Teens from Park City and East High School restore coral reefs in Bali | ParkRecord.com

Teens from Park City and East High School restore coral reefs in Bali

Padma Organization facilitated the 2-week trip

Submitted by Lydia Brown
Padma is offering more trips in 2023. For information, visit padmaorganization.com.
Students from Park City East high schools take time out at the Tirta Empul Water Temple with project group leaders from the Padma Organization in Tampaksiring, Bali on June 13th.
Courtesy of Lydia Brown

Climate change is destroying large portions of coral reefs around the world. This summer a group of students from Park City and East high schools journeyed to the picturesque Indonesian island of Bali to repair damaged ocean reefs.

For two weeks, 19 students and several trip organizers from the Padma Organization with North Bali Reef Conservation to construct and deploy artificial coral reefs. Developed by marine biologists, these structures are designed to draw in various coral and fish species after five years. The project has increased the biodiversity of the area by 900 times. 

Working on this project while knowing it benefits the wildlife and community of rural northeast Bali was a wonderful experience for each of those involved. Lucy Terwillegar, an upcoming junior at Park City High School said, “It felt good being a part of a project that was helping the ocean and our earth.”

And North Bali Reef Conservation is grateful for the students’ efforts. “Our ongoing reef monitoring program has shown us that yes, our artificial reefs really are improving marine biodiversity and abundance on an area of previously destroyed reef,” the organization’s website says.

I’ve seen how these trips have changed students’ lives, opened their eyes, and helped them grow into young adults…” Luke Hanley, Padma Organization founder

The expedition was put together by Padma Organization, which designs and sponsors humanitarian, environmental and education projects around the world.

Padma was founded in Park City by PCHS alum Luke Hanley in 2006. Initially focused on helping disenfranchised children in Nepal, Padma has led service trips for high school students since 2015. 

“At first, I was a bit reluctant to take high school students to remote parts of the world to work on Padma projects. After our first trip, when I saw how impactful and fulfilling it was, not only for our students, but for the communities we serve, I was hooked,” Hanley said. “Over the years, I’ve seen how these trips have changed students’ lives, opened their eyes, and helped them grow into young adults, all while accomplishing vital works.”

This summer the organization led service groups to Bali, Indonesia; Santa Marta, Colombia; the Azores Islands of Portugal; and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana.

In Bali, the students stayed in the fishing village of Tianyar, where they also had the opportunity to work as teacher’s aids and experience a learning environment very different from what they were used to. 

Despite cultural differences and the language barrier, befriending and connecting with local youth, fishermen, village cooks, teachers, leaders and other foreign volunteer groups was an unforgettable experience for the Utah students.  

The service experience also created long lasting bonds between the student volunteers. 

“There’s a really strong group dynamic,” said Claire Mcfarlane, an upcoming junior at East High School. “One of my favorite parts had to be interacting with the local people, especially at the schools.” 

In addition to the service, group members were reminded of the reason for their work by enjoying the beauty of Bali through activities such as waterfall cliff jumping, a night swim featuring the ocean’s bioluminescence, snorkeling with turtles, surfing, planting trees, watching sunsets, and more.

Experiencing the Balinese culture through food, shopping, and even religious ceremonies led by local priests were among the highlights of the students’ travels.

Garrett Hebert, an upcoming junior at Park City High School said of the trip, “I got to experience a whole other culture and it’s been so much fun and so cool to see how other people live … the waterfall cliff jumping was really cool, too, and the food is awesome.”

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