Haiti Ocean Project Recognized By US State Department
WDCS is pleased to announce that one of its partner programs, The Haiti Ocean Project has been recognized by the US State Department’s Doors to Diplomacy initiative. The awards recognize web projects that best teach young people about the importance of international affairs and diplomacy. Participants, ranging in age from 11 to 18, included 225 student teams from 38 countries.
The Haiti Ocean Project, an outgrowth of the WDCS-sponsored Pier2Pier program, was launched in February 2009 as a multinational initiative between educators, field researchers and non-profit organizations in the US, Dominican Republic and Haiti. The goals of the Project are to document, raise awareness and promote the protection of marine mammals in Haiti; facilitate cooperation and support for Haitian environment ministries; conduct educational outreach to students and local communities; conduct educational outreach to students and local communities; and develop ecotourism involving whale and dolphin watching.
In 2007, while teaching journalism at Plantation High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, WDCS Haiti coordinator Jamie Aquino and her students developed a website for the Pier2Pier initiative, an awareness campaign to help protect wild dolphins and manatees. The website contained information about the species and some of the initiatives underway. In May of 2008, the Pier2Pier website was named one of the top two grand prize winners in the international Doors to Diplomacy competition, sponsored by Global SchoolNet and the US State Department.
Last year, Jamie transferred to the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, a small charter school focusing on maritime related careers and activities. She introduced her students to one of our Pier2Pier initiatives, the Haiti Ocean Project, which involves marine education, research and ecotourism. In December of 2011, her new students developed a website for the Haiti Ocean Project. The team consisted of two students in Florida (Samantha and Chris), plus two boys in Haiti (Mendy and Shadrack) who are involved with the project.
The award will allow Jamie to bring one of her Florida students to Haiti at the end of the June, and continue her work with Haitian kids involved with the project, and who will finally get to ride on the Haiti Ocean Project pontoon boat, which is being shipped to Haiti from West Palm Beach in the next week. The boat will become the floating classroom for the kids in Haiti, many of whom have never been out on the water in their entire lives!