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St. Mary Central alumni assists in shark education at alma mater

Updated: Thursday, May 1 2014, 06:54 PM EDT
Martins Ferry, Ohio – A Martins Ferry native is giving a nod to his hometown -- and his grade school -- by assisting in the introduction of the Midwest's first shark education program right here in the Ohio Valley.
St. Mary Central in Martins Ferry is making history when it comes to shark education, previously only available to students thousands of miles away in Florida.
Thursday, students took an educational journey from Martins Ferry all the way to the ocean.
It started with nationally known Marine Wildlife Artist and Scientist Dr. Guy Harvey, a man who spends his time conducting scientific research, or bringing his message for ocean conservation, to the masses.
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation launched a shark education program initially for Florida schools through the Oceanographic School at Nova Southeastern University in South Fla.
Students can study shark species and their important roles in the ecosystem and track sharks via satellite.
And for the first time in the Midwest, Harvey's Shark Education Program is hitting home right here in the Ohio Valley.
This Midwest Pilot Program at St. Mary Central is spearheaded by John Bell, Harvey's publicist and an Ohio Valley native, born and raised in Martins Ferry and a graduate of St. Mary Central.
“He set this up with us and asked us if we'd be interested,” said Paul Stecker, St. Mary Central science teacher. “Of course we jumped on the bandwagon right away.”
Stecker said the shark education program has supplied the students with posters illustrating 19 shark species, documentaries and a tutorial Skype session, which took place Thursday.
Dr. Derek Burkholder, a research associate at Nova Southeastern University, led the kids through a shark synopsis.
“It was cool,” seventh grade student Katherine Eberhart said.
Kids can get on board with these types of changes curriculum.
"When we do something extraordinary like this, I think it's pretty cool,” eighth-grader George Lollathin said.
Students are tracking "tagged" sharks on the computer through an interactive online website, following movements in almost real-time.
In late March, members of the Guy Harvey Research Institute caught 12 mako sharks off the coast of Cancun.
One was even named St. Mary central in honor of the school before each shark was tagged for study and released back into the ocean.

The contact for other schools interested in the shark education program is John Bell. He can be reached via e-mail at:

St. Mary Central alumni assists in shark education at alma mater

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