Savannah, Ga. – Fifty middle and high school students from states across the Southeast will learn how to successfully implement ocean conservation projects in their local communities as part of Georgia’s first Youth Ocean Conservation Summit Feb. 28 at the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island.
The daylong workshop is being held by UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach.
The Georgia summit, the first for the state, is organized by Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education interns Cara Lin, Beth Smith, Maeve Snyder and Sean Russell.
Russell founded the first Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in 2011 at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. Since then, the summit has expanded to reach youth audiences across the nation.
“The summit provides an incredible opportunity for students to come together with their peers, learn about ocean conservation issues in their local communities, and work to address these challenges with action-oriented solutions,” said Russell.
Local experts will teach participants about ocean conservation and advocacy, in the setting of a barrier island ecosystem. Ocean conservation topics to be covered during the summit include marine debris, citizen science, habitat restoration and endangered species. Students will brainstorm and develop conservation project plans to implement in their communities, and will attend workshops on fundraising, marketing and methods to communicate conservation messages.
After the summit the student participants will have access to continued support through the Youth Ocean Conservation Team, a global network of young people engaged in ocean conservation work.
“When you put students in a room and give them a problem, there is nothing more exciting than to see the gears start turning,” said Smith, a Duanesburg, New York native who graduated with a degree in marine biology from the University of New England in 2013. “This is a unique opportunity to get them out of their traditional classrooms and into a place that might be completely new to them. It will open up doors to different possibilities, not only with their current extracurricular activities but also to future career paths.”
Intern Cara Lin is from Stony Brook, on Long Island, New York. She graduated from Stony Brook University in 2014, with a degree in marine sciences. Maeve Snyder grew up in Clemson, South Carolina, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Coastal Carolina University in 2014 with a biology degree.
“In order to help improve the health of our ocean, we can no longer afford to think of young people as leaders of the future,” Russell said. “Young people must be engaged as ocean conservation leaders today.”
The Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Internship Program began in 1987. The program awards one-year internships to four recent graduates to serve as educators for the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island. Interns live onsite for 50 weeks, and teach students from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Interns also conduct outreach at local schools by judging science fair projects, teaching during science nights and field-testing their educational curricula. Georgia Sea Grant is now accepting applications for interns for the 2015-2016 academic year. For more information, see http://marex.uga.edu/sea_grant_internship/.
UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
The University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant are a state and federal partnership dedicated to conducting research, education and outreach to enhance coastal environmental, social and economic sustainability. As units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, they help improve public resource policy, encourage far-sighted economic and fisheries decisions, anticipate vulnerabilities to change and educate citizens to be wise stewards of the coastal environment. Georgia Sea Grant is one of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the country housed under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, see http://marex.uga.edu or http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu.
Note to media: Student registration for this event has closed. Media wishing to cover the event should make arrangements in advance by contacting Anne Lindsay, 912-598-2355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.