Aquarium Youth Volunteers Receive Award For Rockfish Project

July 03, 2007

A new Aquarium exhibit is the work of six Aquarium youth volunteers

A new exhibit opened at the Oregon Coast Aquarium this week, the culmination of over six months of work by six Oregon Coast Aquarium youth volunteers. Saving the World One Rockfish at a Time includes a mural which the students painted with Aquarium artist, Michael Cole, a tank with live baby rockfish, a power point presentation and an interactive display which allows visitors to age a rockfish by examining the otolith, or ear bone.

The new exhibit, Saving the World One Rockfish at a Time, began as another project which the students presented at the National Summit on Oceans and Coasts in Washington D.C. last November. The original project, Rockfish Bycatch; An In Depth Study, tackled problems that include misidentification and barotrauma in rockfish.

Each of the students was presented with an award June 23 by Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury for the project. “The ultimate goal of their project is to educate the public on the components of their issue and the steps that can be taken to help reduce unnecessary deaths of rockfish,” said Bradbury. “Please drop by the Oregon Coast Aquarium and learn more about their project.”

The Student Youth volunteers involved in this project include: Alice Anderson from Corvallis High School, Jenna Browning-Kamins from Philomath High School, Lauren Dimock from Alsea High School, Alexander Rose from Newport High School, Hayley Trivett from Newport High School and Erin Schmucker from Dallas High School.

“They did a great job developing and fine-tuning this project,” said Renee Rensmeyer, Aquarium Youth Volunteer Coordinator. “They are also talented artists; their mural is beautiful!” Rensmeyer said the project proposed some very well thought out solutions to eliminate rockfish bycatch.

Students presented their action plan to senior Bush Administrative officials last November, 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.”

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.

“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.”