Pictured are: Anne Marie Bufford, Nathan Ollis, Naomi Gladney, Dr. Dean Grubbs, Kenna Heitman and Kelly Cullen
This past summer three Elsberry Students took part in the World Aquarium Aquatic and Marine Science Institute (WAAMSI).
Anne Marie Bufford, Nathan Ollis and Naomi Gladney along with 12 other students from across the greater St. Louis area were selected for this exciting introduction to marine biology.
After spending six classroom Saturdays at the World Aquarium during the spring, the students explored the northern Gulf of Mexico at Florida State University Coastal Marine Labs as well as St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Fl. Highlights of the Institute included a shark lecture by leading shark biologist and frequent Shark Week contributor Dr. Dean Grubbs, Tours at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, NOAA, a sea turtle lecture and encounter and Gulf World, which included a dolphin lecture and encounter).
Participants practiced several methods to collect and identify fish and collected data as part of a longitudinal biodiversity research study. Participants were awarded a scholarship that paid the entire cost of the trip. Bufford participated in the program last year and was asked to return as a peer leader.
Ollis was chosen from this year’s participants to return next summer in the same capacity. All participants were honored at a banquet on Sunday, Sept. 29 at the Frontenac Hilton where they received a certificate of participation and a medal.
Elsberry High School science teacher, Kenna Heitman is an instructor of the institute, along with co-teacher Kelly Cullen.
According to Heitman, “Elsberry students really make us proud when we participate in any university activities. Each year, we have had at least one student who has been invited back as a peer leader.”
For five years, the World Aquarium has provided a top-notch program and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at no cost whatsoever to the students. Our past participants include biology majors at the University of Hawaii, University of California Santa Barbara and Colorado State.