Celebrating Leadership and Legacy: Executive Director Transitions from the EAG

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) has been operating for over 30 years with a strong emphasis on working with people to ensure that nature is managed sustainably for the benefit of all. A critical component of the ability of a non-governmental organisation to function effectively is having strong leadership – and  for the past five and a half years, Arica Hill has been that leader.

Starting her journey with the EAG in 2018, Arica has been at the helm overseeing a full overhaul of the operations of the EAG. When she first began her role as Executive Director, Arica started with a small team of four and asked them to rethink what conservation could, and should look like in Antigua and Barbuda. She wanted conservation to be reflective of our culture, but also to be impactful, all inclusive and life-altering. She wanted it to not just feel like something that was accessible to the rich, but made sense to every person.

Arica’s mantra at the EAG has been a ‘Discipline of Hope’ – that we could achieve beyond our wildest imaginations once we believe. Looking back over the years, she expanded that small team to a growing staff complement of 11 vibrant and dynamic individuals from Antigua and across the Caribbean.  She also helped to develop volunteer programmes that have increased the number of people who give their time on weekends and week-nights to conservation from a mere 10 to well over 100. This growing cadre of environmentalists have undergone intense in-class and field training, making them reliable field scientists who now support the collection of data that is used in international reports by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.

Arica also wanted to strengthen existing programmes and, through leveraging relationships formed with long-standing international partner Fauna & Flora, coordinated and managed the process of developing strategic plans for the EAG and its three main programmes. And while that sounds like “fluff”, knowing where each programme is going and how it should get there, has helped the organisation to be more targeted in its approach to conservation, while also being able to attract and retain the right kind of people and funding to support the work.

Now, not only is the EAG continuing to work on the offshore islands, but it is also working along with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Elkhorn Marine Conservancy to develop the Offshore Islands Nature Reserve that will show how managing the environment effectively can benefit both people and their pockets. The EAG also re-established its marine conservation programme, and is now working closely with the Fisheries Division to improve beach habitat for nesting sea turtles. And, of course, she has been a part of the significant success of the establishment of the Redonda Ecosystem Reserve and EAG being the managing entity for its massive 30,000 hectares of land and sea.

And while all of this has been happening, Arica recognised that it was not possible to just grow the EAG, but rather there is a need for other organisations to feel supported and have resources available to them as well. And so, in 2020 the EAG Environmental Conference or EECO was born. Through funding support from the British High Commission and other partners, the EAG has hosted three Green Jobs Symposiums, two Environmental Conferences, and one capacity building workshop, all focused on creating a groundswell of environmental action among civil society organisations and community groups in Antigua, Barbuda and the wider Caribbean.

We are extremely proud of the way Arica has given to the EAG, to her country, and to the region. And, now she moves on to give that same level of support and drive to non-governmental organisations across the Caribbean region.

On May 1st 2024, Arica will join the EAG’s longtime partner, Fauna & Flora, as the Caribbean Lead for their Caribbean programme. We are proud that she has been selected among many candidates to build ambition, inspire hope, and drive change along with conservationists across the region, in the face of the persistent threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. Not only do we wish her well, but we are grateful that Arica joins an organisation that has and will continue to support the EAG’s growth and development, and that of so many others within Antigua and Barbuda.

As we embark on this transition as an organisation, we would also like to take this opportunity to assure our members and strategic partners that the work of the EAG will continue uninterrupted. The EAG continues to be supported by a strong Board of Directors, many of whom have worked with Arica in her capacity as Executive Director for much of her tenure. Our respective programme coordinators remain committed to the EAG’s cause and continue to demonstrate dedication and resilience in achieving the strategic objectives of their respective programmes.

Thank you, Arica. We look forward to “Saving Nature Together”.

And now, the search for a new Executive Director begins!

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