Updated: Sep 6, 2022
CRF™ EMPOWERS TEENS TO TAKE ACTION FOR OUR OCEANS
Periodically throughout the year, Coral Restoration Foundation™ hosts groups of high school students with the goal of fostering a generation of ocean stewards and conservationists with a specific focus on creating lasting impressions through a unique classroom environment, hands-on activities, and snorkeling or SCUBA excursions.
These 3-day programs include classroom discussions, hands-on labs, and field trips all led by our incredibly talented and knowledgeable team of interns! This past month we hosted 5 high-school programs bringing together students from all around the country to learn how they can help save coral reefs! One group made a splash with our Coral Crew, Travel for Teens!
The Travel for Teens group was greeted on day one by our interns Beth and Hayley, both of whom were excited to meet the students and share their passion for marine biology. They spent the day at our Exploration Center and dove straight into our curriculum providing a basic knowledge of coral reefs, threats to reefs, and restoration strategies! The day was packed full of 3 hands-on reef restoration activities, 2 ocean ecology experiments, and a classroom presentation. The basics were covered, and the students had a firm grasp on the mission of CRF™, so Beth and Hayley dove into more specific information about threats to coral reefs and led the students through 2 experiments to better understand the process and effects of ocean acidification. The students mixed various substances like baking powder, flour, salt, sugar, and chalk into water and identified which mixtures turned into true solutions. Part two of the experiment adds acid as a variable and demonstrates the effect of acidic oceans on limestone reefs. This experiment and many of the others these students completed are part of our free, downloadable activity packs which you can find here! Link to activity packs.
The second day of this program was our field trip day! Unsafe weather conditions pushed the students away from the reef and into the mangroves which just presented another learning opportunity in which our interns Hayley and Beth taught about the interconnection between mangrove habitats and coral reefs. Despite missing the reef, the students had a fun time experiencing the beauty of the mangroves, another incredibly important and unique aspect of the Florida Keys marine ecosystem.
After a fun filled field trip day our final day launched into a new Data Collection activity created by our intern Hayley! She gave a short presentation introducing important vocabulary and examples of data collection techniques, putting emphasis on how and why CRF™ collects data about our restoration sites. This presentation was then followed up by 2 activities, the first was a spin on pin the tail on the donkey aptly titled “return the coral to the reef” which demonstrated accuracy and precision. The second was an actual data collection challenge in which the students used a quadrat, data sheet, and model reef to replicate scientists calculating coral coverage in the field.
The goal of our education programs is to give students the tools to become ocean stewards and empower them to make a positive difference for reefs worldwide which is why we conclude each program with a discussion about why their choices matter, and how they can make an impact on the ocean in their hometowns.
Head's Up Editorial Intern
Thomas Ressa is a longtime saltwater aquarium hobbyist turned coral reef conservationist, Thomas completed his Masters of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation from UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography after a 10-year career working in tech at both Apple and Amazon. His transformation was fueled by a childhood vacation to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, where he recalls first falling in love with the abundance of life, colors, and the myriad of life-changing experiences interacting with a coral reef can provide. Thomas hopes that his experience at the Coral Restoration Foundation will not only advance his knowledge of coral reef ecology but support him in becoming a more profound voice for the community and the preservation of nature.
Coral Chronicles Editor
Madalen Howard is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. 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.