Despite the disruption of Covid-19, with the Cayman Islands remaining unavailable to international travellers, CCMI has continued delivering on its commitment to education and environmental action by securing funding to facilitate and deliver more than residential scholarships for programmes at the Little Cayman Research Centre in 2020.
CCMI’s Ocean Literacy education programme, which began with the Caribbean Marine Ecology Camp in 2007, has a strong commitment to local students within the Cayman Islands, linking the institute’s marine research findings to real time, relevant education opportunities for primary to tertiary level students.
In 2007, a 10-year grant from the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation enabled CCMI to begin their residential education programme in earnest, providing students the opportunity to stay at a working marine research station, living alongside scientists who are researching some of the most pressing issues facing coral reefs today.
This year, thanks to funding from Foster’s, Cayman National Bank, R3, the BODA Charitable Trust, as well as a renewed Edmund F. and Virginia. B Ball
Foundation grant, CCMI will be able to deliver their Marine Ecology Camps (MEC), Young Environmental Leadership Course (YELC), and newly developed (2018) Ocean Science Scholar Internships. Delivery of the courses began over the summer, and CCMI will complete the scholarship schedule by December 2020, as planned, despite global disruption.
Whilst the organization has had to make significant changes at the Little Cayman Research Centre to accommodate increased social distancing, the low levels of Covid-19 in Cayman and the permitted travel between Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, the team are pleased to be able to continue their scholarship deliverables in the local community.
CCMI’s Director of Research, Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, outlines why the focus on local scholarships is so important to CCMI:
“At a time when pressure on biodiversity is being felt by us all, coupled with the recent announcement by the UN that the world has failed to achieve any of the 2010 climate goals outlined in the Aitchi targets, it is paramount that we continue to work towards protecting coral reefs and promote a healthy marine environment for our future social, economic, and ecological wellbeing.
At CCMI, we believe the link between research and education is critical to these efforts. Our current study surveying the ‘quiet oceans’ to see what impact reduced tourism is having on our reefs bridges this gap through applied research with real world impact that will result in significant educational content. Engaging Caymanian students with this research, as well our work on restoration and ecological adaptation, enables us to combine incredibly topical and important marine research with local education. Real conservation begins with understanding what we are striving to protect. We strongly believe that every young Caymanian should have the opportunity to learn about the marine environment that surrounds them. Providing scholarships is key to achieving this goal.”
As one of the R3 scholars to attend a one-week residential programme with CCMI in August as an Ocean Science Scholar, Jovian and had this to say about the experience, "(The course) changes how you look at the world and how much humans have affected it."
Whilst CCMI has had to amend courses and reduce the capacity to host 16+ class sizes, the team is on target to deliver a busy year for local ocean literacy activity. Several scholarships are still available for programmes that will take place before the end of the calendar year.
Teachers for years 5 and 6 in government schools are currently encouraged to apply for a fully-funded 3-day Marine Ecology Course for their classes. Two classes from across the Cayman Islands will be awarded the scholarships for this experience courtesy of BODA Trust. Applications for classes to be considered are being accepted through 14 October 2020.
In addition, CCMI is seeking up to six Caymanian students for the YELC programme, which is supported by Foster’s and Cayman National. This programme is for students ages 15-19, and it focuses on creating enthusiastic ambassadors for the ocean. During the programme, participants will receive dive certifications; they will then spend a week in Little Cayman at CCMI to put their new diving skills to practice, continue learning about marine science, and work on building a resume while also practicing important interview skills. The deadline to apply for this programme is Monday, 5 October 2020.
For more information about CCMI, the YELC opportunity, and other education programmes available at CCMI, visit www.reefresearch.org or email email@example.com.