As is the annual tradition, NMEA leadership changed hands this summer at the annual conference in Newport, RI, and Robert Rocha, Director of K-12 and Science Programs at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, took the helm for 2015-2016. Get to know Bob better with this quick Q & A!
1) How long have you been involved with NMEA and what roles have you played in our organization?
I attended my first NMEA meeting in 1996, at the University of New Hampshire. I have missed just four conferences since then. I have been a chapter representative for Massachusetts Marine Educators (2009-2011), a member of the conference committee (2009-2011), chair of the 2011 annual conference in Boston, a board member (elected in 2013), member of the Executive Committee (2014-present), and president-elect (2014-2015).
2) In your view, what makes NMEA an unique organization?
NMEA has a great blend of work hard and play hard. We all take our work seriously but try not to take ourselves too seriously. I also think that the mix of formal educators, informal educators, administrators, writers, students and advocates is unique and ensures that perspectives won't get stale or one-sided.
3) What changes do you expect to see in NMEA over the next year and in the next decade?
In the next year I expect that NMEA's transition to a more streamlined, online tech-friendly organization will come to full fruition. I also expect great progress on many of the short-term steps laid out in the strategic plan. In ten years, I expect NMEA to be a more culturally diverse organization that will support and motivate new populations to get involved in marine education. I also expect that we will have more consistent significant annual sponsorship.
4) What's a favorite memory from a NMEA event or conference?
There are a few. I'll mention three:
- Having a nice conversation with a nice older lady at my first NMEA conference during the award ceremony and then hearing her name called as the recipient of Marine Education Award. That nice lady is Anita Freudenthal. I've been a big fan of Anita and Hugo, and the award ceremony, ever since.
- Hosting the 2011 conference and feeling proud of Massachusetts Marine Educators and our volunteers for running such a fun productive conference, and;
- Knowing that the Boston conference was the site of the meeting that led to the formation of the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) and that I got to be part of that process. What has happened in Europe since then in such a short amount of time is remarkable.
5) For fun ... if you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
I would have the power to make everyone clean up their own messes, including all businesses. Litter is so unnecessary and a clear sign of laziness.