Six high school students who want to pursue a career in the dive industry completed a two-week marine training course in Little Cayman last Sunday.
The Young Environmental Leadership Course, which originated in 2012, is designed to offer marine industry training to Caymanian high school students ages 16 to 18.
“All students participating in YELC have an interest in pursuing careers in the dive industry, or other water-based industries such as marine biology, boat mechanics and even underwater photography,” said Jade Arch, outreach coordinator at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute.
At the start of the program, students completed open water advanced and emergency first response training in Grand Cayman with Go Pro Diving company on May 4, and then headed to Little Cayman on Aug. 10.
The young divers stayed at the Little Cayman Research Centre to complete the rest of their training, where they learned about marine conservation theory, tourism, and the current threats to the environment.
“If we are to protect the environment and work towards a sustainable Cayman for future generations, it is vital that we encourage young Caymanians to pursue careers in these fields. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders and policy makers,” said Ms. Arch.
To learn about the importance of science and how it contributes to the management of the local environment, students interacted with the Little Cayman Research Centre researchers and scientists.
“I liked YELC because it helped me improve my dive skills and to appreciate underwater more. CCMI gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about marine biology, the different types of fish and corals and why they are important,” said Keanu McLean, 16.
“I would definitely suggest the other kids take part in the course next year. I benefited a lot and now want to have a career in marine biology.”
By the end of the two weeks, the six young divers also completed rescue diver level training, which includes emergency first response. Now, students have the option to enroll in the PADI professional development course with Go Pro Diving for free.
A past participant of the course, Julian Smith, 17, said the dive training helped him land a full-time job with Red Sail Sports.
“CCMI helped me get me certification in dive and it actually got me a full-time job … Thanks to CCMI for setting my career,” Mr. Smith said in an email.
“…It gives you an awesome experience about the marine life and how you can prevent destroying the reefs, and it could set their career like how it settled my career at Red Sail,” he added.
The course is sponsored by Foster’s Food Fair and is offered to Caymanian students from government secondary schools. Students at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre will receive help in finding marine-related work experience placements, organizers said.