Updated: Sep 7, 2021
VOLUNTEER RESTORATION DIVERS ARE BACK AT CRF™
Did you know that you can volunteer for Coral Restoration Foundation™? Before Covid-19 shut down the world, volunteer divers joined interns and staff on CRF’s work boats and assisted with Dive Programs on a regular basis. Volunteers also helped us on land with everything from making monofilament loops to helping run outreach events.
In March 2021, a full year after we initially shutdown for the safety of our staff and supporters, we reopened a portion of our volunteer program, coral restoration SCUBA diving! Though we are still operating in a limited capacity, we have divers back in the water with us twice a month and are eager to continue bringing as many of our volunteers back as we can, safely.
A group of CRF™ volunteers gathers to begin training! ©JD Reinbott/Coral Restoration Foundation™
“Volunteers play a vital role in the work that we do at CRF, both above and below water. The absence of these passionate and dedicated individuals was felt by all of us, and it is AMAZING to finally be able to start working with them again. While the program is still not back to full capacity, we are cautiously making progress.” -JD Reinbott Volunteer Coordinator
Through our recreational public Dive Programs, we learned how to operate on charter boats with face coverings and safe social distancing while still achieving our restoration goals. With this new knowledge we figured out how to implement a similar model for our long-term, formal, volunteer program and reintegrate these individuals to our work.
Dive Program Intern Charis teaches volunteers to hand corals on our Coral Trees at Coralpalooza™ 2021!
Because our volunteers have not worked in coral restoration for over a year, we are currently focused on training volunteers to work independently as restoration divers. We hope you will join us as we begin to reintegrate volunteers slowly and safely into our practice!
The safety of the volunteers is our top priority, to find out what is required to qualify for our Volunteer Program and fill out an application please visit https://www.coralrestoration.org/volunteering.
It is summertime and that means students are out of school! What better way to stay active and keep their minds sharp than coming to Key Largo and joining Coral Restoration Foundation™ on a dive program! In the past month, we have had numerous groups of middle school and high school aged students join us. These age groups are massively rewarding to work with because they are curious about every part of the work we do and actively engage with our presentation.
“I love working with teens because they are in such a transformative point in their life thinking about what career they want in the future. There is a contagious energy in the classroom and in the water with these young ocean stewards.” - Charis Peterson, Dive Program Intern
One of the school groups that joined us was West Coast Connections. During their day and a half on land with us, they aced the hands-on training and moved right on ahead to an Invertebrates Field Guide to dive deeper into life on the reef. In the water, we put their knowledge to the test. When we climbed back onto the boat after each trip the air was filled with a cacophony of voices discussing identifying characteristics for species they saw!
Students learn about coral reef ecology and how to return corals to the wild during our public Dive Programs! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
After their half-day helping us maintain our Coral Trees and exploring our nursery, we reconvened in the classroom, something else more dive programs do not do. There, students brainstormed new ways to clean our trees and designed a new nursery structure to make cleaning and harvesting more efficient. We finished our time together with a panel of interns and staff discussing how they came to CRF™ and where they are looking to take their carriers in the future.
School groups like this renew our hope in the next generation of marine scientists, conservationists, and ocean stewards. We plan to continue developing special, extended dive programs like this one to reach even more people and spread awareness about climate change, coral reefs, and what you can do about it.
RESOURCES FOR YOU
Our Coralpalooza™ Digital 2021 platform is still open! Check out all of our exclusive content before it's gone!
Atlantis Dive Resorts has teamed with three incredible NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) including Coral Restoration Foundation™ to bring coral restoration to the heart and core of their programs.
You can now participate in a fulfilling week at the Dumaguete Atlantis Dive Resort in The Philippines! Help build and maintain the largest coral nursery in Dauin!
"Diving In" Editorial Intern
Charis grew up in Michigan where her curiosity for the underwater world started in the local rivers and lakes. She always had a passion for marine biology. While she was in high school, her family unexpectedly had to relocate to coastal Georgia. Moving across the country allowed her to pursue her passion. After learning about the threats and harm humans have caused to coral reefs, she decided she did not want to just study coral reefs, but she wanted to be a part of the solution.
Charis is a recent graduate from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a M.S. in Biotechnology and a concentration in Molecular Biotechnology. She received her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Coastal Ecology from the College of Coastal Georgia in 2017. She is a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and has enjoyed working as a dive professional in the British Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. Charis is excited to intern with CRF™ because she is passionate about educating the public on how to protect our oceans.
Coral Chronicles Editorial Intern
Tessa Markham is a recent graduate of Skidmore College, with a BA in English and Environmental Studies. She grew up in Wilton, in southwestern Connecticut, but spent her summers growing up either hiking and camping in the woods or swimming and sailing on the water. She has always been passionate about climate change and conservation. Diving for the first time in 2014 while taking a marine conservation course in the Caribbean leeward islands, she quickly amassed dives and got her PADI Instructor certification just three years
later. Just after completing her instructor training, she spent nearly a month on the Yucatan Peninsula conducting research on their reefs, looking at the ratio of soft versus stony coral death. She later channeled her distress at the degradation of the reefs to write a short story about coral bleaching, which was published in Volume 5 of the Oakland Arts Review in 2020. Her capstone thesis built on this theme and she wrote a collection of four creative short stories that detail and exemplify climate change-induced environmental damage through a narrative lens. She aims to combine her degrees and experiences to make a career in science communications, making research and conservation accessible to everybody.
Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. Madalen comes to CRF™ via a winding road from the Tennessee hills, to the South Carolina low country, ending here in Florida’s Coral Reef. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her experience ranges from field research to education, and communications.
Madalen spent the last 4 years as a Field Instructor and Social Media Strategist for MarineLab Environmental Education Center. Here she was able to study and teach marine ecology, while snorkeling through mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs every day. While at MarineLab she combined her education and research background, entered the world of communications, and developed MarineLab’s social media department from the ground up.
Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature. With CRF™, she is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration, creating inclusive pathways to scientific discovery.