Mid Michigan College Receives NOAA Grant

NOAA Ocean Exploration and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation recently awarded twelve grants to help engage and inspire the next generation of ocean explorers by supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts related to ocean literacy and workforce development.

The DEIA Ocean Exploration Education Grants first launched in 2021 with the goal of advancing ocean exploration learning opportunities by investing in projects and partners that support the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) workforce development pipeline and engage diverse learners from communities that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in ocean science and exploration. These grants are for use by educators and/or education program implementers working at the intersection of STEAM education and DEIA to support the workforce development pipeline where barriers are most prohibitive to the recruitment and retention of diverse learners.

“All of us at Mid are excited to share that we, a small, rural college in Michigan, have received one of these grants,” shared Trish Finerty, Biology Instructor at Mid Michigan College. “We will use the grant funds to support the travel costs for twelve Mid students to travel to Belize in May. After they participate in the course, they will become Ocean Science Fellows and will be doing outreach projects in the community to bring awareness to others about the importance of the ocean and related ecosystems.”

This year, a total of twelve DEIA Ocean Exploration Education Grants were awarded up to $20,000 to fund their projects.

“Our teams were truly impressed by the innovative methods each project used to address many barriers limiting access and opportunities for youth from historically marginalized communities from entering ocean science and exploration careers,” said Allison Alexander, Vice President of Program Operations for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

“Mid students have limited exposure to the ocean and therefore do not see connections between their actions and the ocean ecosystem,” noted Finerty. “Our students encounter geographic, educational, and financial barriers that make careers in marine science hard to imagine as possibilities.”

Mid’s Marine Science in Belize study abroad course is an introductory course in marine science that includes an in-field, experiential learning opportunity to increase students’ ocean literacy and awareness of ocean careers. The course culminates with an outreach project where students will share their research and field experiences with a local community group to expand the reach and impact of this experience to a larger audience.

 “This grant offsets many costs, making this course more accessible to a wider range of Mid students,” shared Finerty. “I look forward to sharing this amazing experience with our students during the trip and with our communities upon our return.”

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