Aquarium Youth Volunteers Speak In Washington D.C.

December 15, 2006

Four youths attended the 2nd National Summit on Oceans and Coasts

Four Oregon Coast Aquarium youth volunteers delivered a presentation at the National Summit on Oceans and Coasts in Washington D.C. December 5-8. Alice Anderson of Corvallis, Alexander Rose of Yachats, Lauren Dimock of Alsea and Jenna Browning-Kamins of Corvallis presented their project, titled Rockfish Bycatch; An In Depth Study, which tackles problems that include misidentification and barotrauma in rockfish.

Most of the other students in this program worked on their projects in school, but these youth volunteers worked extra hard on their own time and they did a great job fine-tuning and delivering their presentation.” said Renee Rensmeyer, Aquarium Youth Volunteer Coordinator, who accompanied the students to Washington D.C. Rensmeyer said the project looks at problems with rockfish bycatch and proposed some very well thought out solutions.

Students presented their action plan to senior Bush Administrative officials, including representatives from the White House, Federal Environmental agencies and leading ocean scientists. Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Jim Connaughton explained to the students what led him to his current position, “The single most thing that defines your future is passion.” Dr. Sylvia Earle, Ocean Explorer and National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, encouraged the students saying, “You have power, you have a voice, you can make a difference. Your realization that you can make a difference is the key.”

Other speakers and experts responding to the student’s recommendations on ocean issues included:

  • Dr. Bob Ballard – best known for his discovery of the Titanic in 1985
  • Congressman Sam Farr, Co-Chair House Oceans Caucus
  • Congressman Thomas Allen, Co-Chair House Oceans Caucus
  • Daniel Basta – Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
  • David Kennedy – Director in the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management for NOAA Donald Schregardus – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, Navy

Last year the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Oregon Coast Aquarium signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center. The co-partnership designation by Coastal America combines the resources of the two facilities. Coastal America and its network of Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers (CELCs) hosted the summit, a three day academic experience for 120 high school students and educators providing a unique combination of science and other disciplines.

Student delegations from each CELC researched ocean and coastal issues for their regions, determined solutions and developed an action plan involving their community which they will implement locally. Nineteen student delegations from across the nation presented plans of action and recommendations for ocean and coastal protection at the summit before national experts and policy leaders. The student delegates participated in open dialogue with key White House and Congressional officials. Workshops offered students the opportunity to develop outreach and media messages for national awareness. Each day featured prominent speakers, visits at Washington area attractions, and meetings with Presidential and Congressional representatives.

“These are some of our nation’s top students who may be the future leaders responsible for managing our coasts and oceans,” said Virginia K. Tippie, Director of Coastal America. “These students have worked very hard to get here and we are pleased to be able to provide this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to present their projects to top-level administrators and decision makers in Washington. The enthusiasm and commitment of the students is truly amazing.”