Today 16 students from Restore Belize's I am Belize Scholarship Program went on a 5 day all expense paid trip to Black Bird Caye. These students, who were chosen based on their academic performance, will get a crash course in marine ecology. They'll be conducting scientific experiments and collecting data on marine life and of course enjoying the jewel's sunshine and waters - all with the goal of bringing these students closer to their environment. We spoke with the eager group this afternoon.

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
These parents won't be seeing their sons and daughters for 5 days and came to the Princess Marina to see them off.

That is because these students will be spending that time on Blackbird Caye on a marine ecology field trip.

And for them, it will be new adventure.

Shaniya Pelayo, 16, Anglican Cathedral College
"I've never been to the Black Bird Caye before, but I look forward to dissect the Lionfish and also to swim with dolphins. I have never done those things before."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Have you heard anything about the Caye before this trip?"

Shaniya Pelayo
"No, I have no idea."

Gilroy Clother, 18, Anglican Cathedral College Student
"We are going to be swimming with dolphins, dissect the Lionfish, hiking and talking to each other and try to get to know each other better and be more acquainted with the sea."

William Lewis, 13, Wesley College Student
"I think it is a good opportunity because we will learn to experience new things in the society and learn about new areas and we can get the opportunity to go different places."

Tammara Hemsley, 17, Edward P. York School
"I haven't heard about Black Bird Caye before and I am looking forward to go snorkeling."

Courtney Weatherburne
"How long are you guys going to stay?"

Tammara Hemsley, 17, Edward P. York School
"For 5 days."

Courtney Weatherburne
"You got everything packed already and ready for this experience?"

Tammara Hemsley
"Yup."

According to the coordinators, they are deserving of this fun experience. But a part from that - connecting with the environment is crucial.

Courtney Weatherburne
"Pretty much, the purpose of this trip is to reach them about the surroundings. I think in the release it also said that there will be several experimental projects, scientific projects that they will be doing. But apart from the educational aspect, this is pretty much a treat for them, doing well in school, passing and making sure they are working towards the standards of the scholarship."

Judith Enriquez, Community Liaison Officer - Restore Belize
"And it's also awareness. Because as I always say, most of the students lives here in the city and they are not aware of what's going on out there on the reef and the reef is one of the most important place here in the country. So, the students, they will be aware of what's going on out there."

Jeremy Enriquez, Belize Program Manager, Ecology Project
"What we hope they could get out of it is a deep appreciation... it is a start for them to get a deep appreciation of Belize's marine environment. Hopefully, in the long medium term, they will also learn about Belize's terrestrial and cultural environments. For too often we have foreign students and tourists and foreigners enjoying our environment and we are very detached and so hopefully we will build a critical mass over a few years for people to feel in love and attached to Belize's environment."

They will be returning on Tuesday at 10 in the morning. Starting from today until May trips are being organized for students from other high schools in the city to travel to Calabash Caye and the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

Channel 7