"Heads Up"in April 2021 with the Coral Chronicles


Our Virtual After School Program has been a tremendous success! We had 30 students sign up for this free educational opportunity and each meeting has been a blast! So far, students have completed our both Maritime Slime and Appetizing Acropora activities both of which are available for free on our website!

The classroom dynamic is different than Gabrielle Rosenbacher, the lead intern spearheading the experience, expected; trying to instruct younger kids virtually meant she needed to find a way to keep her students engaged, and she quickly realized that exaggerating her behavior helped to transport her excitement through the screen. Gabrielle has had lots of help as she leads these programs, one day a young boy participated in the activities alongside his entire family, including his grandma and parents! In addition to Gabrielle, Molly Whiting, a first-round intern, and Sami Miller, another lead intern, have been helping with the after school program.

After the second meeting, when students learned to build an anatomically correct coral polyp from delicious household foods, Gabrielle got an email saying one of our students was building an entire coral polyp family with the help of his mom! Despite the difference in learning environment, it has been rewarding to see kids excitedly lining up their materials for each activity. We hope to continue this program for future students to enjoy!


This past week was training for the first-round interns, affectionately known as ‘polyps’ who are soon-to-be lead interns. The day was split into three sections: a review of lead intern responsibilities, a restoration activity, and a skills review.

The polys say that it was useful for them to have their responsibilities laid out so concisely; there was also a strong emphasis on the role of a lead intern as a mentor and example to incoming interns. The second activity, created by our Volunteer Coordinator JD, gave a behind the scenes look at on of the most glamorous parts of his role, scheduling. The interns were tasked with build a two-week schedule, which sounds simple in theory, but in practice took patience and organization!

The final skills review was received gratefully, and instilled confidence in the rising lead interns. They learned everything from how to properly correct divers underwater to managing a team and delivering constructive feedback. Through these training sessions and subsequent implementation of the new skills we strive to empower our lead interns and help them to diversify their own personal skillset.


Last week, Coral Restoration Foundation hosted a day-long education and snorkel program for Ransom Everglades High School. This was a repeat school trip with students ranging from about 13 to 17. While mostly a group of certified open water divers, that day’s program was strictly snorkeling.

Ransom Everglades High School poses for a group photo before heading out to explore the reef! ©Ransom Everglades High School

The students were split into two groups: one getting the dive program education at the Exploration Center with Molly Whiting, a first-round intern, and the other in the water with Tessa Markham, a lead intern. The land portion of this snorkel program consisted of the full dive program hands-on education, including nursery maintenance training and outplanting practice, as well as the calcium carbonate Coral Cannon edutainment activity.

The water portion was run like a scavenger hunt. Students were challenged to find and identify various aspects of the reef: two kinds of disease, one example of bleaching, one coral species, and one example of predation. Students were also encouraged to free dive to the shallow reef to get a closer look at the tangible version of what they learned in the classroom.

Many of our interns have gone on to do amazing work in the field of marine science. You can see what some of our CRF™ Alumni are up to here.



Join the fun!

We're looking for inspiring 10-second videos that tell the world about how you #CHOOSEYOURCHANGE to help save coral reefs!

We'll select the top submissions to broadcast during Coralpalooza™ Digital 2021!

Share your passion with the world, submit your video here.

"Heads Up" 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.

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89111 Overseas Hwy, Tavernier, Florida 33070


Exploration Center

5 Seagate Blvd, Key Largo, Florida 33037

(Next to the Pilot House Restaurant & Marina)

(305) 453-7030