The SAND Center acts as a field station for students, scientists, researchers, nature enthusiasts, and others to foster environmental consciousness and sustainability, and serve as an educational hub. While we have had a study abroad program and other initiatives in place since 2007, we decided to formalize our approach by becoming an official non-profit organization in 2021.
About Founder Jesse Leopold
Jesse Leopold is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in management, hospitality, development, eco-tourism, accounting, marketing, human resources, leadership and conservation. He’s a founding partner of The SAND Center, Andros Beach Club Resort, Andros Diving and Peak Paradise Vacations. He lives part time in the Bahamas with his sons Porter and Mason and travels the world for diving, spearfishing, skiing and life experience.
Our mission is to build a sustainable future for South Andros Island through conservation and education. We believe the future of South Andros Island and its community is critically dependent upon the health and preservation of the ecosystem. For generations, local people have built their culture and lifestyle around the abundant natural resources, that is, sun, sand and sea. Their diet consists primarily of locally harvested fish, conch, lobster, land crab, and agriculture. Ecotourism and commercial fishing and crabbing are the backbone of the local economy.
The marine ecosystem surrounding South Andros Island is one of the most unique, abundant and pristine environments on earth. It is home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, oceanic and inland blue holes, and an extensive network of mangroves and tidal creeks.
We work with universities, conservation organizations, and local partners to study, preserve and share the unique environment of South Andros Island. By creating ecotourism opportunities as an alternative for less sustainable practices, we hope to ensure South Andros Island will be stronger and better for future generations.
The SAND Center is a member of the following organizations:
Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS)
The Reef Rescue Network
through the Perry Institute for Marine Science
Field Station: A New Academic Hub
To operate a field station that will provide the academic focus and project space for universities and organizations to pursue their work.
Elevating South Andros via Science
To enhance scientific and educational projects that will benefit and sustain the communities of South Andros.
International Student Exchange
To provide the opportunity for cultural exchange among students. Currently, students primarily visit from the US (such as Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and so on) and the Bahamas, but they are certainly welcome from all over the world. We get inquiries from Canada, Europe, and as far away as Australia, and encourage you to reach out as well.
Programs and Activities
The rich and diverse ecosystem of South Andros Island provides an incredible opportunity for local community outreach and service learning programs, study abroad programs, exploration by nature lovers, and scientific research. The island’s beaches, extensive mangrove forests, and blue holes are home to an impressive array of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. From studying marine life to exploring the island’s vast network of hiking trails, South Andros Island is an ideal destination for those interested in fields of study ranging from environmental science, biology, and ecology to business ethics.
If you intend to conduct research on the island, you must obtain a permit from the Bahamian government. We have some limited facilities such as microscopes, a beach-side cabana, and full access to boats and scuba diving equipment.
Support and Funding
Up until now, the financial resources for our programs and related projects have come from student tuition, private foundations, and individual contributors. Establishing the Field Station and a 501(c)(3) status expands our ability to secure additional funding. We sincerely value your assistance in supporting our endeavors.