AMIkids Beaufort students help with coastal research project for SCDNR

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Five students from AMIkids Beaufort served as crew members with the Fishery Research Team on the Floating Classroom Research Vessel Orion in mid-August.

The young men served as crew with Captain Gene Clark and First Mate Jay Marshall on the Orion. They spent the day conducting experiments, catching fish and recording data to be shared with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The research is part of a larger S.C. effort to help with conservation efforts.

“This type of experience helps our young men get a better understanding of the coastal Lowcountry and to understand their role in conservation,” AMIkids Beaufort Board of Trustees chairman John Harris said in a release. “It’s also part of our local and national charter, as the non-profit Association of Marine Institutes.”

AMIkids Beaufort is a residential facility in Dale that provides not only education but numerous hands-on educational opportunities, treatment and behavior modification. 

AMIkids partners with community service projects throughout Beaufort County. The program serves young men assigned to the facility through the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, and students work toward their high school equivalency diplomas. 

For the past six years, the young men also have been able to earn nationally-recognized welding and food service certificates to help them with job skills. 

On Aug. 10, the five AMIkids Beaufort students safely navigated Clark’s boat to the local research sites and, after anchoring, they measured the environmental conditions including ambient air temperature, water temperature, barometric pressure, tide flow and water depth, Clark said.

They used a Secchi disk to measure the water turbidity and a salinity refractometer to measure the salinity and specific gravity. After recording the data they fished the site to discover the fish types, sizes, and numbers inhabiting the area. 

The AMIkids students and crew caught and released 27 fin fish including croakers, Southern kingfish, and an Atlantic Sharpnose shark. Three of the Southern kingfish were tagged prior to release. 

“It’s a special opportunity for our young men, and it wouldn’t be possible without the good work and service of Captain Clark and Jay Marshall,” AMIkids Beaufort executive director Matt Kingdom said. “When these young men graduate from our program and return to their homes and move ahead to brighter futures, this is an experience they will carry with them.”

To learn more about AMIkids Beaufort, visit www.amikidsbeaufort.org. 

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