NOAA 2002-R421
Contact: Stephanie Balian
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Down Under, Out Yonder, in the Gulf of Mexico

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has invited educators from around the country to get out of their classroom and into the Gulf of Mexico for a week-long educators' underwater exploration workshop, "Down Under, Out Yonder." The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration manages the Flower Garden Bank Sanctuary, which organizes this popular annual event.

"Our goal for the workshops is to offer teachers first-hand experience with exploration and research. You cannot find that kind of background in a textbook," said Shelley DuPuy, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary education coordinator. "Not only do the teachers get hands-on training, they get to interact with educators from all over. They exchange ideas that result in new classroom dynamics. This has a direct impact on the students and that is what is most important."

Beginning July 12, there will be two workshops held in the sanctuary, which lies 100 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, aboard a 100-foot converted oil and gas operations crew boat equipped for scuba diving. Each workshop will have about 18 educators each. During the dives, the teachers will count fish and other animals, monitor transects photos and conduct general observations on the status of the coral reef environment. More important, they develop a curriculum that they will share with their students back home.

"Down Under, Out Yonder 2002" workshops offer classes on introductory and advanced levels. During classroom, teachers are given a crash course in marine biology and research/scientific methods that they use during the three-day cruise in the sanctuary.

"One of the reasons that this program is so successful is because the underwater world holds a natural mystery that keeps kids' attention for a long time," said Sarah Bernhardt, education specialist and organizer of the annual sanctuary workshop.

Sponsorship for the program this year was provided by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation through the funding of BP, Nuefield Exploration, the Shell Foundation and Sea Space.

The "Down Under Out Yonder" 2002 Participants are as follows:

July 12-17 Workshop
Joan Bourque, Freelance teacher, Cornville, Ariz.
Gregory Burns, Pineville High School, Lecompte, La.
Bill Crowley, Archer City High School, Archer, Texas
Robert Duin, James Madison High School, San Antonio, Texas
Mary Fordham, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, Houston, Texas
Emily Large, Eagle Valley High School, Eagle, Colo.
Loretta Lawrence, Coral Shores High School, Islamorda, Fla.
Jo Monday, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, Houston, Texas
Thomas Oglin, Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park, Rowlett, Texas
Steve Pittman, Union Intermediate High School, Tulsa, Okla.
Suzanne Rippetoe, Branch Crossing Jr. High, The Woodlands, Texas
Jacquelyn Scherer, James Madison High School, San Antonio, Texas
June Stockbridge, Oak Creek School, Cornville, Ariz.
Woody Ward, Woodward Academy, Union City, Ga.
Nancy Wilkins, Dickinson Elementary, Sugarland, Texas
Jennifer Shaffer, Salem Lutheran School, Houston, Texas
Carrie Robertson, Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas

July 27-31 Workshop
Risha Bove, Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas
W.D. "Pete" Bryant Klein, Oak High School/North Harris College, Cypress, Texas
Michael Christian, Klein Oak High School, Houston, Texas
Bob Cox, Comstock School, Lockhart, Texas
Janene Fowler, Branch Crossing Jr. High, The Woodlands. Texas
Deanna Gallier, Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas
Marlene Horace, Clearview High School, Houston, Texas
James R. Jones, Grant Middle School, Corpus Christi, Texas
Patricia Kesling-Wood, Farrington High School, Kaneohe, Hawaii
Lydia Locke, Nubian Dive Club, Sanctuary Volunteer, Houston, Texas
Robert Roach, Bethune Academy, Houston, Texas
George Ruelens, Claremont Elementary, Willow Street, Pa.
Kathy Smith, J.P. Elder Middle School, Ft. Worth, Texas
Mike Smith, North Crowley High School, Ft. Worth, Texas
Ellen/Talitha, Young, Woodward High School, Woodward, Okla.
Wilfred Williams, Austin, Texas
Lani Muilenberg, Houston ISD, Houston, Texas

The National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America's maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. In addition, the National Marine Sanctuary Program is currently considering the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve for sanctuary designation.

For more information about the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, visit

NOAA's National Ocean Service manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program, and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service and the National Marine Sanctuary Program, please visit: