CCMI offers academic scholarships for teenagers interested in ocean science

Central Caribbean Marine Institute interns learn in the field. - Photo: Submitted

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute is investing in the future.

The organization has developed and funded academic scholarships for youth as young as 14, giving them the opportunity to gain experience with CCMI until they graduate from university.

The Ocean Science Scholars program includes two internship awards per year for students about to embark on their degree studies in a related ocean science field, and five more annual scholarships for the Marine Ecology Camp for 14 to 18-year-olds, held each summer.

The internships are being funded via a three-year grant the CCMI secured from the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, which was set up to support young local scientists, CCMI said in a press release.

Kate Holden, CCMI advancement director, said the new funding is crucial for identifying local students with a talent and passion for ocean science at the beginning of their academic careers, offering them a pathway right through to graduation.

“Most importantly, these courses are free, and the internship award includes a stipend and room and board, so the financial aspect of studying with us in Little Cayman isn’t a barrier,” she said.

“What is different is we are putting a stronger focus on academic achievement and we have the awards funded by one amazing foundation, so we can provide sustainability across the program, as well as providing a mentorship framework for students who need our support in the early stages of their science careers,” Ms. Holden said.

CCMI has run marine ecology courses in local schools for grades 5-7 as part of their commitment to ocean literacy. The organization also runs the Marine Ecology Camp and internships.

Its first multi-year grant from the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation came in 2007 to support the camp, which has engaged hundreds of local students during their summer break.

Local scientist Kelly Forsythe has been working with CCMI for the last four months.

She said the Ocean Science Scholars program fosters an interest in marine science in youth.

“Working for CCMI here in Little Cayman has been transformative for my career as a marine scientist but also as a local of the Cayman Islands,” she said.

“During my time here, I have been gifted with the opportunities to observe some of the world’s best reefs right here on my doorstep, and to work on research projects that have challenged my existing outlook and allowed me to adapt and learn as a researcher. As an early-career scientist I would encourage all individuals who are interested in marine science to intern with CCMI, as you will gain the necessary skills to further your scientific career.

“The lessons you’ll learn, marine creatures you’ll see and the people you’ll meet will all be unique experiences that can only be found here in Little Cayman.”

For more information on CCMI’s Ocean Science Scholars, see their Facebook page www.facebook.com/reefresearch and CCMI’s website, www.reefresearch.org.

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