[Coral-List] Summer Coral Reef Internship in Roatan

Nicole Crane nicrane at cabrillo.edu
Wed Mar 15 13:15:17 EDT 2017

Sorry - I repeat of what I sent earlier under this subject 
heading...with some added thoughts about the role of NGOs

I will pipe in here.  I have spent the better part of my career advocating for and raising funds to support underserved, underrepresented and underfunded students, who so often are the super motivated and super engaged.  I also understand the importance of skills and experience in not only equipping these (and all) students to be competitive, but also to give them experiences and connectedness to marine science in the field - something many (as you point out) do not have the ability to engage with - as much as because of costs as lack of access to information about them.

I also run a research project in Micronesia - a remote and expensive place to get to.  I am dedicated to involving students in that work - students from Micronesia as well as students from the US.  It is not a vacation, and student are put to work and gain valuable skills.  Because of the remote location, it is both expensive and difficult to get funding for (a bit less so the science, but certainly to send students).  We need to charge to be able to have students (no one makes money, but some need to pay for airfare room board etc.). We also work super hard to provide some scholarship $$.

SO, instead of not providing this as an internship experience, we instead help them raise funds to support themselves.  Many of our students have had great luck with go fund me campaigns, fundraisers through their churches, community, extended family etc.  Rather than us always trying to get funding to support these opportunities (which we are always trying to do), how about also including communities to support their own?

In sum, I do agree that these opportunities often seem elitist and exclude many who are deserving of inclusion, but I disagree that we should just give up then and call them vacations - truly offering the opportunity only to the privileged.  Why instead don't we work harder to give more students access to avenues of funding so they CAN participate in them.  Its a fact of life that programs such as this are expensive, so by limiting their advertisement, we just shut the door on even more.

PLEASE, if you run and advertise such programs, let’s all work harder to help increase access, help others raise funds, and promote equity and diversity.  It will benefit people, the environment, and our programs in the long run.

Also this: Considering that non-profits running summer programs, including marine labs, are only out to make a buck with sort of 'volunteer' programs (not sure what that implies - not up to par?)(seemed to be implied bu Halard?)is insulting and denegrading to the many great NGOs who offer unparalleled opportunities and do MUCH of our global marine conservation and on the ground hard work.  Can we not be elitist? My full time faculty position is at an academic institution, but I also have affiliations with NGOs, so I bridge the two, as I am sure many of our listers do.

Some NGOs, for sure, offer high priced, pseudo, boardering on for profit summer programs for 'rich kids'. No doubt.  But many others go above and beyond to make things work.  Many operate on shoestring budgets.  What is wrong with them offering programs that include funds to pay someone to coordinate them?  Where do you think the Faculty who offer internships get their pay?  Surely not many work for free.  I am among the many fortunate faculty who get a salary to offer the kinds of field programs and internships I do, and I sure feel lucky for it.  That doesn't mean I think those who work to provide similar opportunities through NGOs should do it for free.

Finally I NEED to say: those of you who really think that straight up internships (no cost to students) or even paid ones are based on open access and equal opportunity are fooling yourselves (just look at the US right now - fair, balanced, equal opportunity country? Probably not - no more than most of our 'opportunity' programs are). Go look at the stats.  For a number of reasons, those by FAR go disproportionately to the advantaged student.  Don't you think we should be exploring EVERY opportunity to increase access???

Thanks all!

On 3/15/17 7:36 AM, Lescinsky, Halard wrote:
> As a Professor at a primarily undergraduate institution where we are
> continuously helping students find summer internships, I'd like to respond
> to Damien's email.  In the US the general definition of an internship is
> that it should be free to the student or perhaps paid.  From a student
> point of view, paid internships are of course better, but they are much
> rarer and more difficult to get.  Free (volunteer) internships are pretty
> typical, and those internships often don't include travel or housing
> stipends, making them a significant out of pocket expense.  But even if
> they are totally free to the student they still exert an economic filter
> since most of my students need to make money over the summer to help
> contribute to their fall tuition.  They simply can't afford to spend a
> summer without racking up cash.  The reality (at least in the US) is that
> the educational system is far from economically fair and students have to
> constantly weigh how much to spend now (on tuition, doing "unpaid
> internships", accruing student loans) in order to invest in their futures.
> The playing field is no where near even.
>         I don't begrudge any institution from offering any opportunity to
> students who are looking for experience, but I do agree with Damien, that
> if students are paying what is essentially a tuition fee (including
> classroom fees!), calling it an internship is problematic- since it
> violates the general definition of the term.  On the other hand, it may not
> be an organized course in the traditional sense either, and I have little
> doubt that part of the driving force is that students prefer the term
> "internship" on their resume because it seems to imply a higher level of
> selection and seriousness.
>        My guess is that the Roatan opportunity is much like what many
> non-profits do.  They offer "volunteer" positions for which participants
> pay more than their costs, and the participants feel good about helping,
> and the NGOs explicitly view it as a fund raising activity.   These are
> win-win opportunities for the participants and programs so I see no problem
> with them, but they are certainly not internships in the traditional sense.
> Hal Lescinsky
> Otterbein University
> On Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 10:41 PM, Damien Beri <beridl at g.cofc.edu> wrote:
>> Dear Coral List,
>> I opt to negotiate the terms in which we decide something is eligible to
>> be called an internship on this list.  An internship should not cost anyone
>> money.  3000$ for eligibility for an internship is elitist.  It doesn’t
>> matter if its for room & board, travel, or what not.  The internship should
>> be offered to students of the prospective area of study, if room & board +
>> travel are included in the internship offerers budget.  While I understand
>> coral reef research requires various types of external forms of funding to
>> function, due to lack of said funding.  It is simply wrong to offer such
>> opportunities to those with the merits afforded by monitory exchanges, and
>> the situation in which you were raised that offered you the ability to
>> receive such scholarly merits or funding to attend such an internship.  I
>> am sure many will agree with this point, and I am sure even more will
>> disagree.  I however feel that this email chain should be open to this
>> discussion.
>> Thank you,
>> Warm regards,
>> D
>> On Mar 13, 2017, at 4:57 PM, RIMS Internship <internship at roatanims.org>
>> wrote:
>>> There are just a few weeks left until the March 31st application
>> deadline.
>>> Please share this information with students and other educators who may
>> be
>>> interested!
>>> *PROGRAM LOCATION:  *The Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS),
>>> Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras.
>>> The Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) is excited to offer a
>>> 4-week long Coral Reef Research Internship this summer.  If you are
>>> interested in coral reef ecology and conservation, this internship will
>>> provide a unique opportunity to live on a small Caribbean island and gain
>>> valuable field research experience on one of the most biologically
>> diverse
>>> and well-developed reefs in the Caribbean.
>>> RIMS was founded in 1989 with the primary objective of protecting
>> Roatan’s
>>> natural resources through education and research.  In almost three
>> decades
>>> our facility has established itself as a dedicated teaching institution
>> and
>>> we are visited throughout the year by colleges and universities from
>> abroad
>>> to study tropical marine ecosystems.  Our facility is ideally located on
>>> the northwest coast of Roatan with easy access to miles of fringing and
>>> barrier reef, seagrass beds, and mangrove communities.
>>> *INTERNSHIP DATES:* The 4-week internship will run from July 22 through
>>> August 19, 2017.
>>> *ELIGIBILITY:  *The program will be limited to 12 interns and is open to
>>> upper level undergraduate students or recent graduates with a genuine
>>> interest in coral reef ecosystems. Students must be 18 years old at the
>>> start of the internship and SCUBA certified.  We do not offer course
>> credit
>>> for the program, but due to the intensive structure of the course, we
>>> encourage successful applicants to arrange for independent studies or
>>> undergraduate research credit through their home institution.
>>> *INTERNSHIP DESCRIPTION:*  During the 4 weeks spent on Roatan, students
>>> will interact with staff experts and visiting faculty as they investigate
>>> and explore a variety of coral reef environments.  Through lectures, site
>>> visits and practical field exercises, students will learn the flora and
>>> fauna of the region and understand the roles of different ecological
>>> processes on a coral reef.
>>> Through collaborative research activities, mentorship and independent
>>> research projects, students will receive direct exposure to reef
>> monitoring
>>> methods, as they develop, implement and communicate their own research.
>> In
>>> addition to the academic and research opportunities our program provides,
>>> interns will also gain important cultural and social development. This
>>> internship is a chance of a lifetime and the transformative experiences
>>> students will be exposed to can contribute to personal growth and career
>>> advancement.
>>> Under the direction of professional mentors and marine biologists and
>>> staff, students will engage in a wide variety of activities and gain
>>> experience in the:
>>>    - Field experience in the Identification of Caribbean coral, fish,
>>>    invertebrates and algal species
>>>    - Application of field research methods to assess coral cover,
>>>    abundance, and reef health
>>>    - Development and implementation of an independent research project.
>>>    - Participation in reef restoration projects and maintenance and
>>>    monitoring of our coral nurseries.
>>>    - Management of invasive lionfish populations through collaboration
>> with
>>>    the Roatan Marine Park.
>>>    - Participation in field trips on and around Roatan.
>>>    - Interaction with local conservation professionals.
>>> *COURSE FEE:*  The fee for the course is *$2975.00 USD*.  The fee
>> includes
>>> full room & board, diving, tanks and weights, lab and classroom fees,
>>> airport transfers, off site field excursions and all applicable taxes..
>>> *APPLICATION DEADLINE*:  Applications are due by March 31st, 2017.
>>> Applications will not be accepted if all the required forms have not been
>>> received.
>>> For more information about the Coral Reef Research Internship at RIMS and
>>> to access the *Application Form* please visit our webpage at:
>>> www.roatanims.org
>>> *CONTACT INFORMATION:*  For more information or questions about the
>>> internship please contact:
>>> Jennifer Keck
>>> Education & Research Coordinator
>>> Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences
>>> internship at roatanims.org
>>> 011-504 9556-0212 <+504%209556-0212>
>>> www.roatanims.org
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
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