Friends of the Environment (aka FRIENDS) is a Bahamian non-profit organization that was established in 1988 by a group of four Hope Town residents. Suzanne Bethel, Candace Key, Rudy Malone and Frank Kenyon were concerned about the unsustainable use of Abaco's natural resources; the organization was developed out of their desire to help. FRIENDS operated as an all volunteer group for many years with committee and Board meetings often being held at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge or Abaco Inn. FRIENDS was known for coordinating community cleanups, hosting plant sales, and advocating for change at a time when The Bahamas was facing wild dolphin capture, cruise ship dumping, and long-line fishing, among other issues. Many of FRIENDS' projects incorporated the participation of youth as Candace Key was a teacher, then principal, at Hope Town School (and Suzanne Bethel a former teacher).
As the years passed it became obvious that the needs of Abaco's environment had outgrown the small volunteer-only group. FRIENDS was lucky to be the recipient of a capacity-building grant from The Nature Conservancy in the early 2000's which facilitated the hiring of FRIENDS' first staff person, and the opening of an office in Marsh Harbour, enabling the organization to reach more people. In 2006, with the hiring of more staff, FRIENDS officially launched its education program, working to raise awareness of Abaco's natural resources and build pride and stewardship amongst Abaco's students. Since then, FRIENDS has reached over 23,000 students through classroom presentations, field trips, after-school clubs, and summer camps. In 2015, the opening of the Frank Kenyon Centre for Research, Education, and Conservation helped build further connections between science and the community.
FRIENDS now has a full time staff of five Bahamians, and a Board of 11, drawing from diverse fields such as research, education, fishing, and tourism. We are the only Abaco-based non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of Abaco's environment and effecting conservation through education.
Working towards a sustainable future for Abaco's
wildlife and people.
To preserve the environment of Abaco, The Bahamas through education, conservation, and research facilitation.
We are an island community that is living sustainably and proud to be stewards of our rich biodiversity.