Colby Johns: Alumna and UMaine science diving assistant earns instructor certification – UMaine News

Colby Johns, a College of Maine alumna who has been working as a UMaine scientific diving assistant since 2017, has efficiently accomplished the Skilled Affiliation of Diving Instructors (PADI) teacher certification. 

UMaine’s Scientific Diving program offers assist and coaching to scientists and college students in utilizing diving as a analysis instrument. It’s primarily based in Walpole alongside the Damariscotta River at UMaine’s Darling Marine Middle.

Johns, who’s from Woodstock Connecticut, obtained a bachelor’s diploma in marine science from UMaine in 2016.

What was your path to getting your dive teacher certification?
I used to be planning my courses for Semester By the Sea, the UMaine residential program in marine sciences on the DMC, and noticed scientific diving was one of many courses supplied. In studying that I wanted to have my fundamental scuba certification first, I rapidly signed up for the essential course supplied each spring at UMaine and was capable of take scientific diving throughout the summer season, combining it with an internship and capstone undertaking with professor Rick Wahle and his college students. I spent the entire summer season on the DMC. That fall, whereas collaborating in Semester By the Sea I used to be capable of safe a divemaster internship supplied by the UMaine Scientific Diving Program. I accomplished my Divemaster certification the next spring.

A yr later, I had graduated and moved on to a desk job that quickly made me understand that sitting behind a desk was not for me. I utilized for a scientific diving assistant place and have been a dive assistant since 2017. 

In October 2020, I attended the PADI Teacher Improvement Course and took the teacher examination. It took two weeks of extraordinarily lengthy nights finding out and getting ready, minimal sleep, and a visit to Pennsylvania for the examination. 

It was all price it. I by no means thought getting my teacher certification could be so tough, however throughout the course of I spotted how lucky I used to be to acquire the quantity of coaching I did with Christopher Rigaud, UMaine’s diving operations supervisor.

How do you at present use your dive abilities?
Since acquiring my divemaster certification, I’ve been honing my abilities as a dive chief to organize for turning into a licensed teacher. I take advantage of what I realized in each my fundamental scuba course and scientific diving course to show college students in Orono and in Walpole, and have grown via every expertise. 

I additionally use my diving skills to assist marine analysis. I’ve labored with professor Damian Brady’s analysis group, deploying coastal oceanographic buoys that present data for aquaculture web site choice and different scientific questions. Each time a Darling Marine Middle-based analysis group wants a diver, I’m all the time glad to supply my abilities. 

How do you hope to make use of your teacher certification sooner or later?
With this certification I hope to assist broaden the alternatives we are able to provide on the College of Maine. Having different instructors on workers will enable UMaine to supply extra dive courses all year long. Working with Chris it provides me the chance to study extra about my instructing strategies as I work with numerous pupil teams.

What has been your greatest dive expertise thus far?
My diving has been principally restricted to Maine waters, however I’ve additionally dove within the tanks on the Georgia Aquarium and lately, at Dutch Springs in Pennsylvania  for my certification. My dives in Vancouver throughout the 2019 AAUS Symposium, stand out to me probably the most. We dove daily for every week. I realized quite a bit as a result of this was the primary actual time I used to be diving with out college students or my supervisor, Chris. There have been no particular goals, or different divers I used to be chargeable for. It was simply us within the water, exploring and dwelling within the second. 

The underwater atmosphere brings such peace, a grounding calm, particularly in these chaotic occasions. After all having a fantastic drysuit to maintain me heat and dry actually helps too. 

What dive location is on the prime of your dream checklist?
I’ve so many locations but to go to, however the coolest one I hold seeing and studying about is the Iceland Silfra Fissure. It’s the solely place on the earth the place you possibly can dive between two continents — and contact them. Nonetheless, I additionally hear that diving beneath Antarctic ice is fairly superior too. 

What has been the perfect half about working with the Scientific Diving program?
The most effective half is that I’m able to study new methods to assist develop and contribute to this system. We frequently educate college students from outdoors of the College of Maine System. These college students could also be from a unique school or college, or people who’re working professionals interested by gaining new abilities. I really like adjusting as we assist meet every pupil’s targets and overcome their challenges. Diving shouldn’t be your typical classroom, that’s for certain. Our college students assist make this class what it’s — a enjoyable, and invigorating studying expertise for all.

What would you inform somebody who’s interested by doing their first dive, or transitioning from an open water certification to scientific diving?
If somebody was interested by scuba diving, I’d encourage them to finish a uncover scuba course. These packages present a  style of what scuba diving is like and whether it is one thing you wish to discover. Whether it is one thing that you simply get pleasure from, then taking a fundamental certification course could be the subsequent step. After you have your fundamental certification, you possibly can start specializing with a course like scientific diving.  

For these transitioning from open water diving to scientific diving, you will need to know scientific diving shouldn’t be like your open water class. It’s activity loaded and element oriented. It’s a school credit-bearing course, so don’t let the “diving” half idiot you. It’s academically rigorous. The scientific diving course prepares you to use diving abilities to your profession, so when you’re enthusiastic about diving and able to take the subsequent step, then I encourage you to take this class. 

How has diving impacted your profession?
Initially, after I started my marine sciences diploma at UMaine, I didn’t see diving as a part of my profession. When this chance did cross my path, I knew it may solely assist me. By no means did I believe I’d be the place I’m at present although. 

I assumed I’d receive my fundamental scuba certification in order that I may get my scientific certification to assist with my profession, and that might be it. Now right here I’m with my Open Water Scuba Teacher Certification. Along side my bachelor’s diploma in marine science, I’m a extra worthwhile asset, and I stay up for giving others the chance to take the same path as mine or just deliver consciousness to a life working underwater that they might not have recognized was potential in any other case. 

Diving has grow to be an enormous a part of who I’m and what I’ve achieved. I owe loads of success to the assist and additional push to advance my diving to each Elisabeth Maxwell who went via the teacher course with me and Chris Rigaud, who continues to be a fantastic mentor at each step. 

Contact: Matthew Norwood,

















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