk. Gaytri together with Dionne, Kevin and Hannah also instantly created seagrasses for our decor.
Chay Hoon, Dickson, Sijie, Andy: for coming earlier to prepare for the event and check through the equipment for repairs and losses.
Wei Ling, Robin, Shufen and Kevin: for taking care of the BBQ, the drinks and doing all the preparations for the event.
Siti and Shufen for putting together the great seagrass guide! And Kevin laminated everything so quickly too.
Ley Kun for bringing cutlery, the wonderful salad and cake.
And some other kind soul brought curry puffs too!
NParks for providing the fabulous venue, the great seashores and coral reef posters as door gifts and to Mr Wong and Nigel for coming by for the event.
Dr Chua Ee Kiam for contributing two copies of "Singapore Splendours" as our tokens of appreciation to the most outstanding volunteers: Marcus and Andy!
SeagrassWatch also provided door gifts of all-new bookmarks with seagrassy views. Many of them from our very own shores!!
All of you made it a truly special event.
Thank you once again, everyone, for being there!
More about the party!
Shared on the Seagrass Angels' Labrador blog