X-Oceans Outreach: promoting diversity both above and below sea level

On-campus visit of X-Projects outreach (Photo credit: X-Oceans Outreach)

With the longest coastline in the world, Canada has an increased responsibility to protect the biodiversity in our waters. Each year, the continued loss and extinction of marine life threatens the delicate yet robust underwater ecosystem we see today. Global warming has only accelerated this process, and with Canada warming at twice the global average, a dedicated team out of northeastern Nova Scotia is finding new ways to inspire the next generation of ocean conservationists.

Led by the Biology Department at St. Francis Xavier University, This link will take you to another Web site X-Oceans Outreach is an on-campus program that promotes ocean preservation and stewardship in youth. For over a decade, their focus on ocean-based activities has provided students with opportunities to explore the importance of marine biodiversity through workshops, summer camps, and local mentorship. The first and only program of its kind in the region, X-Oceans activities currently reach over 2200 children per year.

As an African Canadian herself, program lead Regina Cozzi understands the importance of promoting diversity both above and below sea level. Her team has worked diligently to remove barriers and inspire positive change and leadership in BIPOC youth. X-Oceans actively consults with culturally specific providers, from leaders in the Mi’kmaw community to representatives from the Syrian community, to create targeted programming to effectively engage with participants from all backgrounds. The program also recruits undergraduate students from African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, French and Syrian refugee populations to serve as outreach facilitators for their communities.

Now, with support from NSERC’s PromoScience award, X-Oceans Outreach is expanding this experience to off-campus delivery by means of a van and mobile touch-tank. Housing live organisms, the touch tank will travel by van to rural schools in neighbouring counties. With a continued focus on under-represented youth, this investment will be used as an active learning tool to enhance experiential learning to 11 K-12 schools in Nova Scotia, allowing the program to reach four times as many students in the province.

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