Florida Reef Experience

Spend your summer in the warm waters of Florida as you learn about the vital importance of conserving coral reefs from the experts at The Reef Institute.

You’ll join the research team in Palm Beach County as they work on several ongoing conservation projects, doing everything from in-water monitoring to diagnosing & treating Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.

Prepare for the future

Florida’s coral reefs are an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem and they’re disappearing. During your time at the Florida Reef Experience, you’ll contribute to the vital conservation efforts of The Reef Institute. That means you can look forward to:
  • Data collection runs to monitor coral and fish conditions and perform coral tagging
  • Time in the land-based nursery to learn about the latest innovations in coral conservation like gene banking
  • Excursions to Peanut Island, a natural habitat that promotes the growth of several healthy coral colonies

By attending the Florida Reef Experience, you can earn up to 30 research hours, which can be included alongside an application to vet school.

2024 Program Dates & Tuition

  • 7 Days
  • July 14–20
  • $3,595

What’s Included

Daily Breakfast & Lunch

Comfortable Accommodations

15:1 Teaching Vet-to-Student Ratio

Up to 30 research hours

Program Highlights

Data Collection

You’ll receive on-the-spot training in data collection as you perform in-water monitoring of stony and soft corals and fish populations. You’ll then analyze your data in the lab or right there on the research boat.

Peanut Island

Home to at least 20 different species of corals, the lagoon at Peanut Island is also home to eels, fish, turtles, sea horses, manatees, and even the occasional shark. You’ll spend several days here exploring, tagging coral, and identifying fish species.

Next-Gen Technology

The Reef Institute currently houses over 329 colonies of coral in their land-based nursery. You’ll go behind-the-scenes of this cutting-edge research facility to learn about the latest innovations in conservation technology.

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

This barrier island habitat protects rare and endangered plant and animal species from the elements. You can look forward to exploring the beautiful beach and the thick mangrove forest on your hunt for diverse flora and fauna.

Your Adventure, Day by Day

Day 1

Arrival in Florida

  • Orientation and Welcome Dinner

Day 2

Introduction to Coral Restoration

  • Setting Expectations & Reviewing General Techniques
  • Facility Tour
  • Lesson: Identifying Coral Disease
  • Coral Lab I and II

Day 3

Coral Restoration Efforts

  • Travel to Peanut Island
  • Coral Monitoring and Data Collection
  • Lesson: Sedimentation

Day 4

Fish Behavior and Reef Ecosystems

  • Blue Heron Bridge Excursion
  • Explore John MacArthur State Park
  • Lesson: Ecosystems

Day 5

Ocean Identification

  • Travel to Peanut Island
  • Coral Data Collection & Fish Identification Activity
  • Lesson: Seahorse and Ray Ecology

Day 6

Final Day at Peanut Island

  • Travel to Peanut Island
  • Coral Tagging Project
  • Farewell Dinner

Day 7


The events included in this itinerary are subject to minor changes before your program.

Please note: You will be in the water during this program. Participants should be confident swimmers. This program does not require or include diving.

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What some of our students and their parents are saying…

This was the best, life changing experience. I loved the staff and other students. Overall, I learned many useful skills.”

This program allowed me to not only gain more career experience but social experience as well. I was able to learn so much while I was here while also having fun. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone interested.”

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For the safety of students, staff, and animals, not all animals may be touched or handled by participants. The teaching veterinarian and other professional staff members will advise students of the proper time, place, and method to handle animals when it is safe to do so.