September 25, 2020

Cayman Islands: CCMI offers internships for teenage ocean scientists

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September 18, 2018

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute () has recently secured a three-year grant to support young local students who are interested in the ocean sciences.

The new programme, funded by the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, includes two internship awards per year for students about to embark on their degree studies in a relevant discipline.

In addition, five scholarships will be available annually for the Marine Ecology Camp for 14-18 year olds, held each summer.

As part of their commitment to Ocean Literacy, CCMI has run Marine Ecology Courses for many years via local schools for grades 5-7. The organisation received its first multi-year grant in 2007 from the foundation for the Caribbean Marine Ecology Camp, which over the last 10 years has supported hundreds of local students during their summer break.

This is the first time the organisation has developed and funded academic scholarships that aim to identify young talent at 14 and offer them the opportunity to keep gaining experience with CCMI until they graduate from university.

CCMI advancement director, Kate Holden, said the new funding is crucial for identifying local students.

She said, “The latest development in our education offering for local students will ensure scholars with a talent and passion for ocean science are being identified at the beginning of their academic careers and offered a pathway right through to graduate level.”

“We have had Marine Ecology Camp scholarships in the past, as well as internships – 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 programme, as well as providing a mentorship framework for students who need our support in the early stages of their science careers.”

“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 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.

CCMI will continue to support a focus on primary level education via residential courses in Little Cayman and the Reefs Go Live programme that teaches students in their classrooms from under the ocean. However, the organisation  “felt it was time to cement the offering to students who are taking important certifications at secondary and tertiary level”.

Local scientist 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.

Recruitment for CCMI’s Ocean Science Scholars is now underway. For more information go to the CCMI Facebook page or news page on its website.

IMAGES: Supplied

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