Our education and leadership programs provide hands-on educational experiences for students, teachers and faculty that are nationally recognized for fostering a better understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. The Foundation works with schools to increase awareness, understanding and stewardship of the Gulf. Supplementing classroom curricula with engaging, hands-on activities inspires students to learn about conserving the Gulf and its waterways while encouraging them to protect the environment.
Featured Project: Youth Career Training
Taking teachers out in the field to observe, explore, investigate, and collaborate has been an effective and popular Foundation program. Aboard the M/V Fling, participants receive instruction from scientists and environmental educators, dive or paddle ashore to practice sampling and data collection, and gather back on board for collaborative discussions. Teachers and environmental educators consistently report returning to their students inspired and full of new ideas. During 26 expeditions since 1996, 459 educators have been trained impacting over 500,000 students.
A 2-day Corals to Classrooms workshop is followed by three days of diving the coral reefs of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which harbors the northernmost coral reefs in the continental US, providing habitat for a variety of fish, turtles, and sharks. Participants return to their classrooms filled with innovative ideas for teaching biology, oceanography, geology, physical science, government, and environmental science. For information on the 2016 DUOY click here.
Participants cruise the estuaries of coastal Texas by way of the Intracoastal Waterway for five days. Along the way, they stop to explore diverse habitats as they learn about the natural and human threats to our living coast. Educators of all levels walk away from this experience with new knowledge and skills for educating students about coastal ecology, economy, and geography. For information about the 2016 IWWE click here.
The Gulf of Mexico Foundation’s Habitat Restoration Technology Training Center offers an introductory course in coastal habitat restoration to young adults aspiring to enter this emerging green jobs sector. Drawing upon the strong partnership network developed over 24 years managing habitat restoration projects in the Gulf, the Foundation developed Essentials of Coastal Habitat Restoration. Working with Galveston Community College, the Texas Conservation Corps, and a long list of agency and private partners, the course is made available free of charge in Galveston, Texas. The Texas Conservation Corps provides youth and young adults opportunities to gain work experience through hands-on conservation service projects. Through a combination of classroom and field exercises, the students engage one-on-one with professionals who cover evaluation of restoration needs, project design, permitting, field planning and implementation, and monitoring. Students see technical presentations that use real restoration projects as examples. Later in the week they tour some of those sites accompanied by members of the project implementation teams. The applied, hands-on nature of the experience provides a rich, meaningful experience as does the focus on careers. Presenters frame their presentations in terms of what habitat restoration is, who does that work, and how to prepare for it. The Foundation and its partners are working to expand this popular program as unprecedented restoration projects are ramping up in the Gulf. For more information about this program, contact Mike Smith.