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Starfish Fund

The students who would most benefit from a MarineLab program often cannot afford our programs.    Lower income students, such as those in Title I schools, are not able to access off-campus enrichment opportunities that are available to students from middle or higher income families.  There are teachers who are eager and motivated to help their students have these experiences, but face the realities of economic disadvantage their students and their families face.

Therefore, we have created the Starfish Fund to allow students from Title I schools to attend MarineLab programs.  Current fundraising efforts, such as our participation in the Smile.Amazon program, will be allocated to the Starfish Fund, but more money will be needed to implement the program in 2017. 

Why MarineLab? Recent research has found the effects of outdoor learning go far beyond increased retention of the facts and concepts taught in the actual lessons and activities(1); just being outdoors has a positive impact on students’ critical thinking skills, reduces stress, anxiety, and ADHD (2), and creates a connection with nature that is critical to fostering conservation ethics (3).

Carol Bridges, a teacher at Nova Eisenhower Elementary in Broward County, FL, recently wrote us about their MarineLab trips.

Starfish girlNova Eisenhower has been attending MarineLab annually for over 20 years.  The trip has become a fifth grade tradition.  From the time the students are in the first grade, they look forward to the trip: “I can’t wait until I’m a big kid and can go on the ocean trip,” said Sarah S. at Meet & Greet this past fall.  Not only has the trip become a beloved tradition at Nova Eisenhower, it has truly opened students’ eyes to all that the ocean is and can be. Although many of these children live only a few miles from the beach, this is the only time they have had the opportunity to not only go on a boat, but to even swim in the ocean.

“This is better than video games!” said Nicholas, a student who has had very limited access to the ocean.  Another child decided to paint her room the color of the ocean “because the ocean is so awesome, there are so many things that live in it.”  Every year the students come back from the trip talking about all they have learned from the different mangrove trees and the order in which they are found, to the different kinds of plankton that are found during plankton lab.  This trip has made such an impact it was mentioned in a speech at high school graduation last year; not only did the student recall all she had learned, she recalled how empowering the trip was in reference to being away from home and being responsible for her snorkel gear and taking care of the ocean.  MarineLab is truly an invaluable experience for all students and the trip of a lifetime.

MarineLab Makes a Difference! You can help MarineLab Make a Difference to these students by donating today!


1 - What does the research say about outdoor learning? Summaries of key findings from reviews of research and major studies.  English Outdoor Council 11/03/2015.

2 - There’s a reason they call it the great outdoors.  National Wildlife Federation, 10/29/2015.

3 - Kids in Nature. The Nature Conservancy 10/29/2015.