Tami Lunsford spent her early summers at the Jersey shore (the real one, not the show) and along the coast in Maine. Exploring the jetties and tide pools for invertebrates created a love for exploring the ocean and natural world that has grown from there! Now she helps others find the beauty and joy of the ocean world by teaching high school and educator professional development, and by showing cool things on the beach to her own children, their friends, and any random strangers who will listen.
Professionally, she wears three hats. Primarily, she is the high school lead and teaches biology and AP Biology at a new high school she helped start up in 2013 (Newark Charter High School in Newark, Del.). It has been quite an adventure and is a lot different than the University of Delaware faculty position that she left to take on this challenge, but she could not be happier that she made the decision to do it! Tami also oversees the MATE Center’s at-sea college internship program and teaches educator workshops for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research all over the east coast. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a biology concentration from the University of Delaware, and a master’s degree in marine science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.
Tami has been active on the NMEA Board for several years serving different roles at different times: as an elected Board member, the MAMEA (Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association) representative to NMEA, and as a member of the Executive Committee three different times. She was the co-chair of the 2014 NMEA Conference in Annapolis, Md., and is a past-president of MAMEA. Her work with NMEA includes: being an active awards committee member for almost ten years; helping secure tens of thousands of dollars in donations to NMEA; participating in the 2007 and 2014 strategic planning meetings; and being the chair of the Expanding Audiences (EA) committee since it was established at the 2007 meeting. With the EA committee, she co-created and coordinates a scholarship annually (2009-present) that has allowed dozens of educators new to NMEA to attend NMEA conferences. Past EA awardees have gone on to be active NMEA members, written articles for NMEA News and Current, served as past and current committee chairs, and more! She is passionate about marine education, and wants to share her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the ocean and its living things with as many people as possible. Tami is truly honored to be running for NMEA President.
Jackie Takacs grew up the oldest of seven children on Long Island, NY, where she spent absolutely no time at the beach (seriously – who would take seven kids to the beach?). It wasn’t until she moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in her senior year of high school that outdoor time became more about the environment and less about an athletic field. It was also about that time when her father suggested – after watching an MPT special – that she should become a “fish farmer” when she grew up.
As all girls of that age do – she ignored her father and went on to university to pursue a degree in education. That pursuit went down a different path a few years later after working at a restaurant with aquaculture ponds and summer interning with university extension faculty. Extension education – specifically in marine sciences and fisheries - became her passion (she thanks her dad). She currently holds a bachelor of science degree in life sciences (emphasis Biology) and an master of science in marine, estuarine and environmental sciences from University of Maryland, College Park.
Professionally Jackie holds the position she coveted in her application to graduate school – to one day be a faculty member with the University of Maryland Extension (UME) Sea Grant Program. She has held that position now for 18 years and currently holds the title of watershed restoration specialist. In her position, Jackie works in cooperation with other UME extension agents, regional and departmental specialists, and various local, state and federal agencies in organizing, conducting, and evaluating programs in watershed management and restoration, watershed and environmental sciences education, and aquaculture within the southern Maryland region, the state of Maryland, and the mid-Atlantic Region.
Jackie was lured into MAMEA (Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association) by that smooth talker Adam Frederick – who not only convinced her to join but to step into the treasurer position. A position she has held for ten years now. As part of MAMEA, Jackie has helped organized two annual conferences and is part of the chapters’ finance and grants committees. In 2014 Jackie coordinated the finances and registration for the NMEA annual conference held in Annapolis, Md. Jackie absolutely cherishes MAMEA and the people that make up the chapter and is very honored to have been asked to run for treasurer of NMEA (and no – she will not be leaving her MAMEA post anytime soon).
Board of Directors Candidates
Kate Achilles is a research and outreach specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif. Kate got her Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Delaware studying marine microbes, and now coordinates Federal research and resource management activities related to marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish.
Kate’s research interests span organisms of all sizes – from microscopic plankton to enormous whales. Over the past 15 years, Kate has created informal and formal activities, hands-on educational programs, outreach materials, and curricula in the ocean sciences for culturally diverse audiences of all ages and educational backgrounds. She is an advocate for teachers and students alike, by providing professional development opportunities and programs aiming to increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing careers in the ocean sciences.
At the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), Kate created and managed an intensive teacher-at-sea program and led over 20 teacher-training workshops. She also developed and helped administer a nationwide program providing public school teachers with free access to portable, self-contained science kits that are aligned with state and ocean literacy standards.
Kate has taught oceanography and chemistry at the undergraduate level, and published peer-reviewed research manuscripts and educational documents. At NOAA, Kate remains actively involved in marine education and outreach. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), has been Chair of the NMEA Scholarship Committee since 2011, was on the Board of Directors of NMEA’s OCEANIA chapter from 2009-2010, and is currently a member of the Southwest Marine/Aquatic Educator’s Association. In her free time, Kate enjoys backpacking, gardening, and entertaining the new addition to her family, Emma.
David Christopher is currently the formal education manager at the National Aquarium, Baltimore, where he oversees the on-site school programs, off-site school programs, and teacher workshops.
David grew up crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay and has always had a deep connection to water ever since. David holds a degree in biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he focused on wetland ecology. After college, David briefly pursued a job in environmental compliance but soon fell in love with education while teaching sleepover programs for the Maryland Science Center. David went on to take an environmental education internship with Pickering Creek Audubon Center and had his first full time education position as the wetlands educator for Environmental Concern Inc. David came to the National Aquarium in 2000 as an education specialist with their Outreach Programs Team and has since been promoted to oversee most of the Aquarium’s formal education programming. In 2004, David received a master’s in education from Goucher College.
David has been a long time active member in both NMEA and MAMEA. He attended his first NMEA meeting in Charleston, SC, in 1999 and has only missed one since. He has served as the Secretary and President of the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association. He has also served as the MAMEA representative to the NMEA Board. In 2014, David was honored to serve as a 2104 NMEA conference co-chair and achieved his dream of bringing the NMEA conference to his home state of Maryland.
Géraldine earned a master of science degree in biology. She moved to Sweden 11 years ago to work at the University of Gothenburg. She earned a second master of science degree in learning, communication and IT before beginning her doctoral studies in pedagogy two years ago. Her PhD project aims to provide knowledge about the implications of high-school students’ use of digital tools in marine environmental education and its consequence on students' ocean literacy.
In addition to her doctoral work, Géraldine is involved in several international projects that promote ocean literacy. Since 2008, she leads a long-term partnership project with Stanford University that develops digital learning resources for marine environmental education in upper secondary schools. She is one of the leaders of the first funded European Ocean Literacy project called SeaChange.
Géraldine attended her first NMEA conference in 2011 and based on that experience, co-founded the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) with Fiona Crouch and Evy Copejans. EMSEA was launched during the first conference on ocean literacy in Europe in 2012 in Bruges, Belgium. A year later, the first EMSEA conference was held in Plymouth, UK. In 2014, Géraldine chaired the second EMSEA conference hosted at the University of Gothenburg.
She is also involved in different constellations promoting ocean literacy. She is one of the experts selected by the European Commission to define the European ocean literacy agenda and to provide guidance to promote a transatlantic cooperation on ocean literacy. Since 2010 she is a member of the European Marine Board Communication Panel (EMBCP) providing a pan-European platform for marine science communicators to promote Marine Board activities, to synergize outreach activities and to advocate for ocean literacy.
Géraldine would be honored to serve on the NMEA Board of Directors in order to strengthen the collaboration between the U.S. and the European Ocean Literacy communities, to continue her effort to promote ocean literacy in formal education across the world and to help raise ocean literacy as a key component of science and environmental education research. In other words, to paraphrase Strang, DeCharon and Schoedinger (2007), she believes that one cannot be science or environmental literate without being ocean literate. In that respect, NMEA’s effort is essential to foster a responsible and aware citizenry, and Géraldine would be delighted to contribute to this goal.
Jessie Kastler is the coordinator of program development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Marine Education Center (University of Southern Mississippi). She writes proposals and directs grants to teach members of the public about the process of science, how science works following catastrophes like oil spills or hurricanes, ecology of coastal systems and communication. She works with diverse audiences, including classroom teachers, citizen scientists, coastal stakeholders (e.g., fishermen) and scientists who are interested in communicating their research. She also teaches Introduction to Oceanography to university students in the GCRL Summer Field Program.
Jessie was the marine education instructor at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium for eight years before arriving at Gulf Coast Research Lab in 2007. She has been a member of NMEA and the Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME) since 2000 and, in a well-timed entrance onto the NMEA scene, attended her first annual conference in Victoria, British Columbia in 2001. Jessie is president-elect of SAME and has served on Outreach and Conference Committees. She was on the Conference Committee for the 2013 “Sea the Gulf, Join the Roux” conference in Mobile, primarily as chair of the Program Committee.
Her interests for NMEA include enhancing dissemination of education research through the annual conference and Current, the Journal of Marine Education, to help members who are building their programs incorporate recent, evidence-based methods for engagement and effective learning. She has been active in a variety of regional environmental education organizations and several national marine science research organizations (e.g., the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation).
She came to marine education from research training in coastal sedimentary ecology, with a Ph.D. in oceanography and coastal sciences from Louisiana State University, an M.S. in environmental science from University of Virginia, and a B.S. in geology from Louisiana State University. During free time, Jessie practices yoga and walks the beach and pine savanna near Ocean Springs, Miss., with her pointer-terrier mutt Charlie.
Meghan E. Marrero, Ed.D.
Dr. Meghan Marrero is an associate professor of secondary science education at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she teaches science methods, assessment, and oceanography courses and serves as principal investigator for two large STEM education grants worth $2.6 million. She has worked to change the science education curriculum at her college—now all science teacher candidates at Mercy College take an oceanography course. Prior to her work at Mercy, Meghan taught high school marine science in New York City and worked as a curriculum developer. She continues to do consulting work in K-12 schools, supporting districts in NGSS implementation, assisting teachers in incorporating hands-on and technology-based lessons, and leading educators in data-driven instructional practices. She also teaches ocean pedagogy courses for the NASA Endeavor Program. Meghan won the NMEA James Centorino award for distinguished performance in marine education in 2013.
Drawing on her classroom and curriculum experience, Meghan authored a high school marine science textbook, Marine Science: The Dynamic Ocean, published by Pearson. The text takes a STEM-based approach to teaching marine science, allowing students to see applications of various scientific disciplines, technology, engineering, and math in an ocean context. The book also introduces students to careers in the ocean sciences. Meghan is also the lead author on the Winged Ambassadors curriculum program, and has written educational materials for National Geographic Education including chapters of environmental literacy e-books, encyclopedic entries, media wrappers, and other instructional supports.
Meghan has been an NMEA member since 2005 and has served the organization in various capacities. She was the NYSMEA chapter rep from 2008-2012, and has been on the Board of Directors since then. She has been an active member of the scholarship and ocean literacy committees and has been the Chair and now, Vice Chair, of the Education Research Committee. She is currently the Chair of the Current Committee, working with the editor to move NMEA’s journal of marine education, Current, into a more modern, digital format. She has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2014 and regularly presents her work at the annual conference, having not missed a conference since 2005. She continues to invite colleagues to become active in NMEA, and has nominated several successful Expanding Audiences scholarship awardees. Meghan also presented at the EMSEA conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2014 and participated in the preceding Transatlantic Ocean Literacy meeting.
Meghan served as NYSMEA president from 2009-2014, and continues to work on the NYSMEA conference and membership committees. As NYSMEA president, she worked to increase membership, revamp the NYSMEA website, institute social networking, and lead stewardship activities including wetlands restoration trips in Louisiana in 2011 and 2012. She also participated in the 2009 Papahānaumokuākea 'Ahahui Alaka'i (PAA) program, an experiential leadership program with 11 other educators selected from across the nation to travel to Midway Atoll, participate in stewardship activities, and share their experiences with their home communities.
One of Meghan’s major areas of research is in ocean literacy and marine education. As such, she has published in both scholarly and practitioner journals. Both her master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation focused on marine education, and she continues to present this research at national conferences such as the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST). She is currently collaborating with colleagues in the U.S. and abroad on new research projects on ocean literacy. Meghan’s career in marine education will continue to grow as she seeks new ways to extend her impact.
Sean Russell is a youth engagement strategist dedicated to empowering young people with the tools and motivation they need to become involved in leadership initiatives. Sean’s environmental and community leadership work began with his involvement in the Florida 4-H program at the age of nine. As a senior in high school, Sean served as the Florida 4-H State Council President, representing over 250,000 4-H members. As a high school intern at Mote Marine Laboratory in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla., Sean founded Stow It-Don’t Throw It Project, a youth-driven initiative that has engaged youth and adults across the country in a fishing line recycling campaign. Through this program Sean has developed and shared educational resources on marine debris prevention with students and educators in 25 states and 12 countries.
The enthusiasm of the young people involved in this program led Sean to launch the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in November 2011 with Mote Marine Laboratory. This annual educational event is designed to empower youth participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out successful ocean conservation projects in their local communities. Through this program, Sean brings together diverse partnering organizations to provide ongoing support to the youth-driven conservation projects emerging from this event. Sean is currently working to expand the reach of this program by implementing a series of satellite Youth Ocean Conservation Summits across the country. Sean also oversees the Youth Ocean Conservation Team, a network which provides year round support and connectivity for summit participants. Currently this network connects youth and adults on six continents who are dedicated to taking action to protect our planet’s marine ecosystems.
Sean graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelors of science degree in biology. In addition to his conservation work, he is currently interning with Georgia Sea Grant, leading hands-on marine science education programs on the Georgia coast. He has also worked over the past year with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment to launch and coordinate the inaugural SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council – a first of its kind group of 17 student leaders that provide strategic input and support to SeaWorld’s work to connect young people to the natural world.
Sean has a diverse background in engaging young people in leadership roles in youth organizations, government agencies, international non-profit organizations, and corporations. He currently serves as a member of EarthEcho International’s Learning and Education Advisory Panel and Youth Service America’s Board of Directors, and has previously served on the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, the National 4-H Healthy Living Management Team, and the Florida 4-H Foundation Board of Directors.
Sean is a member of the Florida Marine Science Educators Association and has been a member of NMEA for the past two years. During this time he has served as a member of the strategic plan development and implementation teams, and has worked to develop plans to create opportunities for and increase the involvement of students and young professionals in the organization. As a member of the Board of Directors he hopes to continue to develop opportunities for NMEA to reach and engage students and recent graduates who will be able to learn from and contribute to the organization for years to come.