Coral Restoration Foundation x SeaSmart Interview
On July 2, several of the Coral Restoration Foundation interns had the opportunity to take part in SeaSmart’s Ocean Conservation Online Intensive, presenting to a group of middle and high school students during their summer camp program. CRF™ took some time to talk to one of those presenters, Bailey Thomasson, about the SeaSmart program she participated in and how her presentations went.
Can you begin by telling us a little bit about what SeaSmart is?
SeaSmart is an amazing nonprofit organization that aims at inspiring the next generation of ocean stewards. Their summer programs are for students who are interested in learning more about the state of our oceans and scuba diving. Though they could not hold the normal in-person summer camp this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they offered a week-long virtual camp for their participants and highlighted a new topic about ocean conservation each day.
And what did you present about?
We presented to 25 super smart middle and high school students! We spoke with them about what corals are, why they are important to our oceans, what challenges they are facing, and how Coral Restoration Foundation™ is helping restore reef ecosystems. We even did several edutainment workshops with them, including one where they made their own coral polyps out of marshmallows and Twizzlers! I was also able to test drive my stereoscope with them to show them an ultra zoomed-in view of coral anatomy.
The stereoscope is actually a personal internship project of yours, isn’t it? What sparked that idea, and what direction do you plan to take it?
Yes! My intern project is dedicated to creating slides and samples that can be looked at under the scope. I want to highlight the tiny parts of corals that people often can’t see with the naked eye, including corallites and zooxanthellae. Corals are such delicate animals, and I believe that understanding their intricacies will help us preserve and protect them! I hope to continue creating samples and to have it stationed in our public Exploration Center for guests to use.
Do you believe that reaching out to younger generations to talk about ocean conservation is important?
Absolutely. The work that we do here at Coral Restoration Foundation™ is amazing, but we must inspire the next generation to take action and make changes in order for our reefs to begin healing on their own. Speaking to groups like SeaSmart’s summer camp is an incredible way to inspire that change and get them involved in marine conservation efforts from home.
Bailey and CRF™ did an outstanding job educating and engaging with a new wave of up and coming ocean conservationists. The education program at CRF™ is essential to inspiring and educating others to protect our oceans and the critical marine ecosystems within them like coral reefs.