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Addressing climate change in coastal communities and ecosystems in Carteret County, NC

Marine Lab - NEW FOR 2020!
Dates June 1 - July 26
Program Focus

Supporting local organizations with educational and ecological goals unique to rural coastal counties dealing with the socio-economic difficulties of climate change – increased storms, collapsing fisheries, and sea level rise.

Program Leaders
Service Themes
  • Community Development & Outreach
  • Education & Literacy
  • Environment & Conservation
  • No Foreign Language Requirement

DukeEngage-Marine Lab Overview

Students in this program will work with the Community Science Initiative (CSI) at the Duke Marine Lab, an initiative that increases community engagement through research. By working with the CSI’s community partners, students will be partnered with trusted community groups and contributing to on-going environmental, educational and restoration projects. For example, students may work on shoreline restorations, create micro-business plans around shoreline restoration products, assist schools with STEM programs to create opportunities for rural students, run environmental and STEM education programs (based on local ecological issues) with local Boys and Girls clubs, and/or work with non-profit groups to assist rural communities with changes related to sea level rise.


Goals for Students

  • Recognize the complex nature of how sea level rise and global climate change affects NC communities and gain an understanding of how the environmental, economic, and social effects of climate change affect local residents
  • Learn about the unique set of issues that rural non-profits face and see how non-profits make positive environmental and social change
  • Develop an appreciation for the complexity of global climate change and how that complexity affects local peoples in NC

Partnership Opportunities

Potential partners are listed below. Please note that the exact projects and partners will be determined in the spring, and not all opportunities listed below will be offered every year. We will do our best to match you with your preferred community partner, but because we work with ever-changing community needs, students must be willing to work with all partners.

Marine Lab Community Science Initiative: Work may include: connecting research to outreach programming. Examples include creating citizen science projects, mentoring high-school students interested in environmental science, and delivering STEM outreach projects at local summer programs.

NC Coastal Federation:Work may include: restoring hardened shorelines to living shorelines (i.e., marsh grass planting, oyster reef building, etc.), help with restoration education in the community.

Wildlife Resource Commission (WRC): Work may include: helping with wildlife conservation projects, including monitoring sea turtle habitats.

Core Sound Museum: Work may include: creating exhibits about sea level change and coastal resiliency, and running summer programs at the museum.

Carteret County Schools: Work may include: developing programming and academic support for rural schools in Carteret County.

Boys and Girls Clubs: Beaufort, Morehead City: Work may include: running summer programs and mentoring youth at the local units.

The Bridge (after school summer program): Work may include: running summer programs and mentoring youth.

Town of Beaufort: Work may include: creating programs and policies to help residents improve local water quality, mitigate storm water runoff, and restore shoreline habitat.

Cape Lookout National Seashore (US Park Service): Work may include: creating/running visitor based environmental education programs and helping with park restoration (from Hurricane Dorian).


Program Requirements

Students must be comfortable working in rural communities and comfortable in the heat during the summer. Coastal NC is beautiful; however, some of the restoration and outreach work will be outside and students will get dirty and hot.


Program Details

Description of community: Carteret County has similar indicators to North Carolina Counties as a whole and is ranked in the middle Tier (of 3) on North Carolina’s annual ranking of economic well-being.  However, there is significant variability across the east-west gradient of the county, with the majority of wealth and development on the western side of the county, and below-average household incomes and higher levels of poverty, especially among children, on the eastern side (where the marine lab and the majority of partners are located).  For example, North Carolina schools are ranked individually in the Tier system, and schools in Eastern Carteret County are all Tier 1, meaning over 50% of students qualify for federally assisted free lunch.


Housing and meals:  Shared residence in Beaufort or Morehead City.  Students will likely share rooms, and prepare their own food. (A kitchen will be accessible.)


Local Safety, Security, and Cultural Norms: If you have special needs related to health, cultural, or religious practices, please contact the DukeEngage office,, to discuss whether or not your needs can be reasonably accommodated in this program.

For information related to how your religion, race, sexual/gender identity, ability or other aspects of your identity might impact your travels, we recommend starting with the Diversity, Identity and Global Travel section of the DukeEngage website.


Reflection and enrichment: Coastal NC is an amazing place for enrichment activities. The marine lab sponsors sunset sailing cruises, canoe/kayak opportunities, visits to the Duke AquaFarm, as well as day trips to the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Shackelford Banks, and more.


Curricular Connections

While all students are welcome to apply, this program may be of particular interest to students studying environmental science and/or environmental education (including STEM education). This program could appeal to any student interested in ecology, environmental sciences, microbiology, sociology, biology, education, and political ecology. The Marine Lab is an inter-disciplinary campus, and there are faculty who work on all aspects of environmental and coastal issues. Because of the intimate nature of the Marine Lab, students will have ample opportunity before, during and after the program to talk with faculty about local research, studying at the Marine Lab, and coastal issues.