Joynton examines Florida collaboration for inspiration

ALPENA – Alpena Community College President Olin Joynton recently visited the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Keys Community College to compare the college relationship and involvement with its local sanctuary. He said he was inspired by the trip and was encouraged to further collaborations between the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and ACC.

“I took a tour of the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, adjacent to the administrative offices of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary led by its Superintendent Sean Morton,” he said. “Then, I visited the Florida Keys Community College, where I met the president, the marine technology instructor, and the dean who administered the program. It was a very worthwhile trip.”

According to Joynton, the Florida Keys sanctuary covers approximately 4,000 square miles with education and outreach opportunities on coral and seagrass research, enforcement work with state and federal authorities, and emplacement and maintenance of 300 buoys.

“Their marine technology program has seen steady increases over the past five years and now boasts over 100 students, about half from out of state,” he said. “The diving program is robust … and the ROV program components are also set up very well.”

After returning to Alpena, Joynton said he was encouraged by the support system between the two community entities. He said ACC and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary also have a strong and active partnership that echoes success.

“The collaboration between sanctuaries and community colleges are extremely important and encouraging,” he said. “I think we do it really well here. We have a long list partnerships. We have a really great time working with our sanctuary.”

Some of the partnerships between ACC and the sanctuary include Sanctuary Advisory Council membership and leadership, internet 2 service for live dive broadcasts and other website functions, American Samoa trip, National Endowment for the Humanities Landmark Grant, Workforce Development Award, courses, programs, presentations, historical marine document translation and transcription, Savannah Ocean Exchange, memorial gardens, remotely operated vehicle competition, public access channel broadcasts, annual conference for the North American Society for Ocean History, and computer-aided design.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.