Campus Rec Makes a Difference in the Florida Keys

Campus Rec Makes a Difference in the Florida Keys

Some students spend spring break vacationing in a different country, some students spend spring break trying to catch up on sleep lost over the chaos of winter quarter— this year, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Campus Recreation decided to spend spring break 2016 in the Florida Keys, changing the world one baby coral at a time!

As part of their spring break Aquatics trip, ASI Campus Rec invited Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) students on a journey to the Florida Keys for a week full of dives, adventure and fun. While there, eight students became Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Advanced SCUBA Certified, 12 were PADI Enriched Air Certified, 10 were Coral Restoration Certified and one was AWARE Coral Conservation Certified.

A student diver throws rock and roll hand sign underwater

“I think this really enhances the CPP ‘Learn by Doing’ motto,” said Jessica Barragan, assistant aquatics coordinator. “Not only did students get more diving experience, but they got to witness the different aquatic life in a different temperate zone.”

Indeed, these Broncos had a great time receiving diving instruction, exploring the surrounding area, learning about the environment and enjoying each other’s company. But the highlight of their trip was their participation in a coral reef restoration program.

Coral reefs are home to thousands of species in the ocean, help to protect the shores from rough waves and tides and even provide humans with plants needed for medicine. Unfortunately, from 1996 to 2005, the Florida Keys lost 44 percent of their reefs to bleaching, human activity and global warming. Even today, coral reefs around the world are still struggling to recover from the devastation, but with the help of restoration programs, they’re on the right track!

To make spring break 2016 truly count, these Broncos planted a total of 30 new baby corals at a coral nursery to aid restoration.

Barragan called the trip nothing short of amazing. “It was great being able to participate in this service learning project,” she said. “We learned about the importance that corals have on our ecosystem and we truly felt that we made a difference by being able to ‘plant a coral, save a reef.’ It wasn’t easy, but overall very rewarding.”

Third-year chemistry student Kevin Wong agreed that helping the coral reefs was eye-opening. “I had no idea how fragile our ecosystem was until I was involved with the Coral Restoration Foundation,” Wong remarked. “Planting the coral in the nursery was an amazing experience that I will never forget.”

First- year urban and regional planning student, Nam Vo, valued not only helping out the environment, but also the opportunity to expand his hobbies to something some people never get a chance to try.

As an international student, Vo appreciates being able to take part in trips such as this and stated, “My involvement with Campus Rec activities not only helps me from being homesick, but also lets me discover more about myself.”

In fact, Vo was inspired to pursue a Rescue Diver certificate with Campus Rec on their trip to the Catalina Islands after discovering his love for diving in Florida. Wong also admitted he never thought scuba diving was something he would ever have the opportunity to try, and now he’s received an advanced certification!

Student diver gives a thumbs up underwater with the baby coral

These Broncos definitely had an unforgettable time getting to know each other and contributing to an important cause on a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Now it’s your turn! Join ASI Campus Rec‘s scuba diving programs and start your journey to being certified today; classes include Open Water Scuba Certification, Advanced Diver Certification, Rescue Diver Certification, Deep Specialty Diver and Enriched Specialty Diver. Each Certification is $275 for BRIC members.

For more information on upcoming trips, programs and events with Aquatics, make sure to follow ASI Campus Recreation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!