Protect Our Reefs Grant Program
MarineLab received approval for its Coral Reef Classroom for the school year 2011-2012! In 2010, we received two grants through the Protect our Reefs grant program. This grant program is administered by Mote Marine Lab and funded by the sale of the Protect Our Reefs Florida Specialty license plate
Coral Reef Classroom
The Coral Reef Classroom was a program sponsored by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the non profit organization Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys. For the past eight years, this program took local Monroe County middle and high school students out of their classroom and out to the coral reef. Although many families have boats and some children have already snorkeled the reef, there are many others who have never been to the reef, or know nothing about the ecology of the reef and the importance of good water quality to the overall ecosystem of the Keys. Since the entire economy of the Keys depends on a healthy ecosystem, this is an important message for these children and their families.
Due to budget cuts, the Sanctuary was unable to continue the program in 2010. MarineLab applied for, and was awarded, a grant to continue the Coral Reef Classroom during the spring of 2010 for the schools of the Upper Keys. This grant was funded by the Protect Our Reefs license plate program, which is administered by Mote Marine Lab. Students from Island Christian School, Key Largo School, Plantation Key School, and Coral Shores High School participated in water quality and reef ecology field studies last spring. MarineLab received funding to continue the program for the fall of 2011.
Water Quality Testing Equipment
MarineLab was awarded money to purchase water quality testing equipment for use in its education programs and to provide field data for the Southeast Environmental Research Center's Water Quality Network. Even when no students are present, MarineLab instructors go out on a regular basis and collect water quality data that is then used in both long term and short term research projects.