SUPPORTING REEFS ONE ZOOM MEETING AT A TIME
CRF™ and our local Florida Keys community have been feeling the effects of COVID-19 alongside the rest of the world. This has unfortunately led to the cancellation of education programs and activities that were lined up for the spring and early summer.
However, while we work diligently to keep our staff and interns safe by practicing social and working from home, our drive to fulfill our mission of educating the public about our coral reefs has not stopped. Our education program discovered some creative ways to continue this critical aspect of our mission.
CRF™ Lead Intern Nik Varley presents an overview of CRF™ via Zoom to Ransom Everglades students in Miami. © Coral Restoration Foundation
Thankfully, today’s technology provides an accessible solution. By using our computers and apps like Skype and Zoom, we're bringing all of the wonderful coral knowledge to you and your students in the comfort of your own home! With our team of interns unable to dive, we are itching to find fun activities to keep ourselves busy and engaged with others who are interested in coral reefs and marine conservation. Online presentations are one of the ways we are doing this!
“Times are tough for everyone in this country right now, so I’m really happy that I can still make a positive impact in coral conservation and students’ education by teaching them about corals and what they can do as individuals to conserve our planet,” said CRF™ Lead Intern Nik Varley.
CRF™ Lead Intern Nik Varley teaches about coral reefs via Zoom to elementary school students. © Coral Restoration Foundation
Lead Intern Nik Varley talked to 23 11th and 12th grade students at Ransom Everglades School in Miami, Florida about CRF™ and the work we’re doing with corals on the Florida Reef Tract. Originally scheduled to go on a dive program with us this past month, the Marine Field Research class taught by PhDs Kelly Jackson, Kristine Stump, and Brooke Gintert, allows every student to get SCUBA certified as part of the course curriculum. An online presentation certainly doesn't beat the experience of outplanting corals on our dive programs, but it does provide additional coral reef and marine conservation education for students during these trying times.
Our intern team is also presenting to elementary school students in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! The teachers of the classes we've been presenting to love the content so much that they've invited CRF™ to lead more virtual presentations for their classes. We're excited to continue these online presentations!
CONNECTING WITH FAMILY
Ellen Hudson, a CRF™ lead intern, has been connecting with family members in other parts of the country through our edutainment activities! These family members, who wouldn't have had the opportunity to do this otherwise, engaged in some fun, hands-on activities that help solidify an understanding of coral and our reefs. With cousins ranging in age from 4-16 years old, she presented coral knowledge in ways that can appeal to younger and older students. With the younger ones, she gave the “What is a Coral” workshop, and then tailored our general presentation to the older group.
Ellen Hudson, CRF™ Lead Intern
She highlighted what CRF™ is, the things we do, how and why we do them, then finished off with how they can do their part as conservation stewards. And a little bit of slime making was also involved. If you want to learn how to make slime while learning about corals, keep on reading!
IT'S TIME FOR SLIME!
As a parent, you dread the mention of it. As a teacher, you frantically hide your art supplies in order to avoid the creation of it. But there's no doubt that children absolutely love and adore….SLIME!
The trend of making at-home slime has taken the youth scene by storm across the world. Simple at-home slime recipes have become a fun and easy way to create, experiment, and get your hands a little messy. Ok, very messy.
Elkhorn coral on the Florida Reef Tract. © Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
But did you know that making slime can facilitate a conversation about coral biology? You can easily turn slime-making into an educational lesson on the importance of coral mucus in the relationship between the sun and coral reefs. CRF has many online resources for at-home educational activity packs, one of these being a go-to favorite: Maritime Slime.
This activity can be done in the kitchen with simple supplies including:
More supplies can be added as available to enhance the lesson. This activity will teach students how mucus is a vital part of coral survival, as it plays a role in preventing the polyps from drying out in low-tide, and also how it's used as a stress indicator to remove bacteria, pollutants, and other irritants!
Dive into this slimy activity by downloading the activity pack and others on our website!
"Heads Up" Editorial Interns
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.
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 enthralled to be joining CRF™ as the first big step in her hopefully long career with environmental non-profits.