KURE BEACH, NC (WECT) – About a dozen students from New Hanover County high schools are spending their Saturday mornings ankle deep in marsh mud, cleaning trash along the Cape Fear River and weighing bait fish to feed crabs.
The students travel together to the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher each weekend in the spring to develop their science, technology, engineering and math skills through the Coastal Champions program, according to a news release from the Aquarium. The program is reportedly in its second year and receives funding from Connect a Million Minds.
Gabriela Gutierrez participates in the program, which recently included a group hike to the salt marsh and a boat cruise up the Cape Fear River to witness the environmental impact of trash on the waterway.
“I enjoy every second I have been here,” said Gutierrez in a news release. “I love the ocean and it is a great opportunity to help and learn at the same time.”
Aquarium educators work side-by-side with the students, who attend New Hanover High and Laney High.
“We work hard to vary the experiences the students have and give them maximum exposure to STEM concepts,” stated Jennifer Metzler-Fiorino, education curator at the Aquarium. “The Coastal Champions program cultivates an interest in marine science and offers ‘wow’ moments every week for the students.”