MERITO Professional Development and College Internships
This program addresses the need for increased professional development opportunities for Hispanic-serving teachers focused on marine science and increased paid-internship opportunities for Hispanic undergraduate and graduate level students.
MERITO Watershed Academy Teacher Training
Each year, MERITO offers watershed and ocean focused professional development opportunities for teachers and youth leaders from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The training is offered to schools and extended-learning programs participating in the Watershed Academy After-school Program. The objectives of the MERITO Teacher Training include:
- Educate participants about the pedagogical tools necessary to provide culturally diverse and underrepresented students with “meaningful” experiences in nature.
- Train participants how to implement hands-on field and in-class activities in after-school Watershed Academy programs utilizing the MERITO Watershed Activity Guide.
- Provide participants with the resources and community contacts needed to incorporate locally relevant watershed and ocean issues into public education and extended-learning programs.
- Support participants during Watershed Academy field and in-class activities through the use of local experts, scientists, and MERITO staff and interns.
- Provide students with the knowledge to understand the land-sea connection, so they may contribute to the protection of our special coastal and marine resources and have the confidence to pursue higher education and careers in science and related fields.
During the 3-day intensive workshop, teachers and after-school program leaders receive instruction on real world application of hands-on field and in-class watershed, estuarine and marine science activities as they relate to Monterey Bay watersheds and the sanctuary.
Watershed Academy Workshop participants learn sand crab monitoring
These activities are drawn from MERITO Watershed Academy Activity Guide, a unique and innovative guide adapted to specific local environments, aligned with 5th-8th grade California State Standards science, language arts, and English language development. The activity guide includes bilingual worksheet for students and highlights local field trip options; addresses conservation by providing alternatives when teaching students human impacts on the environment; provides resources to expose students to local scientists and experts, as well as to local watershed and marine conservation groups.
Workshop participants do a plankton tow at Elkhorn Slough
The Watershed Academy Resource Kit is given to workshop participants facilitating the Watershed Academy after-school programs. The kit includes materials to help participants implement watershed and ocean base activities, such as:
A water quality monitoring test kit, plus insect study nets and hand lenses.
- A printed Watershed Activity Guide
- A CD/ROM containing the Watershed Activity Guide, sanctuary power point presentations and video clips to help introduce students to the diverse habitats and special characteristics of the Sanctuary
- Coralito's Bay, a Spanish bilingual children's book written for the MERITO Program by renowned poet and author Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by artist Lena Shiffman
- A poster of the MBNMS and the Grand Canyon of Monterey, and a coastal watershed map identifying the sanctuary’s eleven coastal watersheds
- Natural History books on the MBNMS and Elkhorn Slough, plus bird, marine mammal, mudflat, and tidepool identification sheets
- Two decks of 72 MBNMS species cards that are the centerpiece of numerous Watershed Academy activities
Teachers review MBNMS species cards during the MERITO Watershed Academy Workshop
MERITO workshop participants return to their after-school programs equipped with the tools to encourage and inspire students to become environmental leaders in their community. The Watershed Academy after-school program and training is made possible by a grant from NOAA Bay Watershed Education Training (B-WET) Program
MERITO Internship Opportunities
MERITO works with partners to increase Hispanic representation in NOAA and the science workforce by offering paid-internship and job training opportunities for Hispanic undergraduate and graduate level students. MERITO interns help enhance our mission by helping us deliver MERITO after-school programming, adult education, family field experiences, and community events. Interns make it possible to impart a broader range of programming while modeling successful Hispanic college students to MERITO students and families.
MERITO intern, Ricardo Lopez, assists Watershed Academy students during an aquatic insects investigation.
With the Hispanic community underrepresented in the field of science, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) has identified the need to offer marine and watershed focused internships to undergraduate and graduate level students and has received funding from NOAA’s Environmental Entrepreneurship Program/Minority Serving Institution (NOAA MSI) grant to support this goal. MERITO has partnered with CSUMB’s Internship Program to provide marine and watershed focused internships to Hispanic students.
MERITO works with CSUMB to recruit, train and mentor Hispanic interns to assist MBNMS staff with implementing MERITO programs, collecting survey data, translation of materials, and bilingual interpretation during community events. The internship program is a valuable tool in connecting college students to real world opportunities. One of our first interns, Claudia Pineda, was so successful that she now works for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in their new Mar y Campo Program serving Watsonville High School students.
CSU, Monterey Bay intern, Claudia Pineda, teaches young girls the importance of protecting watersheds at a Mother's Day event at Elkhorn Slough
Bilingual Outreach Intern, Claudia Pineda, summarizes her internship experience:
“MERITO's intended internship goal, as well as my personal goal, was to provide outreach to the Hispanic/Latino population in Monterey County regarding environmental issues in their home communities, while at the same time increasing awareness of the Sanctuary and its importance.
My tasks to help achieve these goals were:
- Surveying citizens of Watsonville to gain a perspective on what they know about the Sanctuary and resource issues,
- Assisting the Watershed Institute pilot after-school program,
- Bilingual interpretation during community events such as Dia del Niño at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Mother's Day at Elkhorn Slough, and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville,
- Translating existing materials for the Sanctuary's MERITO website.
In terms of future career goals, this internship has shown me the importance of having a strong background in science in order to provide adequate outreach regarding environmental issues to all members of the community whether young or old and regardless of race. I am an Earth Systems Science and Policy major at California State University Monterey Bay. When I first started my internship I was concentrating in formal science education with the intentions of either teaching science in a traditional classroom setting or serving as a consultant who would teach science informally. After looking at the current, as well as the past, state of teaching in California I decided to design my own concentration in Earth Sciences. After graduating from CSUMB, I am looking to attend a Masters program, which will prepare me to work for a government agency and will also give me a strong background to teach in my community.”