Lead instructors Chris Searles (front in blue cap) and Ernie Franklin (back in blue cap) teach and mentor the 2021 Youth Diving With a Purpose group continuing to learn about marine archeology and support Biscayne National Park.

Lead instructors Chris Searles (front in blue cap) and Ernie Franklin (back in blue cap) teach and mentor the 2021 Youth Diving With a Purpose group continuing to learn about marine archeology and support Biscayne National Park.

In a coincidence of timing, last week the article, “Fun and Beauty Beneath the Waves”, talked about the enjoyment of scuba diving and also mentioned volunteer opportunities.

The organization, Diving With a Purpose (DWP) and Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP), periodically brings adult and youth members to Key Largo and Biscayne National Park to assist with different programs.

Their application process for two important summer 2022 adventures is currently open. “DWP is seeking applications from minority youth and adults to receive hands-on professional experience with coral restoration and maritime cultural heritage!”

During their sessions in 2019 (pre-COVID), team members learned about and assisted with coral restoration efforts in Key Largo and underwater archeology in mapping a shipwreck in Biscayne National Park.

Kramer Wimberley, Lead Instructor, provided an update that includes a new initiative.

“Since the last time we engaged YDWP has grown immensely.  Our program has continued working with the National Park Service in Biscayne as well as the Submerged Cultural Resource Center training our youth to recognize not only the beauty of our National Parks but coming even closer to discovering the final resting place of the Slaveship Guererro. YDWP has been able to expand our reach to include a regular contingent of youth from the Caribbean and Costa Rica.  We have certified dozens more participants as citizen scientists/archeology advocates and created several new youth program instructors with the help of a phenomenal team of adult mentors and chaperones. When Covid-19 almost prevented our program from having a classroom setting, the South Dade Chamber of Commerce stepped in and provided us with space to run our classes. 

Since our last engagement YDWP has developed the CARES (Collective Approach to Restoring our Eco-System) program to address the issue of climate change and the decline of our coral ecosystem; a significant issue facing the Florida Reef Tract. 

Participants are trained in species identification and monitoring as well as remediation, out-planting and debris removal. We are partnered with NOAA-FKNMS (Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary) and the 7 Iconic Reefs Initiative as well as Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). 

Participants learn about key indicator fish, invertebrate and coral species associated with a healthy ecosystem and collect data on the absence or existence of those species in the areas of concern.”

The deadline for summer applications Adult and CARES Youth is Tuesday January 18, 2022 by 11:59 p.m.

Virtual Modules will be held Jan 22 - May 28, 2022 and field work in Key Largo will be July 24-31, 2022.

To apply, go to https://divingwithapurpose.org/programs/ or contact Kramer Wimberley for CARES; kramer.wimberley@divingwithapurpose.org and Ernie Franklin for YDWP; ernie.franklin@divingwithapurpose.org

The DWP Mission Statement: “Diving with a Purpose (DWP) is a 501c3 organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of submerged heritage resources by providing education, training, certification and field experience to adults and youth in the fields of maritime archaeology and ocean conservation. Our special focus is the protection, documentation and interpretation of African slave trade shipwrecks and the maritime history and culture of African-Americans who formed a core of labor and expertise for America’s maritime enterprises.”

To learn more about their history and the range of programs- https://divingwithapurpose.org/

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