Mangrove die-off on Abaco
In 2014, Dr. Rossi was in The Bahamas investigating a mangrove die-off on the island of Abaco, when she discovered a fungus was infecting the mangroves. She worked with a Bahamian non-profit organization, Friends of the Environment, to expand her study area and look for the fungal pathogen in healthy mangrove forests. But there were only so many mangrove leaves she could look at on her own. She dreamed of enlisting local school children to study fungal pathogens, participating in a citizen-science program and learning new skills in the process.
In 2017, that dream became a reality through a partnership with Friends of the Environment and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. Together, they developed a mangrove disease curriculum and citizen science program for high school students in Abaco. The organizations then incorporated the curriculum into their existing Mangrove Outreach & Education programs in The Bahamas and Jamaica, bringing this citizen science program to high school science classrooms in both countries. Now, with funding from the National Geographic Society, we will expand this citizen-science program across the Caribbean and develop new curriculum to engage the next generation of ocean scientists. We are thrilled to form partnerships with new organization and schools and look forward to working with them to make new discoveries about diseases that threaten our mangrove forests.