Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary staff has invited educators from around the country to get out of their classrooms and into the Gulf of Mexico for two five-day underwater exploration workshops entitled "Down Under, Out Yonder." The sanctuary, which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, partners with the non-profit Gulf of Mexico Foundation to organize this popular annual event. The event consists of an introductory workshop from July 7-11 and an alumni workshop from July 21-25 for returning participants.
"Our goal for the workshops is to offer teachers firsthand experience with exploration and research," said Shelley DuPuy, Flower Garden Banks sanctuary education coordinator. “You cannot find that kind of background in a textbook. Not only do the teachers get hands-on training, they get to interact with educators from around the country and exchange ideas that result in new classroom dynamics. This has a direct impact on the students, and that is what is most important."
During the classroom session, the 18 participants will be given a crash course in coral reef biology and ecology. They will use those new skills during a three-day cruise to the sanctuary hosted by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation. While underwater, the teachers will count fish and other animals and conduct general observations on the coral reef environment. Scuba dives will be conducted from a 100-foot converted oil and gas crew boat equipped for diving.
"The most valuable part of this workshop is the curriculum the educators will develop based upon what they learn,” said Kelly Drinnen, education specialist and organizer of the annual workshop. “These teachers are training tomorrow’s leaders in science and technology.”
The participants in the two 2007 "Down Under, Out Yonder" workshops include:
Introductory Workshop July 7-11
John Andrews Barton Creek Elementary, Austin, Tex.
Esat Atikkan Montgomery College, Rockville, Md.
Morgan Benton Greenwood Intermediate School, Midland, Tex.
Keith Burns Pulaski Middle School, New Britain, Conn.
Randall Colton Weston Elementary, Schofield, Wis.
J. Michael Condie Inside the Outdoors, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Pete Frischmann Winchester Thurston School, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Gerald Glasser Jesuit High School, Carmichael, Calif.
Brian Hawkins NASA Aerospace Education Services Program, Moffett Field, Calif.
Larry Hurst Catlin Gabel School, Portland, Ore.
Paul Shipman Dishman Elementary, Beaumont, Tex.
Monica Spillane Marlboro High School, Marlboro, N.J.
Eva St. Onge Bradwell Institute, Hinesville, Ga.
Vashisht Yennu-Nanda M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Tex.
Alumni Workshop July 21-25
Mike Dean Waller High School, Waller, Tex.
Kelley Ferguson Paris High School, Paris, Tex.
Susan Finlen Scuba Instructor, Schuyler, Va.
Janene Fowler McCullough Junior High, The Woodlands, Tex.
George Hanks Volunteer Instructor, Houston, Tex.
Matthew Horrigan San Francisco State University, San Francisco, Calif.
Connie Kassner Cameron Park Zoo, Waco, Tex.
Denise Martin Science Resource Center, Houston, Tex.
Thomas Oglin Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park, Dallas, Tex.
Joe Watson Riverwood Middle School, Kingwood, Tex.
Steve Winebaugh Riverwood Middle School, Kingwood, Tex.
Located in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary includes three separate areas, known as East Flower Garden, West Flower Garden, and Stetson banks. The sanctuary was designated in 1992, and Stetson Bank was added to the sanctuary in 1996. The Flower Garden and Stetson banks harbor the northernmost coral reefs in the continental United States and serve as regional reservoirs of shallow-water reef fishes and invertebrates.
NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, which manages the Monterey Bay sanctuary, seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Internet:
NOAA's National Ocean Service
NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Gulf of Mexico Foundation