April 28, 2022

Reef Check Provides Training Scholarships to Seven Recipients

In advance of our 2022 Kelp Forest Monitoring trainings, Reef Check has awarded scholarships to seven deserving divers from diverse backgrounds which will allow them to participate in our training.

The Reef Check Scholarship Fund is made possible by generous donations from our supporters, please click here to contribute.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients! Statements from each can be found below.

Chelsea Abrahamian
Chelsea is from the San Fernando Valley in southern California, and is currently living in Simi Valley. She is a recent graduate in Environmental Science and is interested in marine ecology, climate change and environmental justice. She began diving in 2019 in the landlocked state of Utah, but has since developed a deep love for the kelp forest ecosystems of California. While diving, she enjoys taking analog photos on her Nikonos V.

LeAnn Adam
LeAnn Adam started her SCUBA journey just 15 months ago, but she hit the water with an obsession that propelled her into earning Rescue certification and diving nearly every weekend in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. This enabled her to quickly gain skills and add to her recreational diving by volunteering as a diver with the Oregon Coast Aquarium and ORKA. She wants to participate in the Reef Check class to add purpose to her diving as a citizen scientist and live out her lifelong aspiration to learn more about marine science and contribute to conservation efforts. Primordially drawn to the ocean, she’s excited to start conducting surveys for Reef Check Oregon.

Alessandra Adamo
I was born in South America and work in healthcare full-time to make ends meet. I have discovered a passion for scuba diving along with my boyfriend. We continue to encourage minorities around us of all ages to never fear adventure and to show that these types of sports and activities can be accessible to all and are deserved. I strive to learn more about the magical marine world that lies past our shores and would take any opportunity to further my skills and preserve our oceans.

Vivian Chin
Vivian Chin has been a long-time resident of Oakland, CA. She’s been fascinated with the underwater world ever since she was certified in Monterey- almost a decade ago. Years have gone by and many dive destinations later, the kelp forest still holds a special place in her heart. Having witnessed the heartbreaking decimation of the kelp forests in many areas along the coast has made Vivian want to contribute her effort to help preserve this natural treasure. Over the past few years, she has participated in various privately organized events on sea urchin cleanup. Having heard about Reef Check from other members of the diving community and the wonderful work the organization does all over the world, she’s excited to learn and contribute to the cause. In her free time, Vivian enjoys hiking, kayaking, and traveling with her dog.

Francisco Guzman
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to join this year’s cohort of citizen scientists. I was born in Mexico, but have grown up in the foster care system all around the Monterey Bay peninsula. I’ve attended many schools within Monterey County, but notably attended Everett Alvarez High, transferred to Robert Louis Stevenson, and then went on to earn a degree from the University of Redlands in Southern California. I did not think that I would graduate from high school, much less earn a four year degree; some would say that I have beat the odds.

After graduating from Redlands in 2013, I returned to Monterey Bay to finally become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Over the past decade, I’ve become a professional sea kayaker, river rafting guide, white water kayaker, avid backpacker, sailor, free diver, and am on my way to become a SCUBA Divemaster. Looking at the last decade summarized in a couple of sentences makes me feel that I haven’t accomplished much, but it sure does beat a childhood full of purgatory.

I am currently living in the north harbor of the Elkhorn Slough, the heart of the Monterey Bay.  I have chosen to live here because I love its biodiversity and I enjoy educating the public about its international importance. Becoming a Reef Check citizen scientist will allow me to better educate the public, become directly involved with California’s coastal conservation efforts, and hopefully help life return to the Monterey Bay as it once was. Thank you, Reef Check, for all that you do.

Crys O’Grady
Growing up, Crys loved the water and was always curious about scuba diving that she had seen on TV. However, she didn’t have the chance to start diving as a young person because she was in foster care and diving just wasn’t in the budget. Additionally, being a steward of the land and ocean was a big part of her worldview as an indigenous person (tribal member of the Monacan Indian Nation). In her late 20s Crys was able to start diving and has not stopped exploring the ocean yet and wants to ensure that she does her part to address the impact that environmental changes are having on the ocean’s ecosystem. She wants to join Reef Check Oregon to support the efforts to restore kelp forest environments. When she is not diving, you can find Crys at work at the Oregon Department of Education where she works as a policy analyst, or running/kayaking along the Willamette.

Cormac Toler-Scott
I am a Seattle resident and recent graduate of the University of Washington, where I studied biology with an emphasis on ecology and conservation. I have been passionate about marine science since I could walk! As such, I currently work as a research scientist in UW’s School of Aquatics and Fisheries Sciences where my work focuses on nearshore restoration ecology in relation to juvenile salmon migration throughout the Puget Sound.

I began SCUBA diving in 2019 and have always dreamed of diving within kelp forests but haven’t had the chance until now. Reef Check will be the perfect opportunity for me to learn to dive with kelp safely and responsibly, all the while learning to effectively monitor these invaluable marine forests in the pursuit of conserving them for the future.