IFS PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Maritime Arts and Inspiration Center is a branch of International Field Studies. International Field Studies (IFS) is a public, non-profit, educational and scientific organization
established to promote and assist teachers with field study programs. Established in 1970, IFS
grew out of the increasing teacher interest in implementing field study experiences for their
students with minimal organizational difficulty and expense. In response to this interest, IFS
began by supporting field studies throughout the United States with administrative assistance,
financial coordination, group insurance coverage, and transportation. At the time of its
incorporation, IFSís goals were outlined as follows:
ďTo provide opportunities for students to learn about their environment, in all
disciplines, through direct field study experiences; to provide the structure for
developing an intensive field study program with competent leadership; to
promote educational and scientific activities through direct field experiences; to
cooperate with school systems so students may receive academic credit for field
IFS promotes the concept of field studies as an important educational method. These hands-on
learning experiences, outside of the classroom, are successful in almost every discipline, including
the natural sciences, creative arts, history, and physical education. IFS believes an
interdisciplinary approach to learning is especially well suited to the field studies environment.
IFS functions as a facilitator for educational groups seeking expertise and logistical support. IFS
staff members, experienced field instructors, and resource materials are available to assist teachers
and group leaders with educational development, site planning, and budgeting for a successful
comprehensive field program. By working with IFS to develop a proposed field study, teachers
are able to offer their students high quality field study opportunities, which would not be feasible
without such a collective effort.
Furthermore, IFS identifies the teacher/group leaderís active role in a successful field study, and
works with that teacher to develop his or her own teaching skills. Each individual teacher best
knows his or her studentsí interests, needs, and levels of achievement, and thus best knows how
to work with them. IFS recognizes this fact and believes the most successful field studies are
those in which the teacher is active in both the planning and implementation phases of the
Hundreds of teachers and leaders from many school systems, colleges, and other educational
organizations have worked with IFS to offer field study opportunities to their students. Some of
these instructors voluntarily serve on the IFS governing board and actively assist the IFS teaching
Thousands of students, of all ages, have participated in IFS field studies, either through locally based
field studies supplemented by classroom coursework, or in extended, self-contained, and
often credited field studies in North America, including the Bahamas.
Maritime Arts & Inspiration Center (MAIC)
Our beachfront facility, about one mile south of Forfar, is bordered on the west by a mangrove community and on the east by a gently sloping beach, this site offers unique charm and peacefulness. At MAIC, artists have the opportunity to learn traditional Bahamian craft from the master carvers, weavers, and boat builders of Andros. Classes are conducted in a large, thatched, chickee hut studio. MAIC is a model of sustainableliving, using solar and wind power, rainwater collection and composting toilet. All facilities are
made primarily of natural, locally found materials. Meals, classes, and other gatherings can take
place in a simple, one-room schoolhouse, identified on nautical charts as ďConspicuous White
House.Ē IFS supplies 6-person tents for up to 30 guests. However, participants must provide their own
sleeping bags, pillows, and ground pads. See the MAIC Packing List for a complete list of
recommended gear. The site also has a freshwater shower, 2 latrines, and a fire-ring for evening
fireside lessons, stories and games.
The IFS island staff is often an international mix of personnel. Local Bahamians hold most
maintenance, cooking, general housekeeping, security, and grounds-work positions. Staff is responsible for supporting your field study and will work with your group on a daily basis. The entire IFS staff is focused on helping to provide the best experience for your group. Most of the interns are paid between $200 and $500 a month. Please donít forget, a donation, gift, or gratuity to our IFS staff for outstanding service is most appreciated and is tax-deductible.
Andros is the largest island of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas. At more than 100 miles long
and 40 miles wide, it is the fifth largest in all of the Caribbean. Engulfed in a sense of mystery,
the sparsely populated Andros is laced with creeks and has a densely forested inland. The
islands western coast is still largely unexplored.
History on Andros includes a colorful array of farming and fishing, Arawak and Lucayan Indians,
European explorers and colonizers, slaves, pirates, bootleggers, and smugglers. Today, compared
with other Bahamian islands, Andros has a much smaller population with fewer than 8,000
people. Many of the inhabitants are fishermen, weavers, and farmers who live in settlements
along the East Coast. Because Andros is split in half by bights and inlets, transportation
between the north and south islands is difficult. North Andros is home to more than half the
population, a Mennonite mission, a few small resorts, and the Atlantic Undersea Test and
Evaluation Center (AUTEC) - a NATO base run by the US Navy.
Andros does not offer the amenities expected by some visitors. Services such as phone, water,
and electricity are still not available everywhere on the island. Casinos and shows have not
invaded Andros and there are no malls or fast food chains on the island. There are a few small
stores where snack foods and meals can be purchased, but be sure to remember your film, insect
repellent, and bathing suit.
Although Andros is roughly 200 miles off the coast of Florida, the language and culture are
distinctly different from the States. Androsians live in small communities with standards of
housing, dress, and sanitation unlike what we are accustomed to in the States. We share a
common language, but Bahamian English is spoken rapidly and sometimes is hard to understand.
Donít hesitate to ask for clarification. Bahamians are friendly, and eager to share their lives and
their views as our guests visit their communities. Visitors who embrace the Androsian people
and their culture will be richly rewarded and educated by the experience. Andros is widely
known for its unique and beautiful baskets, carvings, and batik fabrics, just a few of the special
gifts available for purchase.
The lack of development on Andros enhances its environmental uniqueness and makes it an ideal
site for our field studies. The pace of life is slow. The passing of the sun, rather than the ticking
of the clock, measure the days, and itís still possible to walk down the middle of the road
without stopping traffic.
The Nature of Andros
Andros is a subtropical island with at least five distinct vegetation zones, a variety of reefs, many
species of fish, birds, insects, and some reptiles. The geology of the island is distinctive, with
fascinating blue holes and intriguing ooid shoals. For more detailed information about the
individual sites you can visit, see our ďSites and SightsĒ guide.
Andros lends itself well to terrestrial studies since its size correlates with its diversity.
Savannah, coppice, swash, and mangrove areas are all accessible for field study. In both wetland
and forested areas, a wide variety of endemic and North American birds have been included in
long-term bird counts. Reptiles include the endangered Bahamian boa and a variety of anoles. In
the summertime, look for land crabs. Along the coast, compare the rocky shores to the white
sand beaches and ask to visit some excellent invertebrate tide-pooling areas.
Geologists are attracted to many features in the Bahamas, including the thick limestone
foundation of the islands, dramatically cut by deep channels. Andros is known for its 178 inland
and 50 oceanic blue holes.
When people think of the Bahamas, they visualize white sand beaches, a balmy breeze, and
azure, crystal water. Andros has each in abundance. But perhaps the barrier reef is the most
stunning feature. Just one of several marine habitats, the reef runs the full length of the island.
The Andros reef is the third largest in the world, second only to Australia and Belize, and is
considered by many to be the most diverse and pristine. The reef has both fringing and barrier
characteristics and supports a colorful and amazing diversity of life. It offers a tremendous
variety of 10-25 foot deep gardens abloom with both hard and soft corals, some of which emerge
from the seas at low tide.
You donít need to be a scuba diver to enjoy the benefits of the ocean. Our snorkeling sites
described in the ďSites and SightsĒ guide offer fantastic views of a great variety of fish, coral, and
other invertebrates. Occasionally, snorkelers enjoy the rare privilege of playing with wild
dolphins that may join in for a dip off the beach at Forfar. For more information about
snorkeling, see the snorkeling section of this handbook.
The temperature on Andros is gorgeous all year long. The single most important climatic agent
affecting the Andros weather is the warm trade wind. During the winter months, the Gulf Stream
warms the island, in May, southerly trade winds return to gently cool them.
Average Monthly Temperatures:
January 70††††††††††††††††††††††††††† July 81
February 70†††††††††††††††††††† August 82
March 72†††††††††††††††††† September 81
April 75†††††††††††††††††††††††††† October 78
May 77††††††††††††††††††††††† November 74
June 80†††††††††††††††††††††† December 71
As with all tropical islands, water is a precious commodity on Andros. The large fresh water
supply provides ample amounts of drinking water to the residents of the island. Andros also
provides nearby New Providence Island with 4 million gallons of water a day. We are fortunate
at Forfar, and can drink water straight from the tap. We ask people conserve water by taking
sailor showers (get wet, turn off the water, suds up, rinse off). But donít hesitate to drink as
much as you want.
WHAT ITíS ALL ABOUT
IFS considers a field study a course in its own right, rather than a supplement to a classroom
course. Field studies are usually a week or more of full-time study. Many have pre- and posttrip
coursework and may qualify for college credit. Andros provides an outstanding
environmental setting for a weeklong, or longer, program. Marine biology, oceanography,
botany, ornithology, ecology, tropical studies, and sociology can be studied in a broad overview,
or broken into discrete topics.
Although we donít offer a set curriculum, we try to facilitate the group leadersí ability to prepare
a course suited to student needs and educational objectives. We do offer potential group leaders a
reduced fare to visit the island for an evaluation. They can see the study sites, meet the staff, and
see other groups in action. As mentioned previously, we provide the ďSites and SightsĒ guide to
aid in preparing a trip plan. It outlines topics suitable for study, the study sites available, and
sample trip itineraries. In addition, it describes some of the communities we visit.
If you havenít visited Andros previously, you may wish to identify your main content interests
and trip objectives and let the staff help you decide the details when you get there.
Whether a rookie or a pro, it is important you submit in advance a description of your course
objectives, itinerary, planned pre-trip sessions, and post-trip sessions. If you prepare a
handbook or other instructional materials, we would appreciate a copy of those too. If you wish,
the field station interns can review your trip plan in advance and respond with comments and
suggestions. Once you send copies of your materials to IFS Nelsonville, they will fax your
materials to Forfar Field Station.
If you donít have a history of field studies, you may need to begin by researching such
things as administrative or board support, handling of finances, scheduling, and course credit. To
receive approval, you may want to create an information packet that includes instructional
justification for the trip, proposed curriculum, financial outline, and information about IFS and
itís programs. Colleges and universities will also be concerned with course listings and financial
support. IFS can assist you with preparing the necessary paperwork in advance of your trip.
1. Contact IFS Nelsonville early to schedule a trip. Having an idea of dates and the number of
students is very helpful. Prime dates are usually filled a year or more in advance. If you can
be flexible with your dates, we have a better chance of meeting your needs. Please see the
Andros Fee Schedule insert for details about confirmation. Trips usually run from Saturday
to Saturday, although we can occasionally be flexible in accommodating alternate schedules.
2. Hold an informational meeting for students and parents at least nine months in advance to
announce your trip. Cover trip objectives and details such as course credit, sign-up deadline,
fees, and payment schedule. Include a packet of information about IFS, Andros Island and
the goals of the trip. If you feel you donít have enough students to make a viable trip,
consider joining with two or three other schools in your area.
3. Find out how payments should be handled. You should submit student checks through your
finance office, or send their checks directly to IFS Nelsonville.
4. Determine pre- and post-trip activities. Some trip leaders offer no pre-trip instruction, using
the field study as an educational sightseeing experience. Other trip leaders prepare course
material and/or offer a series of preparatory classes based on the intended field study. This
instruction may range from one or two classes to an entire term.
ē We highly recommend conducting at least one pool session to assess swimming
skills and provide snorkel instruction prior to your trip. The Forfar staff will
review snorkeling at the beginning of your stay, but pre-trip practice with the gear
minimizes discomfort and size problems. Contact a local dive shop about pool
facilities and instruction.
ē IFS does offer scuba instruction. Please contact IFS Nelsonville, in advance of your trip,
for scheduling and instructional fees.
5. Make travel arrangements in advance. You are responsible for making your own way to Ft.
Lauderdale, Florida. If you plan to fly, it is advisable to work with a travel agent to secure
the best rates. IFS can help coordinate flight plans to Ft. Lauderdale! Hocking Hills
Travel, a full service travel agency, is located in the IFS Nelsonville office. One call to our
office and all trip arrangements to Andros can be handled. We can also help advise if you
plan to travel by bus or van. IFS has special group rates available at the La Quinta Inn &
Suites, Ft. Lauderdale Airport location. Information is included on your airport map insert.
6. If you have a team of chaperones, you may wish to share the chores: pre-trip instruction of
swimming, snorkeling, and scuba details; travel arrangements; student-parent communication;
meetings; payment collection; IFS communication.
HELPING IFS HELP YOU
Planning and communication are two of the most important elements in putting together a
successful trip. Here are a few tips:
1. We understand youíll be estimating participant numbers when we first talk. However, a
$200.00 deposit, per person, is due three months in advance of the trip to hold spots.
Remember, other groups may be trying to fill trips for the same date. Using realistic numbers
will help us to avoid over- or under-booking and allows us to keep costs low.
2. Because use of Forfar is linked to parts of the school calendar, our income is similarly
restricted. Therefore, we expect timely payments on all trip fees as outlined.
3. What should I do if I have an emergency or a delay?
Call IFS Nelsonville toll free, 1-800-962-3805, before 5pm. After 5pm, contact Dr. Ben Bohl,
614-353-7260. You may also call IFS Ft. Lauderdale, 954-359-0445, and leave a detailed message
with a phone number to contact you.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The safety of our guests is the priority of IFS and the Forfar interns. Most, if not all, interns are
trained in CPR and first aid, and many have advanced training for dive related accidents. The
remote location dictates some of our policies concerning safety. We ask group leaders to
cooperate fully regarding general safety and accident-prevention procedures.
We recommend group leaders, diving instructors, and other counselors or chaperones, be versed
in CPR, first aid, bleeding control, and shock treatment. They should also have a familiarity with
the signs and symptoms of dehydration and allergic reactions. If there are SCUBA divers, all
leaders should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of decompression sickness and related
barotraumas. We request you notify Forfar interns of your level of training in CPR or first aid,
as well as that of the other chaperones or students. This will allow us to better coordinate efforts
in case of an emergency.