Hands-on Experiential Education
One of the core components of the RJD Program is providing experiential learning opportunities to young adults. Tag a shark, plant a coral, measure a mangrove. The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program provides educational experiences to groups of high school students year-round. Your class will take an active role in real scientific projects, learn the scientific method, and assist in protecting threatened marine resources.
Students connect with marine science in an exciting, participatory setting, augmenting traditional classroom education. RJD scientists, staff, interns and volunteers serve as mentors and teachers during field trips. With a ratio of one mentor per every four students, RJD trips are personalized learning experiences.
Things you wouldn’t get inside a typical high school class are brought to our interest, in the most extraordinary way.
— Vilma Sooknanan
South Broward High School Student
While many students participating in these trips dream of becoming marine biologists, their experience with RJD often expands their career horizons within the field of marine conservation.
I have studied the scientific aspect of marine biology since the 6th grade, but one opportunity I have recently come across from shark research is as a marine photographer/videographer. Therefore, aside from gaining personal skills that help me in life, and benefiting the marine environment, I have been introduced into new career paths that I may take up in the future.
— Chelsea Currie
South Broward High School Student
National Ocean Science Bowl – Team President
- A: We do not coordinate directly with individual high school students. Instead, we work with high school groups, classes and clubs organized by the supervising teachers. So please talk to your teachers about organizing a group, and then have one of them contact us at RJD.Participate@gmail.com.
Our longest running outreach project is the shark research field experience. High schools from across South Florida partner with RJD to provide their students with a truly unique field trip, learning hands on from active shark scientists in the field.
Each school coordinates their schedule with RJD’s Lab Manager to arrange between one to five trips per year. The trips are chartered through Curt-A-Sea Aquatic Adventures in Islamorada, Florida, leaving at 8:30AM and returning around mid-afternoon.
Onboard, students learn from RJD Shark Researchers about the state of shark populations, why sharks are important to our oceans, how RJD research is answering key questions about ocean ecosystems, and how the research is conducted on these boat trips. Once the boat arrives at the designated fishing spot, one of five specified locations in the Florida Keys, the RJD interns not only begin deploying the fishing gear, but also include the high school students in the process. Even at the height of action, when the team catches a shark, the students are responsible for taking a variety of measurements and samples, under the attentive guidance of RJD scientists and interns. The whole day is an interactive, empowering, and rewarding experience.
- For more information about what to expect on these trips, please explore the Pre-Trip Information Page.
- We are currently still open to partnering with new high schools and organized outreach programs.
For an all-in-one, action-packed marine science field trip, RJD provides a two-day trip to the 63-acre, tropical private island of Broad Key. Students have the opportunity to experience South Florida’s marine ecosystems in their most pristine form under the guidance of scientists and educators.
Kayak and snorkel through mangroves, searching for their most charismatic species. Submerse yourself into a colorful underwater world of coral reefs teeming with tropical fish, taking digital snapshots of your favorite species. Come face-to-face with top marine predators in a shark research excursion, measuring, sampling and tagging these threatened species.
Learn first-hand from RJD marine scientists how important each of these ecosystems is to our world, and the inexorable links amongst them. This is a customizable experience not to be missed!
If your school or outreach program would like to join a Broad Key trip, please contact the RJD Lab Manager Catherine Macdonald at <CMacdonald@inbox.com>
In August 2011, the Upward Bound IMPACT Program joined RJD for this unforgettable adventure at Broad Key. See the video below for more about their experience.
- 2 Days
- Shark Research Excursion
- Coral Reef Snorkeling & Underwater Photography
- Mangrove Kayaking, Snorkeling, & Species Identification
- Evening Q&A with the Scientists