National Marine Sanctuaries
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#24 2002
Hablo Conservation: Engaging Multi-Cultural Communities

The Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans (MERITO) initiative was established by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2002, then adopted by Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in 2005 to raise awareness of ocean issues among the fast growing multicultural population of California. This award-winning initiative has engaged over 2 million multicultural individuals in Central and Southern California. The content and messages are interdisciplinary and culturally inclusive by connecting individuals' daily lives (regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic status) with environmental issues affecting watersheds, coasts, and the ocean.

MERITO built on earlier efforts. In 1987, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary established the Los Marineros program in partnership with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to empower 5th grade students to preserve and protect the oceans of the world. Soon after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the Ocean for Life program was created to bring together students of diverse backgrounds and cultures for a two-week summer science camp to discover how the ocean connects everyone. The most recent example is the 2011 launch of the Voyage to Discovery project, a multimedia educational initiative highlighting African-American contributions to the country's maritime heritage while fostering increased participation in marine careers and ocean conservation.

Our nation has been shaped by a history of immigration and the contributions made by many different cultures, a trend that continues today. For many of those immigrants, Ellis Island was both the end of a long journey to reach America and the beginning of their new American lives. Learn more about Ellis Island.

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