S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Scientific Literacy and Workforce Development Research Projects

Navigating Coastal Conservation Careers

Principal Investigator: Julie Binz, S.C. Department of Natural Resources
Co-Principal Investigators: Jessica Kinsella and Larry Bowman, Jr., S.C. Department of Natural Resources

Establishing a career in a science-related field is long and strenuous, and many promising students get lost along the way. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields lack racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, ability, and gender diversity. Underrepresented communities have limited scientific literacy, preventing students from pursuing scientific and other coastal conservation careers, such as ecotourism, fisheries, or environmental communications. The ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and other coastal conservation organizations are missing opportunities for innovative ideas without diverse representation. Introducing scientific concepts to young students in stimulating ways sparks understanding and interest. Students then need a STEM identity, or ability to “see themselves as scientists,” to consider it professionally. Subsequently, students must have hands-on experiences to maintain interest and build skills needed for a sustaining coastal career.

The ACE Basin NERR staff proposes to build effective relationships with local students and teachers to expand scientific literacy throughout Charleston, Beaufort, and Colleton counties and create a more inclusive and diverse conservation workforce. This project will strengthen the conservation pipeline by developing programs for Title I middle and high schools, empowering more teachers to bring scientific concepts into their classrooms, and creating guiding resources for late high school, college students, and early career individuals. The students of the ACE Basin community can feel a sense of locality while gaining multi-dimensional, hands-on experiences in the coastal field.