Friday, June 20, the Marco Island Historical Museum hosted “Cousteau: Past, Present and Future,” a presentation by Dr. Richard C. Murphy, director of science and education at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. Set to a slide show featuring mesmerizing images of our earth’s underwater world, he talked about the Cousteau family legacy and briefly touched on some present and future endeavors.
The event was co-sponsored by the Marco Island Historical Society and Marco Island Academy, and it highlighted one of those present endeavors: The Marco Island Academy/Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment (AOTE) Summer Camp, the first ever joint-venture between Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures and a charter school.
“This will be the first time we’ve done this together, and that’s really exciting for us, Ocean Futures, as well as Jane and her staff. It’s the first step in what I hope will be a long productive collaboration,” said Murphy.
Jane Watt, founder of MIAand board chair, is helping to coordinate the AOTE camp. She said MIA partnered with the Marco Island Historical Museum to offer this educational event to the community. During the camp, the kids will come back to the museum where there will be an archeologist to speak to them, and they will learn about the history of the Calusa Indians.
“We have people coming from all over the country, it’s just amazing. Unfortunately, it just filled up so fast,” said Tina Nash, director of development for MIA.
With only 20 spots open this year, they hope to find room for more students in the future. Because MIA receives 5percent less funding than other public schools, they have to make up the difference for their technology, facilities, sports programs and other extracurricular activities.
The camp will run from June 23-27, and will provide the 14- to 18-year-old students with an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. They will learn from expertsin every field, and will design their own sustainable community. Additional hands-on learning activities planned for the week include exploring the mangroves on a kayak tour, visiting the dolphins in their natural environment, studying the array of local birds and exploring Big Cypress National Preserve. The curriculum was created through the on-going collaboration between Cousteau’s and MIA.
“It will be adaptable; it can be changed; and at the end, we will have a much better idea of what worked, what didn’t work and what we want to do differently next year,” said Murphy.
A Ph.D. scientist in Marine Ecology from the University of Southern California, Murphy began working with Jacques and Jean-Michel Cousteau in 1968, and has created educational programs for young people in developed and developing countries. He has been involved in projects and expeditions around the globe.
For more information on MIA or on how to donate to its programs, contact MIA’s Director of Development Tina Nash at 239-393-5133.