MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans) is a marine conservation outreach effort comprising local and regional groups that participate in ocean and watershed education programs that serve students, teachers, adults and families living near the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS).
MERITO was launched in Fall 2002, and over the past decade has worked with a cadre of partners to provide classroom support, field trips, training and resources, college internships, event support and a forum for expanding bilingual outreach programs within sanctuaries. Through enhanced knowledge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its associated watersheds, our diverse citizens will better understand the importance of protecting our resources and their special qualities.
The mission of MERITO (Spanish meaning is "merit" or "worth") is to provide programs and products for our diverse citizens in order to increase their understanding of ocean-related threats within sanctuaries so that our entire community can actively contribute to ocean preservation resulting ultimately in full protection of our special marine resources.
MERITO is a consortium of science, education and community service organizations with the following mutual goals:
- To provide a forum for multicultural outreach in the region among schools, universities, marine education organizations, and government agencies
- To increase ocean and watershed awareness and stewardship among diverse youth and families and within community groups
- To increase the number of diverse college students who choose marine science and it's related fields as a career
- To foster participation by diverse community leaders in marine and coastal management issues
Development of the original MERITO Plan took place from October 2000 to March 2001. Sanctuary staff collected need assessment information during thirty individual meetings with community leaders representing local community groups, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, city, state and federal agencies, and the farm industry. The personal interviews resulted in a list of critical needs that needed to be addressed in order for the MERITO Plan to provide effective multicultural education.
The MBNMS Multicultural Education Plan is a multi-agency, long-term collaborative program that utilizes a multi-pronged approach to expand and improve outreach and education to local Hispanic communities. It will build upon and provide support for existing education efforts and also initiate new programs that will enhance understanding of our complex and important relationship with the marine environment. NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System is interested in using the MBNMS Multicultural Education Plan as a model marine conservation outreach and education program for other marine sanctuaries nationwide.
MERITO Academy Coordinator
35 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz CA 95060
Fax. (831) 421-9992