Coral Ed Prep Week 1 – Smith College

Preparation Week – Smith College

June 2, 2017

Coral Reef Ed-Ventures 2017 faculty and student team.

Hello all! Coral Ed is back, and this is our first blog post of 2017!  We are currently working very hard preparing for all the fun, engaging, and interesting activities we will be conducting in San Pedro, Belize. Preparation week just started, and we have a lot to do! Nonetheless, we would like you to know what is coming up, and we also want you to meet us!

Week 1: Team members preparing on campus.

Theme for 2017:

This year’s theme is Marine Protected Areas. We are hoping to get the community and the students engaged in conversations about the history of the Belizean Barrier Reef and its future under marine protection. In this camp, the students will explore their roles as friends of the reef. We are hoping to put together a very fun, engaging, and interesting camp!

Meet our STARRS:


Left to Right: Emily Hitchcock ’19, Sabrina Cordero ’19, Dana Vera ’19,                          Mandy Castro ’17 (Team Leader), Jasmine Pacheco-Ramos ’19, Abby Onos ’17.

  • Mandy Castro – Class of 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Mandy Castro and I just graduated from Smith with a degree in Biology and a minor in Education & Child Studies. From a young age growing up along the coast of San Diego, California, I have been fascinated by the ocean and marine biology, so it has been such a pleasure to be a part of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program for the past two summers. The research I have conducted as part of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program was used to complete my Honors Thesis, where I characterized the hard and soft corals of Mexico Rocks, a recently established marine protected patch reef complex located north of San Pedro. I am very enthusiastic and eager to be back in Belize for a third summer of Coral Ed because I understand the impacts and value environmental education has on this local community!

  • Abby Onos – Class of 2017

Hello everyone! My name is Abby Onos and I just graduated from Smith with a degree in Biology and a minor in Studio Art. I participated in research on microbial diversity during my time at Smith, and I recently completed an Honors Thesis exploring patterns of diversity in microbial communities of tide pools. I grew up in South Portland, Maine and have been a competitive swimmer for most of my life, so I’ve always loved the water and all things marine. I’m so excited to join the Coral-Ed team this summer and have the opportunity to share my passion for ocean science with the kids in San Pedro!

  • Emily Hitchcock – Class of 2019

Hi, my name is Emily Hitchcock, and I am at rising junior at Smith. I am majoring in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Sustainable Food, and I am particularly passionate about environmental education. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts, and I have an identical twin sister! I love to spend time outside, especially with children, and I work as a garden assistant at Smith during the year. I have enjoyed working at a summer camp for the past few summers but never in a place as cool as Belize! I am so excited to meet everyone in San Pedro and to see what we can all learn from each other!

  • Dana Vera – Class of 2019

Hi everyone! My name is Dana Vera, and I am a rising junior at Smith studying Mathematics and Education. I am focusing my studies on teaching middle and high school science and innovation. I am very interested in the program because it incorporates science outreach into a Latin American community. It hits home for me because I come from Paraguay, and I hope that when I graduate I will go back home and do the same type of work there. I can’t wait to meet and have fun learning experiences with all the students in San Pedro.

  • Jasmine Pacheco – Class of 2019

Hi! My name is Jasmine Pacheco-Ramos, and I’m a rising junior at Smith majoring in Environmental Science and Policy. I’ve always been interested in environmental science, but only recently have I discovered my passion for marine ecology. I’m from New York City and have never had much exposure to the water growing up. However this year, I’ve learned how to swim, taken marine courses, and used drones to contribute to research on sea turtles in Georgia. I’ve also been tutoring and teaching children for several years. I enjoy working with children and teaching because it allows me to share what I know with others. I look forward to being a part of the community in Belize and share my passion for marine ecology with the students.

  • Sabrina Cordero – Class of 2019

Hello all! My name is Sabrina Cordero, and I am a rising junior at Smith majoring in Biology and French Studies. I am mostly interested in Marine Ecology and Conservation and believe that language is essential for communicating science among numerous communities. This past year I did research with Mandy on the patch reefs in Mexico Rocks, and I am so excited to finally see reefs in person! I love working with students and experiencing the joy and excitement that comes from learning. I think it’s an extremely valuable experience to work with the students, as they will be learning more about the amazing ecosystem they live in. I can’t wait to learn more about the community and to work with all of the wonderful students in San Pedro!

Coming up

Keep looking for more blog posts as our trip approaches! We are departing very early on June 4th for our flights to Belize, and we will be keeping you updated as the Coral Ed-Ventures Program-2017 continues!

Look for more blog posts at:

Please like our Facebook page:


-Dana Vera & Team STARRS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *