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Director’s Debrief #3: Collaboration

By admin
November 22, 2015

BOP Meeting

Billion Oyster Project has always been an endeavor that depended on collaboration.  We at the Harbor Foundation collaborate with the Harbor School and with other organization; our students collaborate with many outside professionals– but one of the key aspects of this collaboration is that students in each of the different CTEs collaborate with each other and with their teachers.  As they go through their years at Harbor, as their training progresses, they begin to interact with each other and with their teachers as colleagues.  This update will cover the nuts and bolts of this collaboration. Seeing students working alongside each other and alongside adult professionals and working towards concrete, real-world goals is one of the most gratifying part of being involved with BOP, and I’m very glad to share some of these stories with our readers..

This past Wednesday was our last Governors Island Reef Dive of the season.  Since the donation of the Verizon Science Platform, the Governors Island Reef and the Platform have been the primary focus of the Reef Construction and Monitoring Program (RCM). The RCM Program is how the oysters we grow get down to the reefs.  It is also how Harbor School students in most often participate in Billion Oyster Project.  Harbor School has six Career and Tech Ed Programs, each has its own way of interacting with BOP.  In turn, BOP provides a narrative that creates the opportunities for students to use the skills they are learning in their classes.  The six classes  just happen to be the six fields necessary for large scale oyster restoration in New York Harbor.

In order to accomplish BOP’s ambitious goals, here’s a sampling of what Harbor students must accomplish:

  • Aquaculture students, with support from BOP schools and volunteers, grow the oysters.

  • Vessel Operations students operate the boats needed to transport people, supplies, and equipment to reef sites, and provide surface support for diving installation and scientific monitoring.

  • Marine Systems Technology students maintain the boats used by the school for oyster restoration, as well as construct metal and cement based artificial reefs infrastructure.

  • Professional Diving students conduct underwater mapping once a site has been selected, and because most NY Harbor restoration sites are fully subtidal, they also play the key role in building, maintaining and monitoring reef sites.

  • Ocean Engineering students design and operate remotely operated underwater vehicles that can take video as well as monitor parameters in locations or conditions that are unsuitable for SCUBA divers.

  • Marine Biology Research students have a direct role in monitoring, assessing new sites, gathering baseline data, and scientific research. They also operate in-situ water monitoring instruments and conduct manual tests for nutrients and bacterial content, working closely with Aquaculture students to better understand how water chemistry affects oyster growth in the hatchery and the Harbor.

New York Harbor is a demanding classroom for learning and practicing these skills.  As a result, Harbor School teachers and their students must operate at a very high level to be successful.

We have been holding weekly planning sessions for the RCM team.  These meetings are before school on Friday mornings and are quickly becoming one of my favorite BOP activities.  While most students in the city are still in bed or commuting to school, these Harbor School students are talking about the limitations of their dive gear, duration of slack tide, weather conditions, and which disconnect plug they need to swap out on the electronic water quality monitor.   It has been such a pleasure to watch students with such different skill sets learning from each other and working together to plan complex underwater missions.