TAMPA – Florida Education Commissioner Dr. Tony Bennett awarded The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve the 26th Annual Commissioner’s Business Recognition Award Thursday night in Tampa. The award is a salute to the exemplary individuals and organizations that have worked tirelessly to help Florida’s students. The recognition cited the Reserve’s participation with two high school career academies: the Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning and the Academy of Coastal and Water Resources.
“GTM’s work with the academies exemplifies the Reserve’s hands-on approach to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education”, said the Director of the GTM NERR, Dr. Mike Shirley, “Students in the academy program receive early exposure to science careers. It gives them an opportunity to aim for higher education and careers in STEM fields.” Employability skills are taught in the career courses, in addition to the required college preparatory courses.
The Career Academies emphasize work-based learning opportunities for students and tie classroom activities to internships with local businesses. Academies are small, personalized learning communities within a high school that select a subset of students. Students enter the program of study through a voluntary process; they must apply and be accepted with parental knowledge.
Dr. Shirley accepted the award on behalf of the Reserve. “The GTM Research Reserve team, including staff, volunteers, and The Friends of the GTM Reserve support group, deserve credit for the hard work that contributed to our receiving this honor and recognition by the Florida Commissioner of Education,” said Dr. Shirley.
For more information on the Reserve’s education, research, restoration and conservation programs, call the GTM Research Reserve Education Center at 904.823.4500 or visit the website at www.gtmnerr.org.
GTM NERR is managed by the Department’s Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas. It is also part of a nationwide network of 28 research reserves overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA designated GTM as a National Estuarine Research Reserve in 1999 to promote coastal research, stewardship and education and to promote informed coastal decisions.