Emily Conklin - Sailors for the Sea

Emily Conklin

Emily is a marine biologist with a focus on science communication and environmental education. Originally hailing from Connecticut, Emily earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and French Studies at Wheaton College MA before returning to her hometown to teach biology at Suffield Academy. She then enrolled in the Three Seas Master’s program through Northeastern University, a life-changing experience that took her from Boston to Panama to the San Juan Islands. This program set her down the science communication path with the goal of connecting communities to the marine environment and actionable, accessible conservation. She is passionate about engaging with the outdoors and ensuring ocean health for generations to come. Emily is excited to serve as Sailors for the Sea Program Manager where she will oversee our Clean Regattas and Skippers volunteer programs to engage and activate sailors and boaters to become involved in sustainability and ocean advocacy. 

Outside of her marine science and communications work, Emily is an avid birder. She enjoys any opportunity to explore outdoor spaces through birding, SCUBA diving, and hiking. She moved to Newport in 2020 where she now lives with her partner and their two cats. She believes that every day where you can watch a bird fly, take a breath of salt air, and/or eat an ice cream cone is a day well spent. 

What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
It was always a struggle to get me out of the water as a child; my mom used to say my sister and I were part fish! We spent summers at the CT shore and Misquamicut Beach in RI, where I would splash in the waves and collect seashells to bring home. I have always been curious about what is taking place underwater, and decided at the ripe age of 7 that I was going to be a marine biologist when I grew up. 

What is the biggest threat to preserving the ocean and local waters for future generations?
Climate change is the biggest threat facing our Earth, including and especially the ocean. Under this umbrella, my opinion is that the biggest threats are warming temperatures and pollution. Ocean warming and related ocean acidification are changing marine habitats so rapidly that marine animals – and plants! – can’t adapt quickly enough to keep up. These changes, along with contaminants entering the ocean through runoff and direct sources, are so stressful for those that call the ocean home. We must act to reduce pollution and mitigate climate change to protect the health of the ocean and of humanity. 

Why did you choose to get involved with an organization focused on ocean conservation?
I am energized by interacting with others and helping folks to understand and engage with the great outdoors. We live on an amazing planet that has been systematically misunderstood and mistreated. It is both my responsibility and my privilege to defend the natural world from negative human impacts. Our greatest impact comes from the work we do together. I am honored to have a position with an ocean conservation organization that does so much to understand the marine environment, address human needs reliant on the ocean, and protect our irreplaceable natural resources. 

What was your “aha moment” that turned you into a conservationist? 
I don’t think there was one single moment, but rather a combination of growing up in the water and being a sensitive soul that feels innately responsible for the wellbeing of the people and environment around me. As long as I have been a science student, I have been learning about the degradation of coastal and marine environments. Under these conditions, it is easy to get discouraged and be pessimistic about our future. My conservation drive comes from the amazing work coastal communities and marine-oriented organizations are doing on a regular basis to protect the ocean they love, and from the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world.