On May 2, Kathleen Sheridan and Dana Moore, International Programs, joined Latasha Wright, chief scientist with the New York City BioBus, and Ron Verdonk, Foreign Agricultural Service minister-counselor in Cairo, for the launch of the Red Sea Defender. The boat will provide an innovative mobile environmental education program as its sails along Egypt’s Red Sea coast. The Forest Service collaborated with local Egyptian organization Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association to develop the science and environmental education programs that will be delivered on the boat.
The Red Sea Defender will host regular field trips of 25–100 students from public schools in Egypt, targeting third- to 10th-graders. The curriculum is designed to engage young people from the Red Sea region in dynamic, hands-on science experiments that showcase the region’s unique biodiversity and ecological resources. Through exposure to the Red Sea Defender programs, they will be introduced to responsible and sustainable environmental practices, inquiry-based learning and problem-solving, and also have opportunities to use state-of-the-art microscopes—all concepts and equipment that are not typically available in Egyptian public schools.
Many from this area grow up and rely on the Red Sea for their livelihoods, primarily through fisheries and tourism. This program aims to foster excitement for the environment, increase awareness of environmental challenges and offer avenues for youth to be part of environmental solutions. Local partner Heba Shawky, managing director of HEPCA, said, “The future of the Red Sea depends on environmentally conscious youth with an appreciation of its natural resources.”