New College of Florida Completes SBEP Bay Partners Grant Project
New College of Florida recently completed a summer program that helped 17 local high school students learn more about the scientific method, critical thinking and the relationship between Sarasota Bay and human health. The Push Success Program, under the guidance of Sandra Gilchrist, PhD, focused on local habitat and aquatic life. The project also included support of the Pooches for the Planet Education Program designed to reduce pet waste bacteria from entering local water bodies.
The unique science program was supported by a Bay Partners Grant provided by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP). SBEP is one of the 28 national estuary programs in the U.S.
As part of the Push Success Program, students met over a three week period to learn about field collection techniques, scientific writing, the protocol for creating graphs, interpreting graphs, how to create microscope slides, the proper use of the microscope, and the use of online data sets. Development of leadership skills and conflict management were incorporated into the curriculum.
Special projects included an analysis of collected beach trash; wound healing of corals; the study of seagrass and oyster habitat; ocean acidification experiments to demonstrate how humans can affect the oceans unintentionally; the impact of pollutants on aquatic species; and the relationship between aquatic life and human nutrition. Participating students made a final presentation to family members and program staff to demonstrate their new knowledge.
Individuals supporting Dr. Gilchrist on the completion of the project included Stephanie Sherman, David Jaliman, Madelaine Verbeek, Stephanie Hefner, Kate McManus, Susan Morin, and managers with Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center.
The purpose of the SBEP Bay Partners Grant Program is to promote environmental education, awareness and stewardship that benefit Sarasota Bay and its tributaries. Funding is available for local projects that focus on Bay education, Bay restoration or Bay-friendly landscaping. SBEP has awarded more than $213,000 in support of 109 local grants since 2003. A subcommittee with the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) evaluates applications for full or partial grants.
Applications for the next fiscal year must be received at the SBEP offices by 4pm on Friday, March 1, 2013 to be eligible. Applications can be downloaded from the SBEP website at sarasotabay.org. The SBEP website also provides specific ideas for various projects. Inquires are welcome at email@example.com.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is dedicated to restoring the area's greatest natural asset—Sarasota Bay. Its unique program strives to improve water quality, increase habitat and enhance the natural resources of the area for use and enjoyment by the public. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the United States that have been named by the U.S. Congress as an "estuary of national significance." Partners include Sarasota County, Manatee County, City of Sarasota, City of Bradenton, Town of Longboat Key, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.