SOEST News, first published June 7, 2023
High school students from Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island Maui, Molokaʻi and Kauaʻi spent 10 days on Moku o Loʻe (Coconut Island), in a fully funded overnight experience, learning about marine mammal science at a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa summer program. Developed by two Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology graduate students, the Summer Marine Mammal Intensive Learning Experience (SMMILE) program ran from June 2–11 and was free for the participants.
“SMMILE has been an amazing opportunity, a bunch of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and just something I wouldn’t have got if I hadn’t joined this program,” said Hulali Patacsil, an incoming senior at Kealakehe High School on Hawaiʻi Island.
Twelve incoming high school juniors and seniors participated in the SMMILE program, which was developed by UH Mānoa Marine Biology Graduate Program PhD students Kirby Parnell and Brijonnay Madrigal. This is the second year Parnell and Madrigal have run the SMMILE program.
“SMMILE is really important for high school students because it gets them that hands on opportunity to learn about different facets of marine science,” said Madrigal. “And I think engaging them early on will allow them to see potential career paths they might want to pursue in the future.”
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