Jacqueline Lettieri, a fourth-grade teacher at Walgrove Avenue Elementary School in Mar Vista, joined a coral reef research team in the Virgin Islands in August.

This involved a seven-day trip that featured a study of human and natural impacts on the St. John and St. Thomas Islands coastal marine environment.

Lettieri and seven other Earthwatch Institute volunteers received on-site training from University of Technology, Australia research professors.

The volunteers assisted the professors by conducting snorkel surveys of mangrove fauna, shallow subtidal rocky reefs, sea-grass bed density and rocky intertidal marine communities.

Working in teams of two and four, the volunteers also identified and measured fish, corals, urchins, sea cucumbers and gastropods.

The Helen and Peter Bing Foundation sponsored Lettieri’s trip to attend Earthwatch’s education fellowship program.

Every year, more than 400 teachers worldwide receive fellowships to take part in Earthwatch research expeditions.