The money is part of the proceeds generated for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation from the $2 Florida Lottery scratch-off ticket depicting artwork created by Harvey.
The value of conservation education for children “is key in this frantic society,” Harvey said.
Kurt Allen, general manager of the attraction, said the money will fund two programs: sponsored admission and long-distance learning.
“We will use part of it as grant money that we give to Title 1 schools (elementary schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families), who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in field trips,” Allen said.
Long-distance learning is a new program in the works, he said. The goal is to have live video feeds in classrooms that can provide educational opportunities for students in any school, anywhere in the country.
“It’s all about education,” Allen said. “We want to be able to reach more students. With this, we can have (tablet computers) and film what is going on in the tanks that kids will be able to see as it is happening.”
Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell spoke of Marineland’s groundbreaking research and dedication to education. Her late husband, Stephen C. O’Connell, while president of the University of Florida, helped found the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience.
“We share Marineland’s enthusiasm for education,” she said.
Barrie Terman, 4, was at Marineland with her mother, Natalie Terman, on Thursday to take advantage of the waived admission fee because of the check presentation.
Barrie shook her head “yes” when her mother asked if she wanted to be a marine biologist one day.
“They check the water,” Barrie said, before adding a few facts she learned about dolphins as she made her way to the viewing window. “They eat fish, and they like pictures.”
Allen said she’s right about checking the water.
“Life support. We call keeping the water clean ‘life support,’ ” he said. “It’s an advanced science. You can see with the construction up front that we are working on more holding tanks for new exhibits, including turtles. We’ll be able to have additional field trips and educational opportunities.”