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Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium were recently awarded the Spirit of Cooperation Award by Community Pride, Inc. of Charleston County.

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (SCSGC) were recently awarded the Spirit of Cooperation Award by Community Pride, Inc. of Charleston County. CCPRC and SCSGC won the award for a partnership with Clemson’s Carolina Clear Program and the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Lab for their BioDiscovery Project.

The award is presented by Community Pride, Inc. of Charleston County, a non-profit organization that promotes environmental stewardship among all Charleston County citizens. The Spirit of Cooperation Award is given to organizations that have partnered to undertake projects that have significantly improved the environment, and have been sustainable for a minimum of one year. CCPRC, in partnership with SCSGC along with the other partners, launched the BioDiscovery Project in 2018. This project was funded by the Bosch Community Fund in an effort to promote STEM education and environmental stewardship in grades K-12.

The BioDiscovery Project invited 10 teachers from across South Carolina to participate in the program, in which teachers and their students constructed racks, using sampling devices called bioracks. These racks were launched in local bodies of water and were monitored throughout the school year. In addition to the rack materials, teachers also received a projection microscope to participate in a field experience in a county park with access to a data portal to upload and share the data collected. CCPRC and SCSGC founded and administer the program. The two organizations also partnered with experts to provide education and support to participating teachers. Individuals from the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Lab and Clemson’s Carolina Clear program provided instruction to teachers in a one-day workshop about constructing and using the sampling devices.

In an effort to continue expanding the project, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, along with the South Carolina Aquarium, Patriot’s Point and Roper Mountain Science Center have all agreed to serve as a testing site for this project for the upcoming school year. Additionally, a new cohort of teachers have also agreed to participate, spanning from schools in the upstate and down to the coast.

The South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium is a university-based program that supports the use and conservation of the coastal resources along the South Carolina coast to create a sustainable economy and environment. The mission of CCPRC is to improve the quality of life in Charleston County by offering a diverse system of park facilities, programs and services.