Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Meyer, and I'm one of six students participating in the Spring 2012 Gap Year Program. We're nearing the start of our third week here, but it seems like we've been here much longer than that because we've been so busy! So far, we've been spending a lot of time being exposed to many of the research groups at CEI, such as the aquaponics, aquaculture, patch reef, lionfish, and shark teams. It's nice to have the ability to "scope out" the different aspects of each group before we decide which one interests us most; after we pick a team, we will choose a mentor who will help us with our Independent Student Project that we'll complete by the end of our semester.

In our first week here, we all received our Open Water SCUBA Certifications, and we're going to be starting our Advanced Open Water training next week. At first, diving was really strange to me...it's a whole new world, and I'm still getting used to it! But, because I'm interested in lionfish research, it was neat to see my first in-the-wild lionfish on our last dive before receiving our certifications.

In addition to diving and working with the research groups, we also helped Deep Creek Middle School students prepare for the Junior Junkanoo last week. It was cool to see how all of the hard work put into their presentation finally came together on the day of the Junkanoo! The kids did a really great job.

We stay really busy here, but are really enjoying our time here thus far. This is such a unique opportunity, and I'm looking forward to all the activities planned for the next six weeks!