In 2014, Dr. Rossi was in The Bahamas investigating a mangrove die-off on the island of Abaco, when she discovered a fungus was infecting the mangroves. She worked with a Bahamian non-profit organization, Friends of the Environment, to expand her study area and look for the fungal pathogen in healthy mangrove forests. But there were only so many mangrove leaves she could look at on her own. She dreamed of enlisting local school children to study fungal pathogens, participating in a citizen-science program and learning new skills in the process.
In 2017, that dream became a reality through a partnership with Friends of the Environment and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. Together, they developed a mangrove disease curriculum and citizen science program for high school students in Abaco. The organizations then incorporated the curriculum into their existing Mangrove Outreach & Education programs in The Bahamas and Jamaica, bringing this citizen science program to high school science classrooms in both countries. Now, with funding from the National Geographic Society, we will expand this citizen-science program across the Caribbean and develop new curriculum to engage the next generation of ocean scientists. We are thrilled to form partnerships with new organization and schools and look forward to working with them to make new discoveries about diseases that threaten our mangrove forests.
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) is a US-based nonprofit organization established to help preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans and marine resources through research, outreach, and education. The foundation works to provide science-based solutions to ocean conservation and management through on-the-ground programs involving ecological restoration, education and training, outreach, and the development of sustainable approaches to manage marine resources.
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) is a consortium of marine scientists across more than two dozen member institutions who partner to find solutions to problems facing coastal Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico, and ocean ecosystems at large. LUMCON’s mission is to promote, facilitate, and conduct research and education collaborations among Louisiana’s universities in marine and coastal sciences relevant to the sustainability of coastal and marine environments of the Gulf of Mexico.
Friends of the Environment (FRIENDS) is a small community non-profit organization based in Abaco, Bahamas. FRIENDS was established in 1988 out of concern by local residents regarding unsustainable use of marine resources. FRIENDS’ mission is to preserve the environment of Abaco through education, conservation, and research facilitation. FRIENDS places a large focus on student education, encouraging environmental awareness and involvement in science in order to help foster the next generation of eco-conscious citizens.
The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters and is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection in partnership with NOAA. Its mission is to provide a basis for informed stewardship of estuaries in Southwest Florida through research and education.