Youth and young adults from under-represented or tribal communities often do not have access to the ocean environment, let alone ways or opportunities to experience the ocean. While they may have an interest in marine science and the desire to explore the ocean, they often lack experience and/or training that would allow them to successfully pursue a career in marine science, or other natural sciences for that matter. This lack of access and experience creates a disadvantage when it comes to their future educational or career choices. 

Extracurricular activities, training and volunteerism are now widely required for a competitive college application. Dive into Science will provide the skills and experiences necessary to create a pathway to college and careers for under-resourced youth who have a passion for conservation and the ocean. 

Our Dive into Science program will be taught by trained SCUBA instructors and Marine Biologists as well as dive leaders within our Reef Check volunteer dive program. These qualified individuals will provide the expert training and mentorship to help participants achieve their goals as SCUBA divers and conservationists, and prepare them for any roles they would like to pursue in their future careers and/or college education. They will teach them scientific methods by training them as Reef Check Citizen Scientists, and provide opportunities for them to actively collect data in the kelp forest habitat along the West Coast of North America or coral reefs in other parts of the world. The combination of skills, experience and community service will open their minds to what is possible and create a strong resume for college applications. Dive into Science will provide them with the skills and confidence to achieve their goals in the higher education system. 

In October 2021, Reef Check initiated its first Dive into Science training course in collaboration with Native Like Water, a Southern California non-profit organization committed to reintegration of indigenous teens and adults into ocean recreation and conservation. Training was conducted over six days, with all eight participants graduating with an Open Water SCUBA certification and garnering two dives towards their Advanced Open Water certification (including diving on a shipwreck and a night dive during a full moon). Additionally, they were introduced to marine species identification, Reef Check protocols, and scientific diving. These are their experiences.