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"Heads Up"... Again in January 2020 with the Coral Chronicles


Are you up for the "Coral to Action" Challenge? There's still time to submit your short video!

The National “Coral to Action” Student Challenge is a search for the best short video – of a minute or less – that tells the world about the crisis facing our coral reefs and how they can help.

Coral Restoration Foundation™ is looking for a film that is creative, engaging, and unexpected. The challenge is open to all students in America in Grades K through 12.

All entries must be received by Coral Restoration Foundation™ by February 11, 2020.

The three shortlisted videos will be announced and put to the public vote on March 23, 2020. The winner will be announced on April 6, 2020. 

The Challenge Brief

Create an original public service announcement video which sends a message about the current condition of the Florida Reef Tract and what people can do to help.

Students can work alone or in groups of up to four.

The video must be at least 20 seconds long, and not more than 58 seconds long.

Entries will be judged by a judging panel according to the following criteria:

  • Creativity 

  • Content (i.e. how well the video presents accurate information on the current condition of the Florida Reef and what can be done to save it)

  • Persuasiveness/Effective Communication 

The challenge is open to students who are enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade at a public or private school in the United States. Entries must be submitted by teachers, principals, councilors, parents, etc. who are at least 18 years old as of the date of entry.

All content must be original.

Putting it to the Vote

The videos will be whittled down to the final three by an expert panel that includes Richard Vevers from the Netflix hit "Chasing Coral", and Emmy Award-winner Angie Lassman from NBC 6.

The three shortlisted videos will then be put to a public vote to find the winner. 


The winning students will receive a state-of-the-art educational aquarium for their school, sponsored by Titan Aquatic Exhibits. Their video will be hosted on the Coral Restoration Foundation™ website and shared across every one of the organization’s social media accounts with a combined reach of just under half a million people per month. 

The winning participants will be brought to the Coral Restoration Foundation™ annual gala, Raise the Reef 2020*!

Amplifying the Message

The “Coral to Action” Broadcast Sponsor, NBC 6, is giving America’s students an opportunity to amplify their message. They are joining the mission to save our planet’s coral reefs from extinction and will be airing the winning film on their network and digital platforms.

*Terms and conditions apply.



Current CRF™ Interns.

We're so excited to welcome a new group of interns to the team as well as welcome back our group of returning interns! Traveling from across the U.S. to be with us in Key Largo, Florida, our new interns have been at CRF™ for about one month now, and are already diving into all things coral restoration. Continue reading to meet this bright new group!

Jim Brittsan

Jim has always found happiness in the ocean. Starting with family vacations, he was always the last one out of the water to the point where his Dad had to yell “shark!” to get him out. Jim has been diving since he was 13 years old and knew he wanted to life a live involving the ocean. He graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a degree in biology and a specialization in marine science. Jim was involved in the BGSU marine laboratory and internships with SECORE (Sexual Coral Reproduction). Once Jim saw his first coral spawn, and how so many organisms appreciate and revolve around corals, he was hooked.

Jim continued to work with SECORE to continue this excitement for two more workshops. He also broadened his spectrum by volunteering with the Smithsonian Institution looking at the effects of climate change on the Gulf of Maine. Seeing how so many species are affected by climate change in cold and warm water made him want to pursue marine conservation further. After school, Jim worked in bleacher construction, but knew he wanted to make a positive difference in planetary ecology which is when found CRF™. Jim is very excited and eager to be a part of CRF™ and our mission to restore coral reefs.

Maddy Montgomery

Originally from Indiana, Maddy pursued her passion for the sciences at Boston University where she graduated with a B.A. in Ecology and Conservation Biology and a minor in Marine Science. Although she always had an interest in wildlife, her passion for conservation was cultivated by her experiences studying abroad in Latin America. From handling bats in Ecuador to studying the health of corals in Belize, Maddy fell in love with all aspects of field work and research. After graduating, she gained experience in environmental education while working as a marine naturalist in Hawaii and Washington state. While she enjoyed educating passengers aboard ecotourism vessels (and watching whales pretty much every day), she made it her goal to pursue a career that unites both research and education.Maddy is enthusiastic about transferring her attention to coral restoration and environmental outreach at CRF™. While on the team, she hopes to learn as much as she can about working for a nonprofit while also assisting in coral restoration efforts.

Maria McCausland

Maria, growing up in Seattle, knew from a very young age that she wanted to be an environmentalist. The vastness of the ocean and adventure embodied in marine conservation spoke to her the most, and this passion led her to travel the world to study sustainability, live on a boat for a short time, and receive her scuba certification before graduating high school.

She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies, where she gained experience in documentary filmmaking, coastal grant reviewing, and was connected with many other environmental and social activists. After being an educator for the last year, Maria is thrilled to be joining CRF™ as the first big step in her hopefully long career with environmental non-profits.

Andrew Ibarra

Andrew was raised in West Palm Beach, Florida and spent many hours in the Atlantic Ocean swimming and snorkeling as a child. He graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and minors in biology and mathematics. In school, he researched marine gastropods and conducted sea turtle tagging surveys. After graduating, Andrew wanted to dive (no pun intended) into the world of marine conservation and do something to make a tangible difference for the ocean. After completing 50 dives in the Upper Keys and witnessing ghastly coral graveyards, struggling ecosystems, and degraded portions of the Florida Barrier Reef, Andrew was inspired to apply to CRF™ to actively help restore our beloved marine ecosystem. He is super excited to join the CRF™ family and learn a variety of skills both above and below the surface. In his spare time, Andrew loves playing any and all sports and watching Marvel movies on repeat.

Ashton Hughes

Ashton has been mesmerized by the ocean since she can remember. She visited the beach for the first time when she was six months old and has since spent countless summer days on the coasts of Alabama and Florida. It wasn’t until she visited the Hawaiian Islands that she realized the condition the coral reefs were in – appalled to find dead coral rubble, drained of almost all life. Unfortunately, as Ashton traveled to other tropical destinations she found the same thing -  bleached, diseased, algae-smothered, and dead coral.  Ashton attended Auburn University and studied conservation of organismal biology to begin her search for answers to this crisis.

While at Auburn, she completed field and lab-based research focusing on marine biology. She joined Operation Wallacea during the summer of 2018 and completed field research on the monitoring methods of coral reefs at Akumal Bay, Mexico with hopes to find the quickest and most efficient way to monitor reefs on a global scale. In 2019, Ashton completed research in Dr. Nanette Chadwick’s lab on the major modes and rates of clonal replication of the corallimorpharian, Ricordia florida. As a new graduate, Ashton is ecstatic to be an intern with CRF™, fulfilling her dream of restoring coral reefs and educating the public about marine conservation.

Kuba Naum

As a kid, the only thing on Kuba’s mind was that he had to snorkel with a turtle. Being an 8-year-old living in a small Swedish town, the chances of that were rather slim. It wasn't until several years later, on his family vacation to Villamendhoo, that his fantasy became a reality. To this day he still remembers how serene and graceful that turtle was. How it effortlessly glided through the water column, colorful wrasses dancing and darting in all sorts of directions around it. It was an image that stayed with him, one that sparked a love for the ocean.

Since then, he has become a rescue diver and has worked with Saba marine park rangers on their coral farms. He turned from being a recreational diver to someone who actively strives for change. By seeing both the destruction and beauty of our underwater ecosystems he realized that if anything was worth fighting for, it was our reefs. So he couldn’t be more happy to be an Intern here at CRF™ and he’s thrilled to be a part of their mission.

Lauren Zitzman

Lauren studied psychology and environmental studies at Seattle University, where she had the life altering experience of studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands. There she was introduced to marine biology, conservation, and diving. After that, her passion for diving has only increased, and she is now a dive instructor who has traveled to explore the marine ecosystems in the Maldives, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest, and the Florida Keys.

As an avid learner, Lauren immersed herself in the local environment and started volunteering with Seattle Aquarium as a diver, beach naturalist and salmon naturalist. Lauren is interested in one day conducting deep-sea research, so she earned her certification as a ROV pilot and technician. Most recently, she became a marine educator at Pacific Marine Research Afloat and while there, she was taught to inspire change through educating young people to make an everlasting change on the planet. Lauren is excited to be a part of CRF™ because she's able to continue working in education while making a visible difference for the planet.


"Heads Up" Editorial Intern

Shane's love for the ocean was obvious from a young age. During family trips to Cape Cod, he would spend all his time digging in the sand or wading through water and grass, net and bucket in hand, looking for any creatures he could catch. He continued to explore his passion by learning as much as he could from books and documentaries. He began scuba diving in 2011, and would eventually graduate from Stony Brook University in 2018 with a B.S. in Marine Vertebrate Biology. It was during his time at Stony Brook that he developed a desire to not only improve the conditions of our oceans and planet, but to educate others and share his passion. Shane is ecstatic to be a part of the CRF team. He looks forward to learning as much as he can while directly contributing to the health of our reefs and educating and inspiring future generations to share his passion.

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