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"Heads Up"in August 2021 with the Coral Chronicles

Updated: Sep 7, 2021


As summer draws to a close, we wrap up the inaugural Florida Sea Base & Coral Restoration Foundation™ educational program. The first of its kind, CRF™ interns led 900 Boy Scouts from all over the country through coral ecology presentations, hands-on activities, and Dive Programs that offered them first-hand experience as a coral restoration scientist. 

CRF™ Sea Base Intern Lindsey teaches the Boy Scouts how to secure corals to the reef structure. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

Each week, 24 Boy Scout troops gathered around CRF™ interns and soaked in hands-on restoration practices and educational activities, thriving in this interactive and engaging environment. Underwater, they were just as eager. Interns also presented to groups of 50 or more twice a week, even opening it up to non-Sea Base learners.

“I really enjoyed seeing Boy Scouts who were from a landlocked area of the United States get to experience what it means to be a good ocean steward and learn about the importance of coral reef conservation,” says first round intern Kendall Fitzgerald. 

A boy scout learns about coral restoration on the boat ride to the reef restoration site where he will return the corals himself! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

This collaboration has shown that local involvement and inter-organization collaboration succeeds! It creates opportunities to teach about the importance of reef conservation not only in the Florida Keys, but around the world. We’re already counting down to next summer!



Restoration practitioners often lend each other a hand to get us all one step closer to our unifying goal, healthy oceans! Multiple conservation groups from the Florida Keys banded together in an event organized by MANG to help reestablish the native mangrove

population on historic Pigeon Key! CRF™ was happy to have representatives support this incredible collaborative effort.

Mangrove and coral reef ecosystems go hand-in-hand, acting as a nursery habitat for young reef animals and filtering nutrients from nearshore waters so they are crystal clear by the time they reach the reef! Mangroves also play a major role in decreasing erosion, stabilizing sediment, and reducing impact from storms like hurricanes. Planting mangroves evokes the same feeling that CRF™ Dive Program participants get when they return corals to the reef: joy, inspiration, and hope. 

Coral Restoration Foundation™ works alongside many restoration groups to plant mangrove trees on Pigeon Key. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™

“Even though we see restoration in action every day, seeing these mangroves restored was moving in a way that I never expected. It was the feeling that I had the first time I saw new corals on the reef, ones I had returned to the wild. I would absolutely do this again,” said Molly Whiting, lead intern.

With the help of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Surfrider Foundation, Mote Marine Laboratory, the National Audubon Everglades Science Center, and the Pigeon Key Educational Summer Camp participants, Pigeon Key is now the home to 1,100 one year-old mangrove seedlings!

Like coral, these baby mangroves will grow and intertwine with each other, creating a solid foundation for the island, protecting it from coastal erosion, and providing habitat for countless critters.  

In total, our 1,100 mangroves are just a small part of MANG’s 312,000+ mangroves planted! We know that it takes large-scale massive action to restore not only the world’s coral reefs, but all ecosystems, as they are all interconnected.Whether we are planting trees or returning endangered corals to the wild, the larger scale on which we operate the greater impact we have toward positive change!



CRF™ holds bi-monthly intern meetings to bring together all interns  to share any updates, projects, or awesome things that have happened.  The first hour of the workday is dedicated to updates from departments and on projects, while the second hour invites a guest speaker. 

A myriad of guest speakers and CRF™ staff members, all sharing about the work they do and any cool projects they are working on, came both virtually and in-person to speak with the interns. This gives interns an insight into the different things going on within CRF™ that we may not hear about on a day-to-day basis and an insight into where they can go from here and how their careers can evolve. 

Our Education Program Intern put together an hour of educational fun dedicated to how to prepare for educational events and generally improve teaching technique. To help train and refresh the intern’s minds, Gabrielle organized and taught two workshops that interns can present at events, in classrooms, or even virtually!

Gabrielle expressed, “I really wanted to show everyone just how fun education can be. It doesn’t need to be intimidating. It truly is what you make of it, reminding yourself to be fully present, passionate, and adaptable. If you’re in a good mood and excited to be teaching, then the students will be too.” 

The intention was to engage the interns, so that they can take these materials and teach others in the future. Every intern learned something new, even Gabrielle who organized it, and came away from it feeling more confident and prepared for any education event CRF™ might throw their way.




After a long year of being closed, the doors to our Exploration Center are finally open again! Come in and discover a visually stunning way to learn about our reefs without getting wet. Swing by the CRF Exploration Center, 5 Seagate Blvd in Key Largo,  for more information about how to get involved!


You can now participate in a fulfilling week at the Dumaguete Atlantis Dive Resort in The Philippines!


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.


"Heads Up" Editorial Intern

Growing up in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Gabrielle Rosenbacher has been passionate about wildlife conservation since she can remember. She became PADI certified at 10 years old in the Koh Pi Pi Islands in Thailand. Gabrielle received a BA in Environmental Studies - Ecology & Conservation from the University of Vermont. A semester of her studies was spent in the Turks & Caicos Islands at the School for Field Studies - Center for Marine Resource Studies, further growing her passion for marine conservation and diving. Following university, Gabrielle lived in the Canary Islands, where she received her Divemaster and PADI Instructor qualifications, as well as numerous specialty certifications. Since then, she led a non-profit marine conservation organization in Caye Caulker, Belize, as the project coordinator. Gabrielle would like to continue devoting her life to marine conservation and working with non-profit organizations.

"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.

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