The Class of 2021 of the Pacific Century Fellows-Marianas Chapter had its second retreat last May 20 at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium conference room, with the 13-member cohort gaining a more in-depth perspective of environmental development in the CNMI.
From zoning permits to environmental quality, marine biology and fishing to natural and coastal resources, the cohort was given sufficient information on environment protection and development.
Class member Lee Tenorio, who is also the Saipan Chamber of Commerce executive director, said that Commonwealth Zoning Board administrator Geralyn D. Dela Cruz’s presentation on zoning permits was most useful from a business perspective because there is value in identifying the variety of permits that are needed for residential or business projects.
“Working with local businesses, small and large, it is a typical concern on permitting with regards to the one-start application process as it consists of multiple agencies for approval,” said Tenorio.
The cohort learned that permit requirements need to be completed first to move forward with projects, whether it’s building, renovating, or expanding. With this knowledge, Tenorio said this gives him a clear and concise direction on how to proceed.
Victoria Deleon Guerrero, director for Mount Carmel School’s Institutional Development, said all presentations regarding environmental development were very informative.
“As an educator, it’s helpful for me to meet the various leaders who are involved with natural resource management and the different sectors that exist so I can also introduce these professions to my students to consider as they think about college,” said Deleon Guerrero.
She added that it’s a great opportunity to be able to speak with leaders in the community to understand what’s going on, what the CNMI’s challenges are, what’s effective, and what we are doing to move forward with development without compromising the environment.
Another educator, Dr. Riya Nathrani, found the presentation from the Micronesian Islands Nature Alliance and the Bureau of Environment and Coastal Quality the most informative and useful. Nathrani said she enjoyed learning about the programs MINA conducts to enhance the environment, from the Bring Back Our Trees campaign to doing beach cleanups with Tasi Watch rangers.
Nathrani has worked with MINA’s Environmental Conservation Program for the past two years. This program has allowed her students to be involved in several projects in school where they learn about environmental protection and preservation.
“I enjoyed hearing from BECQ about their goals on improving environmental quality. The presentation focused on coral reef conservation, pesticides, waste and air quality management, and wastewater and erosion control,” she said.
Nathrani said these topics allowed her and other PCF class members to discuss the implications leaders have in the community and how environmental factors can influence decisions.
The Class of 2021 will have its third retreat on June 16 and the group will talk about health and humanitarian services in the Marianas. Other members of the Class of 2021 are Nicole Babauta, Broc Calvo, Weston Thomas Deleon Guerrero, William “Billy” Richard Grow II, Hedwig Hofschneider, Julie Ann Litulumar, Ana Mendiola, Annette Pladevega, and John Gilbert Saludez.
The PCF-Marianas Chapter would like to thank Dela Cruz, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality-Division of Environmental Quality acting director Zabrina Shai, MINA program manager David L. Benavente, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council vice chair John Gourley, Rep. Sheila Babauta, and BECQ Division of Coastal Resources Management director Janice Castro for their inputs in the class’ discussions.
The Pacific Century Fellows Marianas Chapter is a nine-month leadership development program organized by the Tan Siu Lin Foundation and modeled after the Pacific Century Fellows of Hawaii. (PR)