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MarineQuest Partners with WBE on Marine Science Program

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Twenty years ago, Ann “Cissie” Brooks founded a marine science program at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School. As she began planning for her retirement in spring 2021, Brooks reached out to Harris Muhlstein, MarineQuest School Programs Coordinator, to explore a collaboration that would ensure that the school’s nationally recognized marine science program would continue. Together, Muhlstein and Brooks planned a new partnership that is mutually beneficial: MarineQuest provides each grade with programs during the school year, and in turn has use of WBE’s pier, dock and covered outdoor spaces during the summer camp season.

“Cissie knew that MarineQuest could provide the expertise, curriculum, and hands-on teaching prowess so that her legacy would live on,” Muhlstein said. “Cissie was a powerhouse in marine science education and we are excited to continue providing her students with opportunities to explore, discover and value our marine habitats and encourage them to develop into environmentally responsible adults.”

In addition to providing continuity in the marine science curriculum for Wrightsville Beach students this year, the partnership gives MarineQuest access to WBE’s outdoor spaces for academic enrichment programs offered over the summer.

“The 2021 COVID summer had many unique logistical challenges for our team to overcome,” Muhlstein said. “We wanted to provide our students with access to all our normal field sites but wanted to minimize the time our students spent in busy/crowded areas. By establishing this partnership with WBE, our elementary-age students were able to utilize their pier, dock and covered outdoor spaces throughout the summer free of the distraction and safety concerns of our normal public sites.”

For many years, Wrightsville Beach students have participated in MarineQuest’s grant-based program initiatives including Traveling Through Trash, Ghost Net Busters, and Turtle Trash Collectors. A more formal collaboration began in 2019, after Hurricane Florence caused disruptions in WBE’s school-based program.

“After Hurricane Florence, WBE temporarily lost access to their pier, dock and marsh,” Muhlstein said.  “They reached out to us to help plan programs to bring relevancy back to their marine science curriculum.”

MarineQuest partnered with WBE to develop a unique curriculum of activities for each grade level aligned with the NC teaching standards. During the 2019-2020 school year, MQ hosted field trips for the entire school at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science. The program enabled students to explore marine science phenomena and make discoveries in the MQ laboratory classroom and out on the CMS pier and docks.

“Wrightsville Beach Elementary School shares our passion for providing marine science programming that engages young students,” Muhlstein said. “We are excited to build on our unique partnership with the school this year.”

For more information on MarineQuest School Programs, see our story, “MarineQuest Expands Coast-to-Classroom Program” or visit the MarineQuest website.

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