New York State Marine Educators Association (NYSMEA) hosted its 36th annual conference in Brooklyn on October 25, 2014, with Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies and the New York Aquarium hosting the festivities. This year's theme was “Coastal Treasures & Troubles: Restoring, Managing, and Monitoring Our Resources," and over 106 people attended, including 23 students.
We were pleased to have two keynote speakers join us. Dr. Stephen Pekar, geologist and climate scientist at Queens College, spoke on "Looking back to our future: How studying past climate changes can show us the future of NYC’s coastal areas" in the morning, and Kate Orff, founder and director of the Urban Landscape Lab at Columbia University, presented on "Living Breakwaters" in the evening.
There were a variety of workshops that participants could choose from. One workshop was led by four students from the New York Harbor School, who talked about The Billion Oyster Project and the school's aquaculture program. We were also delighted to have Sean Russell, director of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, lead a special workshop for all the students (and interested adults), during which he gave an introduction to the Summit and showed students ways to become active environmental stewards.
Other highlights included:
- Silent, live, and 50/50 auctions, which helped raise money for NYSMEA's treasury, and its scholarship program, in particular.
- An awards ceremony, which honored a number of New Yorkers who have made significant contributions to the field of marine education.
- A choice of four afternoon field trips.
- A tour of "Glover's Reef" at the NY Aquarium led by Bob Cummings, followed by a buffet dinner, the live auction, and the evening speaker.
Also, we would really like to send thanks to the Hudson River Foundation for contributing $500 to the conference, which allowed us to charge students just a nominal registration fee to attend. As a result, we had 23 students participate, from 13 different high schools and colleges!
- Sarah Richards, NMEA secretary, NYSMEA conference coordinator, and associate chair and teacher in the Science Department of Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, NY