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Keys College, Mote Marine Lab Form New Partnership

Amber Ernst-Leonard
Florida Keys Community College

Florida Keys Community College, the state’s southernmost institution of higher education, has recently formed a new partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory. Mote is headquartered in Sarasota and has six facilities throughout the state, including one on Summerland Key.

Mote scientists will teach courses at the college, and FKCC students will apprentice at the marine lab, giving them real world experience.

Jonathan Gueverra, FKCC president, said the new partnership will take the college far beyond its traditionally strong program in diving.

“There’s got to be something to dive down there for, and we have to find ways to preserve that,” Gueverra said.

Gueverra said offering real-world experience will be invaluable for Keys students who want to work in marine biology or conservation.

“When you think about where we are in the Keys, our entire future right now hinges on how we conserve and restore the biodiversity that exists in the waters around us,” he said.

And he hopes the program will also help preserve another Keys resource — local talent.

“If we can do this and provide the opportunity for a lot of the young people who live in the Keys to do this here, it also means that we won’t have this brain drain of kids who leave the Keys all the time and then we face the challenge of where do we find capable people to deal with all the marine resource challenges that we have around here,” he said.

And Gueverra said he hopes this program will help the college’s case to start awarding bachelor’s degrees. Currently FKCC only offers associate’s degrees.