Marine Education program header
Welcome to the Marine Education Program blog! Visit this site for information about our efforts to incorporate boating, scuba diving and marine related fields into our unique combination of education, behavior modification, and treatment to help at-risk youth discover their full potential and guiding them on their paths to a positive future.

  • AMIkids officially resumes Experiential Challenge Events.

    by Jorge Mahauad | Jun 28, 2021
    June 28, 2021

    Starting in July, AMIkids programs can bring kids off-campus, officially resuming Experiential Challenge Events. The Presidential Dive Trip and Rafting & Rappelling Events are happening this summer. Marine Education will be fully available again starting in August. 


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    2018 Dive Challenge - Jorge_24

    Experiential Education has been at the core of AMIkids programming from the beginning. Youth who participate in experiential learning form a stronger bond with their teachers, therapists, and other staff. Those bonds, and the trust that develops within a meaningful relationship with our kids, help us serve them better.

    We also use experiential education opportunities to incentivize AMIkids programs for youth working toward academic and behavioral goals. Trips to participate in non-classroom learning motivates them to focus on achieving goals and sets an example for youth who have not yet earned the privilege to attend. 

    Furthermore, Experiential Education also allows a shared anchoring point for a group of youth. It offers a mutual start in exploring new activities, leveling the playing field for students of diverse life histories to connect, engage in learning, and connect with their environment. 

    FC 11.9.19

    Unfortunately, AMIkids had to rethink Marine Education and Challenge events and adapt to the socially distant reality of COVID-19. We implemented virtual challenge events, a virtual floating classroom, and some on-site experiences. However, the changes we had to make were particularly hard for our youth and the proper implementation of the AMIkids Way.

    However, today we are pleased to announce that off-campus experiences for youth are now allowed again starting this week. We have been anxiously waiting for this moment and also preparing for it. 

    In May, we conducted lifeguard training at AMIkids Jacksonville, and we now have ten recently certified lifeguards ready to supervise our youth in water activities. 

    Lifeguard Class of 2021 Photo

    The Presidential Dive Challenge Event is confirmed, and we have 12 programs actively working to participate. The AMIkids crowd will invade the John Pennekamp State Park from July 19 to 23, and we will have nine boats and over 100 people there. 

    The Rafting and Rappelling event is also confirmed, and schools are working to attend. This event will take place September 13 to 17 at the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina and will include exciting new additions such as Ziplining and multiple camping clinics. 

    Our Marine Education Program is also back online, and the team is working full steam to provide kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, snorkeling, and floating classroom experiences to our youth.  Usually held one week per month, we have decided to double our offerings for the remainder of 2021 to two weeks a month. The schedule is already fully booked, with programs attending events at our Boatyard in St. Petersburg, FL, from August to November. 

    COVID-19 taught us many things. We learned to do old things in new ways. We learned to work from home and be more efficient, and we learned how to be more remote. 

    But we also learned some things just couldn't be replaced with a virtual experience, and Experiential Education is one of those. 

    We are glad to have kids back!


  • Virtual Floating Classroom | The 2020 Way

    by Jorge Mahauad | Nov 23, 2020
    Flyer2

    The COVID-19 pandemic affected our ability to provide our youth with in-person marine education activities. In the past couple of years, we have been providing close to 200 experiences, including fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, small boating, kayaking, and of course, the floating classroom.  

    But we couldn't let this year finish without bringing marine education to our youth, at least in a virtual way. So we invited all the AMIkids Programs to a virtual floating classroom and encouraged everyone to join us. 

    During the 90-minute remotel Floating Classroom experience, we included a virtual boat trip onboard the Orlando's Rose in a curriculum packed with outdoor fun and followed by conservation science activities. We field sampled seagrass beds, provided a view of the Tampa Bay area's estuary environment, rode an underwater drone, and much, much more. The pre-recorded segments on the boat matched a series of live web-based interactive presentations, creating a relatively seamless live experience for our youth. 

    In the end, over 150 youth and 100 team members in 17 AMIkids programs participated in the event. Thanks to our communications, IT regional and executive directors, and their teams for making this event such a success. Also, special thanks to MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium for partnering with us for this and many more floating classroom events. 

    In one way or another, we have reached about 200 youth with marine education content this year. In 2020 terms, that's good enough.

    You can watch the recording below or access the full resources folder using this link.


  • Volunteers Needed

    by Jorge Mahauad | Jan 20, 2020
    AMIkids is looking for volunteer SCUBA Professionals interested in supporting our 2020 presidential dive challenge in the Florida Keys. 

    Dive Trip 2019 Manatee & Clay_2

    We need certified, current and insured experienced SCUBA Professionals who are philanthropic and passionate about giving the gift of diving to at-risk youth.

    If interested, please sign up through Volunteer Florida
  • 2019 Presidential Dive Trip

    by Jorge Mahauad | Jul 19, 2019
    It's a wrap! the 2019 presidential dive challenge was a success. Thanks to the donors supporting us through multiple charitable contributions. You are helping change at-risk lives one bubble at the time!

    Dive Trip 2019 Manatee Clay

    The annual AMIkids Presidential Dive introduces youth to the underwater world and allows students who have earned the opportunity to participate a chance to explore different animals, habitats.

    Dive Trip 2019 Manatee Clay

    Every year more than 50 youth and 40 staff spend three days becoming more familiar with the Key Largo region and the pristine waters that are home to species of all shapes and sizes along with exotic plant life. Students were able to apply everything they learn in the classroom over months of preparation and good behavior and begin to truly understand how the deep blue environment functions. 

    The presidential dive trip also provides time for youth and staff from multiple programs a chance to interact with one another developing lifelong friendships. Through these newly formed friendships, students and staff were able to assist one another in different diving exercises and begin to understand that nothing could stop them as long as they applied themselves and encouraged one another to reach their full potential. 

    The trip closes with an awards ceremony and dinner for the youth presenting them with their diving certifications and complimenting them on their hard work throughout the week. 
  • Thirteen newly certified Red Cross Lifeguards join the AMIkids ranks

    by Jorge Mahauad | May 09, 2019
    May 9, 2019
    St. Petersburg, FL


    In preparation for the summer experiential education events, on May 1, 2 and 3 2019 thirteen staff members of multiple AMIkids programs in Florida and South Carolina participated from a lifeguard training course at AMIkids Jacksonville.

    Lifeguard training in AMIkids Jacksonville

    Participants from AMIkids Jacksonville, AMIkids Beaufort, AMIkids Volusia, AMIkids Clay, AMIkids YES in Wimauma, AMIkids Bennettsville, AMIkids Escambia Boys Base in Pensacola, AMIkids Volusia and AMikids White Pines in Jonesville, SC.

    The Red Cross Lifeguarding course consisted of e-learning prior to arrival, a complete knowledge review and several practical applications to practice and refresh lifeguarding skills. The final assessment consisted of a rescue scenario, starting with an unconscious victim underwater and executing a complete emergency plan activation and evacuation with CPR. 

    Lifeguard training in AMIkids Jacksonville

    In addition to the Red Cross requirements, participants were updated about the AMIkids water activities policy and swim tested accordingly. 

    "I wanted to express my respect and admiration for each and every one of the participants in our class this week" said Jorge Mahauad, Manager of the Marine Education Program. "The work you have done is amazing. I have seen so much effort, teamwork and support. You really show the values of AMIkids. And special thanks to Nicole Barnes and Melody Saftner for your work and dedication" - he added. 

    Marine education, aquatics, challenge events and experiential education are key components of the AMIkids model.  As lifeguards, these staff members will make a considerable difference in providing at-risk youth with more opportunities, more challenges and more success.
  • #GirlPower

    by Jorge Mahauad | Apr 26, 2019
    What a great day out in the water! 8 girls from AMIkids Orlando and AMIkids Gainesville were here to participate in our Floating Classroom this morning. First ever girl only floating classroom!

    Orlando 04.26

    Follow the story here
  • AMIkids Beaufort Develops Marine Education Program

    by Jorge Mahauad | Feb 26, 2019
    Gene Clark from Port Royal Scuba and Jay Marshall from AMikids Beaufort conducted a “Fishing Research Team” excursion with 5 youth from AMIkids Beaufort. This is the first of a series of programs scheduled for 2019.

    Fishing Research Team

    During the program participants help operate the Research Vessel “ORION”. They collaborate and receive training in Vessel Operations, helmsmanship, charting, navigation, maritime communication, anchoring, docking, weather, tide cycles, emergency procedures and devices.

    Fishing Research Team

    The ecology and biology component develops skills in scientific data collection by the use of Scientific Instruments including: salinity refractometer, Secchi disk, barometer, thermometer, sounder, gps, and compass.

    For biological studies they use fishing gear including: nets, traps, rods and reels. The recorded data readings and observed species are reported to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to help Fishery Scientists protect maritime resources.  

    Fishing Research Team, AMIkids Beaufort

    This  program is Fishing Research was developed by the collaboration of AMikids Beaufort and Port Royal Scuba and is designed to educate and inspire the students while reinforcing an attitude of respect and responsibility. 
     
  • Y.E.S. Boys: Gone Fishin'

    by Jorge Mahauad | Feb 19, 2019
    St. Petersburg, FL

    On February 13 and 14, four youth from AMIkids Y.E.S. participated in a two-day marine education program hosted by the AMikids Boatyard in St. Petersburg, FL. The 4 youth and 2 staff had the opportunity to try scuba diving and explore the estuaries through a fishing experience.

    YES Scuba

    YES fishing

    AMIkids Y.E.S. is a private nonprofit, staff-secure residential facility in Wimauma, Florida. The program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, serving kids who have committed a variety of non-violent offenses and are involved with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The "YES Boys" live in dormitories on campus in a remote location, which is ideally structured to help them work through their issues and gain the needed skills to return to their families and communities.
  • Volunteers Wanted

    by Jorge Mahauad | Feb 04, 2019
    AMIkids is looking for volunteer SCUBA Professionals interested in supporting our 2019 presidential dive challenge in the Florida Keys.

    We need help at the John Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo, FL. dates of travel are July 15 - July 19, 2019.

    If you are a certified, current and insured experienced SCUBA Professional who is passionate and philanthropic about giving the gift of diving to at-risk youth, you will be excited to spend the week before mini lobster season in Key Largo with us!

    AMIkids will cover accommodation and transportation expenses. For more information please contact  Jorge Mahauad at 239.851.6790.


    2018 Dive Challenge

    About the Event:

    The annual AMIkids Presidential Dive introduces youth to the underwater world and allows students who have earned the opportunity to participate a chance to explore different animals, habitats and most importantly become open water certified by the completion of the week-long event.

    Every year more than 50 youth and 40 staff spend three days becoming more familiar with the Key Largo region and the pristine waters that are home to species of all shapes and sizes along with exotic plant life. Students were able to apply everything they learn in the classroom over months of preparation and good behavior and begin to truly understand how the deep blue environment functions. 

    The presidential dive trip also provides time for youth and staff from multiple programs a chance to interact with one another developing lifelong friendships. Through these newly formed friendships, students and staff were able to assist one another in different diving exercises and begin to understand that nothing could stop them as long as they applied themselves and encouraged one another to reach their full potential. 

    The trip closes with an awards ceremony and dinner for the youth presenting them with their diving certifications and complimenting them on their hard work throughout the week. 

    What we do:

    Marine Education has been at the core of AMIkids programming from the beginning. The organization started as a conglomerate of “Associated Marine Institutes (AMI)” and focused heavily on marine, experiential and vocational education.

    This unique combination of education, behavior modification, and treatment in a family atmosphere with caring staff has been extremely successful and we continue to use it today for a number of reasons:

    - Kids who participate in experiential learning form a stronger bond with their teachers, therapists, and other staff. Those bonds help us to serve them better. 
    - Marine education opportunities are used as incentives for youth who are working toward academic and behavioral goals. This motivates them to focus on achieving those goals, and sets an example for their peers.
    - Marine education also allows a shared anchoring point in unfamiliar environments. By offering the opportunity for a mutual start and leveling the playing field, we achieve real world contexts and develop life skills. 
    - Marine education is also an opportunity for vocational discovery. The ability to connect ideas through hands on allows students to follow unique interests and explore potential lifelong career goals. 

    About AMikids:

    AMIkids helps at risk-youth and juvenile offenders through a multitude avenues. With 44 programs in 9 states, 136,000 youth and nearly 50 years in operation the organization provides programming in multiple models including marine education, alternative schools, family centered therapy, residential facilities, vocational training and job placements. 



  • AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale's first dive week of 2019

    by Jorge Mahauad | Jan 28, 2019
    From January 18 to 22, 5 youth and 3 staff from AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale participated of a weekend of swim training and SCUBA diving certification. The dives were conducted by Gerard Smith, SCUBA Instructor at Greater Fort Lauderdale and Felix Collazo, Executive Director. 

    AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale dives 2019

    As the original, founding program of AMIkids, AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale has been dedicated to helping kids discover the potential within them, transform their lives and strengthen our community.
    AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale is one of the most active dive program among the 44 AMIkids programs in 9 states. 

    A few photos of the dives last week below. 
  • Three AMIkids Clay County youth participate of a 3-day Marine Education Experience

    by Jorge Mahauad | Jan 25, 2019
    St. Petersburg, FL

    From January 16th to 18th, Youth and Staff from AMIkids Clay County had the opportunity to participate of a 3-day Marine Education Experience at the AMIkids Boatyard located in St. Petersburg, FL.



    The program consisted of swim testing and Discover Scuba Diving Experience on Day 1, a field trip to the Weedon Marine Preserve and boat ride followed by a visit to The Florida Aquarium on Day 2 and The Floating Classroom on Day 3 where they had the opportunity to engage with 4 other AMIkids participants from the Tampa program.

  • 15 AMIkids youth participate of Fishing Clinic

    by Jorge Mahauad | Jan 10, 2019

    St. Petersburg, FL

    Youth from AMIkids Pinellas, AMIkids Tampa ans AMIkids YES participated from a fishing clinic at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach. The group consisted of 15 youth and 6 staff.

    The program started with a general overview of the facilities and activities available at the 6,000 square foot building and the Florida Conservation and Technology Center.

    A theory presentation with a portion of the Summer Camp Fishing curriculum followed. The group divided into smaller teams for specific clinics such as casting, de-hooking and measuring. Once the small group workshops were complete, the youth had an opportunity to practice what they learned and catch some fish in the SYYC natural pond. The program ended with the group working together to drag a seine net through the channels to sample marine life and learn hands on.

    The Florida Conservation and Technology Center offers field trip opportunities for students in grades 3 through 12 provide hiking and paddling excursions through the mangroves of Newman Branch Creek and into Tampa Bay along with marine and coastal education programs focused on science based natural resource management.

    Experiential Education has been at the core of AMIkids programming from the beginning. Kids who participate in experiential learning form stronger bonds; that helps us serve them better and allows a shared anchoring point for them. Fieldtrips are also a motivational incentive within AMIkids programs.

  • Six youth from AMIkids Y.E.S. participate of the floating classroom

    by Jorge Mahauad | Dec 10, 2018
    Six youth from AMIkids Youth Environmental Services (Y.E.S.) participated of the floating classroom last Friday. On the trip, an educator from Mote Marine Laboratory taught them a marine biology lesson, integrating the core subjects of math and science. They then had the opportunity to learn hands-on about the ecosystem by wading in the water, collecting samples, and inspecting creatures under on-board microscopes.

    YES Floating Classroom

    AMIkids Y.E.S. is a private nonprofit, staff-secure residential facility in Wimauma, Florida. Founded in 1994, our program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, serving kids who have committed a variety of non-violent offenses and are involved with Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

    Our kids are living in dormitories on campus in a remote location, which is ideally structured to help them work through their issues and gain the needed skills to return to their families and communities.

    Since 1994, AMIkids Y.E.S. has helped over 1,000 kids transform their lives and despite our kids averaging over 14 arrests prior to enrolling in our program, 63% of our kids do not re-offend within the first year of completion.
  • Five youth from AMIkids Manatee experience fishing in Tampa Bay

    by Jorge Mahauad | Dec 10, 2018
    Five youth from AMIkids Manatee were able to experience fishing in Tampa Bay earlier this month. Escorted by Carolyn McDean, Director of Education the students learned basic skills that allowed them to independently catch and release fish. The program was conducted using one of our fleet boats. At the end of this experience each participant took home a basic fishing pole and reel they can use anytime on their own.

    AMIkids Manatee fishing experience participants

    AMIkids Manatee is a new program. AMIkids Manatee empowers our kids through care and guidance to reach that potential and, as a result, breaks the cycle of failure and poverty. Even kids with a troubled past have the potential to achieve a bright future, and AMIkids Manatee works every day to separate their troubled past from a bright future.

  • 7 youth in AMIkids Jacksonville experienced SCUBA diving on Wednesday

    by Jorge Mahauad | Nov 15, 2018
    7 youth from AMIkids Jacksonville experienced SCUBA diving on Wednesday. While not a scuba certification course, Discover Scuba Diving is a quick and easy introduction to what it takes to explore the underwater world and a major opportunity to achieve something most kids have never considered.
    AMIkids Jacksonville Discover Scuba

    "Yesterday was AWESOME!  I know it was cold and rainy but, the kids who participated in discover scuba left here on cloud 9.  They were some of our most difficult ones and I honestly don't believe I have ever seen the one kid smile and yesterday he lit up!  We all can't wait to see the pictures" said Stephanie O'Brien, Executive Director.

    More photos in social media
  • Youth from Orlando participate in SCUBA and field science

    by Jorge Mahauad | Nov 09, 2018
    St. Petersburg, FL

    This Thursday and Friday, 5 youth from AMIkids Orlando participated of a two-day marine education program executed from the AMIkids Boatyard located in St. Petersburg, FL. The experience included an Introduction to SCUBA diving and a modified small boat version of the AMIkids signature floating classroom.

    Floating Classroom AMIkids Clay County and  AMIkids Orlando

    While not a scuba certification course, Discover Scuba Diving is a quick and easy introduction to what it takes to explore the underwater world and a major opportunity to achieve something most participants usually considered unheard of.

    The Floating classroom is executed in partnership with educators from Mote Marine Laboratory. The Biologists teach a marine biology lesson, integrating the core subjects of math and science. Youth then have the opportunity to learn hands-on about the ecosystem by wading in the water, collecting samples, and inspecting creatures under on-board microscopes.

    Founded in 1991, AMIkids Orlando is a private non-profit, staff-secure day treatment facility in Apopka, Florida. The program operates during regular school hours, serving both boys and girls who have committed a variety of non-violent offenses and are involved with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. 

    AMIkids helps at risk-youth and juvenile offenders through a multitude avenues. With 44 programs in 9 states, 136,000 youth and nearly 50 years in operation the organization provides programming in multiple models including marine education, alternative schools, family centered therapy, residential facilities, vocational training and job placements.
     
  • AMIkids Clay students participate of 3-day marine education experience

    by Jorge Mahauad | Oct 31, 2018

    St. Petersburg, FL

    Students from AMIkids Clay County

    Last week 7 students from AMIkids Clay participated in the 3-day marine education program conducted by AMIkids Inc. from the Boatyard in St. Petersburg, FL. During the three days the Clay team had an opportunity to go fishing in Tampa Bay, try Scuba Diving in St. Petersburg and participated in the monthly floating classroom event near the Port of Tampa Bay.

    The experience started with the Tampa Bay Fishing Experience, a half-day program designed to provide participants with hands-on experience about the species of fish in the bay and estuaries.

    AMIkids Clay County Fishing Experience

    Complementing the floating classroom, this experience provides more in depth knowledge of our estuaries and with basic fishing skills they can replicate in the future. It also includes a hands on small boating component. All the kids took in the BoatUS Small Boating Safety Course previous to participating. 

    On Wednesday, the youth came back for a Discover Scuba Diving Experience. While not a scuba certification course, Discover Scuba Diving is a quick and easy introduction to what it takes to explore the underwater world and a major opportunity to achieve something most participants usually considered unheard of. A team of volunteer mentors from Apple Foundation joined the kids during this event.

    AMIkids Clay County Scuba Diving

    The third day was dedicated to participating in the Floating Classroom. On the boat trip, Kayla Keyes, educator from Mote Marine Laboratory taught a marine biology lesson, integrating the core subjects of math and science. They then had the opportunity to learn hands-on about the ecosystem by wading in the water, collecting samples, and inspecting creatures under on-board microscopes. 

    AMIkids Clay Floating Classroom

    Founded in 2015, AMIkids Clay County is a private nonprofit, gender specific prevention program, which creates an environment that teaches boys incarceration is not their future and shows them how to prepare for the responsibilities that come from being a strong, positive male figure in their families and community.

    AMIkids Inc. helps at risk-youth and juvenile offenders through a multitude avenues. With 44 programs in 9 states, 136,000 youth and nearly 50 years in operation the organization provides programming in multiple models including marine education, alternative schools, family centered therapy, residential facilities, vocational training and job placements. 

  • AMIkids Tampa youth participate in educational fishing experience

    by Jorge Mahauad | Oct 18, 2018
    St. Petersburg, FL

    On Monday, October 15, 2018 four youth and two staff from AMIkids Tampa participated of an educational fishing experience in Tampa Bay. The fishing experience is an outdoor curriculum designed to provide participants with hands-on experience about the species of fish in the bay and estuaries.
     


    Complementing the floating classroom, this experience provides more in depth knowledge of our estuaries and with basic fishing skills they can replicate in the future. It also includes a hands on small boating component.



    The program was conducted using one of our fleet boats but the skills taught are transferable to be used from a bridge or from the beach.

    At the end of this experience each participant gets to take home a basic fishing pole and reel they can use anytime on their own. The objective of gifting them with their first rod and reel is to provide them with the choice to engage in fun, low cost outdoor activities. 

    AMIkids Tampa offers prevention and aftercare programs for youth generally between 12 and 16 years of age. Currently serving about 50 students, the school is located at 1730 Maritime Blvd and has been in operation since 1971. 
  • Corporate Dive Control Officer appointed

    by Jorge Mahauad | Oct 04, 2018
    St. Petersburg, FL

    Jorge A. Mahauad, Marine Program and Yacht Donation Marketing Manager was appointed as Corporate Dive Control Officer position for AMIkids yesterday.

    The Corporate Dive Control Officer (CDCO) oversees Dive Safety Officers (DSO) in programs with independent dive operations and supervises overall compliance with legal and safety standards. The CDCO also executes dive programs in schools without the resources to execute independent dive operations from the AMIkids Inc. home office in Tampa and Boatyard in St. Petersburg.

    AMIkids Dive Control Officer

    "I look forward to working with our programs in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade North Miami-Dade South, Panama City Marine Institute, Beaufort, Baton Rouge and Savannah River closely and also to developing new dive programs in Jacksonville and Southwest Florida soon",  he said.

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  • AMIkids Manatee youth experiences fishing in Tampa Bay

    by Jorge Mahauad | Sep 26, 2018

    On Monday, three youth from AMIkids Manatee departed from our boatyard in St. Petersburg to experience fishing in the seagrass flats of Tampa Bay. This experience is part of the AMIkids Marine Education Program and is designed to engage at-risk youth in outdoor marine activities with a focus in environmental education.

     

    The Tampa Bay fishing experience is conducted by expert fisherman Kent Reinehart, Director of Compliance at AMIkids and the AMIkids Marine Education team. During this fishing experience we were able to talk about different species of fish caught including trout, mangrove snapper, stingrays and remoras.



    The AMIkids Marine Education Program is an initiative designed to offer these experiences to at-risk youth. AMIkids Inc. is committed to funding the Marine Education Program and it's expansion through partnerships within the outdoor adventure, maritime industry and other related partners in the private and public sectors.

    Learn more or Donate