Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is pleased to announce a three-year strategic partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
With a grant of $150,000, Mote will launch Ocean Guardians, a new program designed to increase access to STEM education for underrepresented and underserved students in Sarasota County. The grant will also support several donor and member engagement events during the grant period.
Through Ocean Guardians, local students will have opportunities to build the knowledge, confidence, and skill needed to become career-ready and to consider careers in STEM. Throughout the academic year, Ocean Guardians will participate in an after-school program with hands-on educational and interactive activities that build upon Mote research and are facilitated by Mote educators.
The goal is for participating Guardians to increase their science literacy, develop positive attitudes toward science, gain a basic understanding of available careers in STEM, and deepen their appreciation of marine and coastal environments. All programming supports the five C’s of 21st century career readiness, which are communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and character. Program activities include exploring the local marine environments through kayaking and dip netting in Sarasota Bay as well as learning about marine animals and marine taxonomy through various methods including squid and shark dissections. Guardians will also learn to fly drones much like those used by Mote’s Manatee Research team to conduct aerial manatee identification surveys, and will learn how such studies provide vital data that help local and county officials manage manatees – and other wildlife - in ways that balance human activities and the sustainability of marine animals and their habitat.
Summer stipends are a critical program component as they help to ensure the full participation of students who might otherwise need to obtain summer employment.
The Ocean Guardians program serves as an example of Mote’s commitment to supporting community-focused engagement in science.
Mote’s Education Department provides STEM education through a wide variety of on-campus, regional outreach, and virtual education programs. This grant will allow Mote to take its science programming directly to underserved and underrepresented audiences after school and during the summer at regional organizations. During this inaugural year of the program, Mote is partnering with students and teachers at Booker High School with hopes to expand the program to other organizations in the future.