For this meeting of HerChesapeake, we started branching out into the rest of the watershed! We held our May meeting in Baltimore on the waterfront at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Two exciting things happened at this meeting: we heard from a group we’ve admired and wanted to invite to HerChesapeake for a long time, Black Girls Dive, and we introduced our new member benefits!
Black Girls Dive
Our speaker was Dr. Nevada Winrow, one of the founders of Black Girls Dive, an organization that empowers African American girls and women to “explore their STEM identities” by engaging in aquatic-based STEM activities. They do this through a multi-year program that integrates science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts, and math through scuba diving.
Beyond empowering women to get involved in STEM, Black Girls Dive also aims to fight the narrative that has been an obstacle to these women having opportunities in this field in the past. Seventy percent of African Americans do not know how to swim, and this is a direct result of the history of racism and segregation in America, preventing black and brown people from having access to swimming and recreation.
Dr. Winrow told us the inspiration for Black Girls Dive came from a meeting.. While attending the National Association of Black Scuba Divers Association’s annual summit, Dr. Winrow and other women noticed the lack of representation of women in the field. So they decided to set out and start a foundation to expose young girls to swimming. From there, they integrated components of STEM, and now have multiple programs to provide women support from middle school all the way through college. These women are involved with these programs for seven to nine years in total.
The STREAMs program—which stands for science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts, and mathematics—is designed for girls nine to seventeen years old, and teaches them to be scientific divers. The program includes activities like building and operating underwater remote vehicles to help study underwater ecosystems.
Now, they’re almost ready to launch the CORAL Project: Children Engaged in Ocean Research and Active Learning. This program is for six- to nine-year-olds. It focuses on snorkeling and ocean research and understanding healthy oceans. The idea is that as these girls progress through these programs, the activities and skills build on themselves, and each project becomes more sophisticated.
As for the girls’ experience during the program, Dr. Winrow added, “The commonality is that they love learning, and they don’t feel like they’re being silenced, so they get to nerd out together. They have that space, that opportunity to develop that STEM identity. That is about seeing people who look like you, and developing the habits and mind of a scientist, so they engage in science and have other scientists validate their work.”
When asked what we as HerChesapeake could do to help these women in their mission, Dr. Winrow responded that giving their students more opportunities to engage in conservation activities with other women, and providing opportunities to listen to other people’s passion about the environment. HerChesapeake plans to keep in touch with Dr. Winrow and Black Girls Dive to support these amazing women going forward.
The second large topic brought up in our May meeting was the introduction of membership benefits. Later this year, HerChesapeake will launch a two-tier membership program. Green Membership—which will include many of the benefits we offer now—may be purchased at no cost, while Blue Membership—which will afford additional benefits—may be purchased for $25 per person per year. Membership fees will support the operation of our growing organization, as well as the programs we host throughout the year.
For a limited time, we will offer Blue Membership for free! Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you receive news about how to sign up.