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MarineLab's History

MarineLab is the education arm of Marine Resources Development Foundation (MRDF), a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1970 in the US Virgin Islands. After years of conducting research and developing underwater research stations and the technology for living and working in the sea, MRDF's founder Ian Koblick turned his eyes towards Florida and expanding MRDF's activities to include education.

Broward studentsIn 1984, the MarineLab Undersea Classroom was put in the turning basin of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The first students to be part of a MarineLab program came from Broward County, FL, and spent at least one night in the undersea classroom. In 1985, a property nearby was acquired with its own lagoon, and the MarineLab Undersea Classroom was relocated. The facility was renovated to provide dorms, an exisiting restaurant building was renovated as a cafeteria, and boats were acquired. The first snorkeling MarineLab program was offered in 1985.

In 1986, Art Mitchell, a former Palm Beach County science teacher, took over the direction of the MarineLab program. He created the curriculum and the programs that built attendance over the course of five years from a few hundred to a few thousand students per year. Ginette Hughes joined the team in late 1986 as the "booking secretary" and the two cooperated in creating what is essentially the same MarineLab program that our students experience today. The combination of discussion, exploration, and reinforcement of concepts was - and is - highly succeesful and highly popular. Some of those early students have gone on to become teachers and are now bringing their students to MarineLab! Art retired in 2007; Ginette Hughes is still with the program, joined now by Education Director Jessica Dockery and Curriculum Director Sarah Egner. They continue to fine tune the program, adapting to numerous regulatory changes along the way, and keeping the curriculum up to date with the most current scientific research.

MarineLab's Mission Statement

To use education and adventure in the Florida Keys ecosystem
to foster environmental awareness and stewardship on a local, regional, and global scale.