Programme helps train young Caymanians to be skilled and enthusiastic environmental ambassadors
For the tenth year, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) will offer scholarships for selected participants to attend the Young Environmentalist Leadership Course (YELC). This programme is for local high school students and recent graduates, ages 15-19, and a maximum of six applicants will be selected to participate in the programme this year.
Applications for this intensive two-month programme are currently being accepted by CCMI through 11th June 2021. In past years, participants have come primarily from John Gray High School, Clifton Hunter High School and the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre, with more students applying to the programme each year due to the growing interest in and the recognition of YELC within the Cayman Islands. Interested students must first apply to CCMI then participate in an interview process. Successful applicants will begin the programme with their dive training in Grand Cayman in early July; the course concludes with a 10-day experience at the Little Cayman Research Centre with CCMI’s research and education professionals.
Started in 2012, YELC was created to provide an opportunity for local students to continue their educational pathway in the marine sciences. During the first part of the programme, YELC participants complete their PADI Open Water Grand Cayman with Go Pro Diving. From 11th – 21st August, students attend a 10-day immersive, hands-on experience at the Little Cayman Research Centre. During that time, they will continue their dive training for Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver certifications, work on field projects, take part in night dives, lionfish dissections, CV workshops, mock job interviews, and assist with CCMI’s ongoing research.
The YELC programme was created to build skilled and enthusiastic environmental ambassadors while bridging an important gap for local students that may not have access to post-school education in the Cayman Islands. Participants complete the course, leaving with tangible dive and emergency first responder qualifications, as well as real-life, skills-based experience that not only helps guide them in the future but also provides excellent references for CVs and interviews with potential educators or employers. Now that the programme has successfully run for nine years, CCMI is seeing YELC alumni flow into professional roles in the dive tourism and environmental science fields. CCMI continues to connect with YELC alumni to see how participants use the course as a step in their career path with the aim of ensuring the curriculum continues to offer skills and experiences useful to the participants beyond the YELC progamme.
Sponsored by Foster’s and Cayman National Bank, the YELC programme has supported more than 85 students on their journey to learning about the marine environment while also helping to develop important soft skills that will serve participants well in any career path they choose.
Further information can be found on CCMI’s website (www.reefresearch.org); the application can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/YELC2021. Students who are interested in participating in the programme should complete and submit their application materials to CCMI’s education department at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than end of day on 11th June 2021.
For more information about CCMI, the YELC opportunity, and other education programmes available at CCMI, visit www.reefresearch.org.