Ocean Science Education - Sailors for the Sea

Ocean Science Education

 July 7, 2015  | By: Oceana

During the last week of June, Rhode Island was the place to be for marine education. Sailors for the Sea’s education director, Dr. Shelley Brown attended both the first Global Ocean Science Education (GOSE) Workshop and the National Marine Educators Association’s (NMEA) National Conference.

The GOSE Workshop was held at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. With 60 participants, panelists and speakers from 15 nations, across five continents, speaking 11 different languages, the two-day workshop provided a unique opportunity to meet colleagues from across the globe, engage in stimulating dialog and contribute expertise. Several discussions focused on how we can make local, regional and global issues relevant to individuals to increase understanding, motivate action and change behaviors. The international attendees brought tremendous perspective to these topics. For example, what may be an important local ocean health issue in the United States may differ in Bangladesh or Australia. As we wrapped up the GOSE event, we set priorities for ocean science education, created strong international connections and committed to grow ocean literacy globally. We are so excited to be a part of this international community working at the forefront of ocean education and paving the way for healthier oceans.

The NMEA Conference was held in our own backyard, Newport, RI and brought together over 300 formal and informal marine educators from around the world to promote NMEA’s mission to make known the world of water, both fresh and salt. The conference atmosphere felt almost like a family reunion. The passion for ocean education and literacy was apparent not only during plenary sessions, presentations and workshops, but also during meals, casual conversations and while playing lawn games at Evening by the Bay. Even local students were getting involved and sharing their passion! A Youth Ocean Conservation Satellite Summit was held during the conference, in which youth create their own ocean conservation projects to tackle a threat facing their local marine ecosystem. The week was full of inspiration and hope for our marine and fresh waters.

In collaboration with Jessica Servis from US Sailing and Mary Horrigan from New England Science and Sailing foundation, Shelley presented a session focused on using sailors to create ocean stewards. Since sailors are physically connected to the seas, they are potentially the first ones to see visible ocean health issues (marine debris, fish kills, etc.), and therefore can become a voice for our marine world. All three of our organizations want to empower students and sailors to protect the ocean they all love.

Although we face many challenges in ocean education, everyone that attended the GOSE Workshop and NMEA Conference is dedicated to educating the global community about our precious blue waters. As Associate Director of Lawrence Hall of Science, Craig Strang stated, “creating ocean literate people in one part of the world is insufficient.” Sailors for the Sea unites boaters around the globe and inspires them to take action to protect our ocean.