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Program summary: STaRS (Student Training as Research Scientists) is a year-long marine science field research training program culminating in an in-person project presentation of the research experience. 


We are excited to launch STaRS for adults 18+ years old!


  1. Increasing scientific literacy and understanding of the scientific process

  2. Obtain experience and exposure to field research tools, techniques, and marine science advisors/mentors

  3. Understand how science and research can influence policy and action steps for conservation

  4. Learn how to read and understand scientific literature

  5. Complete and present an independent project using skills you learn along the way


We have just released our first Adult STaRS project, Bigg's Orca STaRS in partnership with Orca Behavior Institute, learn more below!


Qualifications to enroll in Bigg's Orca STaRS for 2023:

  • Ability to attend 4 out of 5 in-person boat trips on the schedule listed below (2 virtual-only spots, with 1 optional boat trip are available)

  • Available for ~30 hours of virtual instruction + reading assignments

  • Commitment to the in-person project presentation in Anacortes, January 14, 2024 (unless you are in the virtual option)

  • Willingness to learn public speaking, use and access Discord, Google Sheets, and Google Maps


Bigg's Orca STaRS Summary: 

This year-long course features monthly group virtual instruction and discussions with Monika Wieland Shields, five field excursions on the water, and one-on-one mentorship and feedback as you conduct an independent project working with Orca Behavior Institute data. 



If you have an interest in gaining a better understanding of the scientific process, the adult orca STaRS program may be for you. Regardless of your background, the focus of this program will be on improving scientific literacy while participating in Bigg’s killer whale research.


You will learn how to read and discuss scientific papers, collect data in the field, and create graphs and maps based on existing data sets, all while investigating seasonal movement patterns of Bigg’s killer whales in the Salish Sea.

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Take a look at the 2023 schedule. Sign up for Group D, Group E, or Group F. The only difference in D and E are the times of the boat trips. Group F is the 80% virtual option, only two spots available.   


The very first boat trip will be as a whole group and leave from San Juan Island. The remaining boat trips will be small group and embark from Anacortes, WA with The Salish Sea School.  


Note: While a goal of this program is to include multiple field experiences, we recognize there is interest in participating for those who live outside the region. To accommodate this, we are offering two additional class seats that are 80% virtual (Group F). These will include all the virtual sessions, independent project work, a virtual presentation, and an initiation to attend the full-group researcher visit and boat trip on San Juan Island in March.

Timeline for STaRS 2023

  • Enrollment closes December 30, 2023

  • January 9, 2023 @ 6:30PM- Virtual introductions 

  • February to November - Virtual lessons and field excursions

  • Sunday in January 2024, 3-4PM - in-person poster presentation in Anacortes - Adults must commit to be present for the final project poster presentation (virtual option excluded). 

Note:  We have a payment plan options available. 

Orca STaRS Group D - SOLD OUT
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