Over 200 youth participants, from 10 states, attended the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Fla., on November 8. The summit, which is in its fourth year, is organized by the Stow It-Don't Throw It Project, headed by Sean Russell (pictured below at the Summit with participants), who is the project director, as well as a very active NMEA member.
The event is designed to empower youth participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully launch ocean conservation projects in their local communities. The day was kicked off by an inspiring keynote from Steve Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America, with the powerful message that “the ocean needs young people now.”
The summit continued with outstanding presentations by past Youth Ocean Conservation Summit participants who shared their work over the past year on ocean conservation initiatives in their local communities.
Student attendees then had the chance to work on action plans for their own ocean conservation projects with the help of expert mentors from across the country, and take part in a session focused on careers in ocean conservation. Participants also had the chance to attend workshop focused on topics such as fundraising, social media marketing, using art as advocacy, working with government officials, filmmaking, and grant writing.
The Summit ended with an inspiring “call to action” message from long time event supporter, singer/songwriter Jack Johnson!
Immediately following the Summit, the third annual Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival provided an additional avenue to raise awareness about ocean conservation issues, and the work of young people in the field of ocean conservation, to a greater community audience. This year’s event featured screenings of the winning films from the 2014 Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival, the short film Cabo Pulmo, and the featured presentation – Mission Blue, the powerful story of Dr. Sylvia Earle and her mission to save the ocean.
The 2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit weekend wrapped up with an exploration of Sarasota Bay featuring hands on seining, marine life observation, and kayaking experiences on Sunday morning. A wonderful way to end a successful and inspiring weekend!