The UCSB Marine Science Institute (MSI) recently received a grant to allow students to have more hands-on time with some slimy sea creatures.

The Shoreline Preservation Fund (SPF), a UCSB student group that works to preserve the coastline, presented the institute with a $13,060 grant Oct. 15. The money will go toward the MSI’s Education and Outreach Internship program, which offers undergraduate students a chance to teach visitors and school children in kindergarten through 12th grade about marine science.

Ninety percent of the grant will go toward the salaries of about 20 interns and the remaining money will go toward supplies and equipment, according to the institute’s official grant proposal. SPF has yet to decide the time period over which the money will be distributed, said Sarah Hooper, an undergraduate representative on the Shoreline Preservation Fund board of directors.

“The distribution of the grant depends on the needs of the project,” she said. “We work very closely with MSI and see what they need.”

Dr. Ali Whitmer, MSI director of education, said interns in the program lead tours throughout the institute and to the center’s touch tanks. The tanks contain a variety of sea creatures – everything from sharks to sea slugs.

“The Education and Outreach Internship program is for undergraduate students interested in the marine sciences,” Whitmer said. “Students apply to be interns and we typically look for interest in science and some background in science course work.”

The outreach program works in conjunction with the Research Experience and Education Facility (REEF), MSI’s aquarium. REEF is home to the touch-tank program, which attracts more than 7,000 visitors per year who want to learn about marine life through hands-on interaction. Whitmer said REEF was established over a year ago.

According to its website, the SPF was founded in 1999 when the group organized the campuswide Beachsweep Program. UCSB students pay a $3 per-student per-quarter lock-in fee to support the SPF, and the group considers grant requests from all student organizations registered with Office of Student Life.

“We pay student organizations to clean up the beach and the streets,” said Scott Bull, SPF grants manager. “Pretty much, our mission is to be a coastal enhancement fund. We fund projects to enhance the shoreline, and we conduct research, reconstruction and educational programs.”

SPF has given grants to several other institutes and programs in the recent years, such as the South Coast Watershed Resource Center and the Arroyo Hondo Preserve Habitat Restoration Internship Program. Last year, the SPF granted $12,672 to the MSI internship program.

“We grant a total of about $130,000 to $150,000 a year on a range of 25 to 40 projects,” Bull said.

Hooper said the board of directors decides who receives grant money.

“We look at each proposal on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Hooper said. “We then give grants based on the proposal’s own merit, not its relativity to others. Our mission statement is our main guideline.”