1st NMEA Conference

October 26-29, Pacific Grove, California (Asilomar Conference Center)

Executive Committee

President: Arie R. Korporaal (CA) (1976-77)
President Elect: Dr. Warren Little (MA)
Secretary: Richard Schlenker (ME)
Treasurer: Dr. Donald Giles (OR)
Executive Secretary: Thayer Shafer (RI) 

The Journal of Marine Education Editor: Richard C. Murphy

Board of Directors:

(1976-77) Dr. Rimmon C. Fay (CA), Lucile Holden (AK), David Johnson (OR), Dr. Robert Stegner (DE), Dr. Arthur West (MA)

(1976-78) Dr. R. Wesley Batten (VA), Karen Hensel (NY), Dr. Barbara Klemm (HI), Nancy Richardson (CA), Dr. James P. Schweitzer (LA)


  • Cooperative Use of Facilities: Nancy Richardson (NY)

  • Curriculum: Dr. Robert Stegner (DE)

  • Elementary Education: Wes Batten (VA)

  • Government Interaction: Dr. Rimmon C. Fay (CA)

  • Guidance and Counseling: Captain Dean Taylor (CA)

  • Non-Formal Education: Ned Webster (FL)

  • Nominating: Robin Valencic (NY)

  • Membership/Finance: Ann Coopersmith (HI)

  • Parks, Museums and Aquaria: Karen Hensel (NY) & Don Wilkie (CA)

  • Professional Development/Continuing Education: Barbara Klemm (HI)

  • Publicity: Barbara Waters (MA)

  • Undergraduate Education: Dr. Arthur West (MA)

  • Secondary Education: Lucile Holden (AK)

  • Vocational/Technical Education: Dave Johnson (OR)

Conference Highlights:

This logo was on the cover of the conference proceedings

This logo was on the cover of the conference proceedings

This first NMEA Conference featured GAM sessions; a film festival; book exhibit; and multiple sessions ranging from aquariums, and regional associations, to secondary and elementary programs.

Conference details are documented in one of the articles in the Proceedings of the Sixth National Marine Education Conference. The article, “A Report To The University of Maine, Office of Sea Grant, Concerning the 6th National Marine Education Conference Pacific Grove, California, October 26-29, 1976” was authored by Richard Schlenker. Schlenker began his article with “Introduction: The sixth National Marine Education Conference convened at Pacific Grove, California, at 2:00 p.m. on October 26, 1976. The conference brought together individuals from all echelons of the educational scheme, governmental leaders, and members of private industry. Paramount of the conference’s objectives were two. First, to develop a dialogue amongst the participants concerning marine education. Second, to complete the foundation tasks necessary for the formation of the National Marine Education Association. These objectives were met through attendance at lectures, workshops, and participation in discussion groups and association planning sessions.”

Schlenker’s article continued as follows: “Conduct of the Conference:

Flier announcing the 1976 conference

“October 26:

The first afternoon’s activities included, (1) a film festival, (2) commercial equipment exhibit, (3) book exhibit, and (4) steering committee meeting of the National Marine Education Association. The most important and in turn, the most significant of these activities was the steering committee meeting.

The steering committee meeting, chaired by Dr. James Schweitzer of the Louisiana Sea Grant Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was opened with an address by Barbara Klemm, Assistant Director, Science Project, University Laboratory School, University of Hawaii. Klemm’s presentation was a recapitulation of the previous steering committee meeting, followed by a summary of events which had transpired since the previous meeting. After much discussion, the steering committee was charged with the development of (1) a set of association bylaws, (2) a draft of a statement of purpose for the association, (3) an annual budget for the coming year, and (4) a slate of prospective officers. The committee was further charged with a completion (for these tasks) deadline of Thursday afternoon, October 28.”

“October 27:

The day’s activities were opened by conference coordinator, Thayer Shafer’s introduction. Following Shafer’s introductory remarks, Dallas Minor, Special Assistant for Education, Office of Coastal Zone Management, NOAA, Washington, D.C., delivered the day’s major address, 'Marine Studies and the Coastal Zone.'" That day, there were twelve additional sessions. (The titles and presenters are described in Schlenker’s article.)

“The daytime sessions were followed by an evening address titled, 'A National Policy Statement for NOAA and the U.S. Office of Education.' The address was delivered by Harold Goodwin, past assistant director of the National Sea Grant Program. “

“October 28:

Conference Stationery

The day’s introductory remarks were delivered by Dr. James Schweitzer of Louisiana State University. Following these remarks, Dr. John Bardach, the world renowned biologist and author and current director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, delivered the keynote address of the day. Bardach’s address was titled, 'From Herding to Husbandry: Living Resources Management for the 21st Century.'" The day’s keynote address was followed by 10 sessions. (The titles and presenters are described in Schlenker’s article.)

“On the evening of October 28, the business meeting of the National Marine Education Association was held. During the session, the bylaws were discussed and adopted, Association officers and members of the board of directors were elected, Association roles and priorities were discussed, and various Association committees were formed. Of those elected to the various offices, Richard Schlenker was elected to the post of National Secretary. The business meeting was followed by a film festival.”

“October 29:

The main and only address of the day was delivered by the Association’s newly elected president. His address was titled, 'Where Do We Go From Here.' The remainder of the day was taken by NMEA committee meetings and field trips.”

“During the period of the conference, the participants numbered as many as 200. The group was well represented by a cross section of the educational community.”

NMEA pioneers at that conference included Ron Linsky (CA), Dr. Barbara Klemm (HI), Nancy Richardson (CA), Dr. Wes Batten (VA), Karen Hensel (NY), Dr. Jim Schweitzer (LA), Bill Hall (DE), Don Wilkie (CA), Dr. John McMahon (WA), Dr. Art West (MA), Ann Coopersmith (CA/HI), Lucille Holden (AK), Gene Williamson (OR), Dotti Bjur (CA), Don Giles (OR), and Vicki Osis (OR). Fifty-two participants became charter members.

Photograph by Susan Leach Snyder

Photograph by Susan Leach Snyder

The Proceedings of the conference were edited by Arie R. Korporaal (CA) and published in 1977. The Preface of these Proceedings begins with “Publication of this volume of the Proceedings of the Sixth National Marine Education Conference is a significant event. These Proceedings serve as a historical record of the first marine education conference sponsored by the National Marine Education Association. This record of the conference is the first of a series of publications of the newly organized NMEA. It is hoped that the publications will provide direct service to members of NMEA and further its goal of expanding the marine experience.”

The Proceeding included articles by Kenneth Stibolt, Nancy Richardson, Warren Little, Robert Stegner, Barbara Klemm, Richard Raymond, and Richard Schlenker. Also included was a discussion about the Conference GAM sessions.

Richard Raymond’s article, "Regional Marine Education Associations," compared the regional associations that occurred at the time: Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME), Northwest Association of Marine Educators (NAME), Florida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA), Hawaii Council of Marine Science Teachers (HCMST), and New York State Marine Education Association (NYSMEA). In his summary, he suggested that “A first major role of the National Marine Education Association might be to encourage the formation of regional marine education associations.”

Richard Schlenker ended his article about the conference with conclusions based upon his own personal observations. Three of his 11 conclusions were: (1) “The future of the human as a species may well depend upon the educational communities ability to educate the public to an acceptable level of marine literacy.” (2) The National Marine Education Association in the future, can be looked upon as a leader in the movement to educate a marine scientifically literate public. (3) Marine Education in the public schools, should be placed on a par with reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Additional Highlights of 1976:

In a letter written in 2004 to the NMEA History Chair (Susan Snyder), Thayer Shafer (1976 Executive Secretary) related that since there hadn’t been any move towards forming an organization since the 1974 conference or in calling another meeting regarding forming an organization, “I took it upon myself to call all the members of the committee and get their approval to proceed to implement the Kingston Resolution. I enlisted the assistance of people on the staff of the Oceanic Society and some of their members to assist me. I think Nancy Richardson, who was working as a volunteer with the Mariner Scouts (Girl Scouts of America) in Redwood City, designed the wave logo and Ann Coopersmith (who had taught in the Marine Science Program in San Francisco) was operating a restaurant and bought the famous San Francisco Anchor Steam Beer at wholesale for the conference. Bruce Lillianthal was attorney for the Oceanic Society and helped me with the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws. We chose the National Aquarium as our official address in the District of Columbia so that no state could claim leadership and so we could have a base in Washington from which to interact with both government agencies and other educational and cultural and scientific organizations. The Public Education person there (Nancy Kaufman) handled the paperwork. I went down to the IRS Regional Headquarters in San Francisco and applied for our provisional non-profit status and then to the post office to get a bulk mail permit. The committee set up at Kingston was the initial Board of Directors. Since there was no institutional sponsorship, I made the down payment on the Assilomar Conference Center out of my own pocket, had announcements and letterhead printed. etc. People came. They adopted the Articles of Incorporation and the By-Laws and elected officers and a Board of Directors. Arie Korporaal (who was the Science Consultant for the Los Angeles County School District) was elected President.”

In an e-mail to Susan Snyder (NMEA History Chair), dated April 3, 2008, Wes Batten clarified the origin of the wave logo for NMEA. Wes stated, "After the Asilomar meeting, I returned to Richmond, VA and worked with one of my staff members at the Mathematics and Science Center to design a suitable logo for the Association. Norbert Hamm, a graphic artist, and I came up with the WAVE concept along with precise font type and position to reflect our logo in the very best light. That design was copyrighted and resubmitted to Arie and others and it was adopted. It was used in its original form until someone decided to change the Association name to National Marine Educators (Education) Association. I will try to dig up the original art work for the logo and get it to you if I can locate it. I do think there were other logo designs submitted, but Norbert and I really put this one together for NMEA."

In another e-mail dated April 5, 2008, Wes stated, "I have been through the History section again on the NMEA web site. I submitted the illustration of the logo design just after returning to Richmond from the Asilomar meeting Oct. 26-29, 1976. I can't remember the guy I sent it to, but Arie Korporaal was very much aware of the effort. It may have been him actually. In any case, I know the logo appeared on the cover of the Proceedings in 1977. I have misplaced the first two editions of the Journal, but I know the logo appeared early on in that publication. I contacted Norbert Hamm, my graphic artist, and he is searching his portfolio for the original work. He is not certain if he can find it but will search nonetheless. The logo was firmly in place by the NMEA meeting in Delaware in '78. I will follow up with Norbert in Virginia to see what luck he has in locating the original. He did remember the copyright efforts, but doesn't think he has a copy of that document. I'll keep you posted on this little tidbit of NMEA History. WOW, this has brought back some fond memories. I attended the second conference at Catalina Island that Ron Linsky ran way back THEN. I guess it's good to recall the early days of NMEA when new ideas were taking root in the marine education movement."

The National Marine Education Association (NMEA) was officially formed as a nonprofit corporation in the District of Columbia in August. In July, Thayer Shafer had sent a note to “Fellow Marine Educators” announcing that “By the time you read this, the National Marine Education Association will be legally incorporated.” Soon thereafter, NMEA applied for tax-exempt status.

Shafer was elected as the first Executive Secretary of NMEA, and provided extensive administrative services and continuity during the early years of the organization.

One of the first acts of Shafer and the new NMEA Board of Directors with the assistance of Ann Coopersmith (then of CA, now of HI) and Sam Dederian (CA) was to organize the first official NMEA meeting to be held October 26-29, 1976 at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.

According to “A History of the Marine Education Movement in the United States; especially the period from 1967 to 1979” (January 1980), by Jim Lanier, Sea Grant Program, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, “On April 21, 1976, Hal Goodwin convened a Sea Grant Education Workshop in Williamsburg, Virginia, which may have been the beginning of a new period in the development of the marine education movement. Twenty-five educators, from all the coasts of the United States, met to examine Sea Grant’s role in relation to...” six goals. The first: to address "national needs for environmental education.”

“At this meeting, Logan Sallada of the U.S. Office of Education suggested that marine education would never receive significant federal support without a concise definition of what it is all about and why it is important. As a result of these remarks, Hal Goodwin began his project at the University of Delaware" to develop a document to provide that information: The Need for Marine and Aquatic Education.

“Another effort which began at the Williamsburg Sea Grant Conference resulted in the 'Memorandum of Agreement between the United States Office of Education and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,' signed on August 25, 1977. This agreement is designed: '...to encourage the development of an integrated and coordinated national, state, regional, and local marine environment education program.'”

The Journal of Marine Education

Photograph by Susan Leach Snyder

During the summer of 1976, an impressive first issue of The Journal of Marine Education was produced by a private publisher with money from the Sea Grant Programs at the University of Hawaii and the University of Southern California.

In the first issue, the editors made a pledge that all NMEA educational programs increase our cognizance of the two-thirds of our planet which is water surfaced. The issue emphasized that there is a need for environmental consciousness and a respect for the natural world. Richard C. Murphy, Editor of the journal, stated, “The oceans have not felt the impact of man as drastically as the land has. The oceans are truly a frontier with the excitement, the adventure, and spirit of the future which can capture the young and guide them toward more productive lives. In referring to the land, some shrug and say the battle is already lost; the forests and the grasslands have succumbed to the onslaught of civilization. But in the sea, in most cases, we can prevent rather than cure. There is hope.”

Photograph by Susan Leach Snyder

A second issue followed in the fall. In that issue, there was the announcement that the National Marine Education Association had been established. A quote from this announcement follows: “The goals of the National Marine Education Association are to provide a means of interaction among members, to provide access to and dissemination of marine education materials, and to provide information and recommendations on marine education matters." In that issue, the editorial staff stated that environmental consciousness and a respect for the natural world is “essential in creating a well informed public capable of making sound judgments regarding the development and preservation of coastlines and marine resources. This must be the primary objective of ocean education.” “We must include the sea in all subject areas. All curricula should be ‘marinated’ to create a ‘marine literate society.”

Editor Richard C. Murphy (CA) (Photographer is unknown)

Editor Richard C. Murphy (CA) (Photographer is unknown)

Jon Walker (CA) was publisher of the journal, and the publishing company was The Aegir Corporation, at Post Office Box 3085, Newport Beach, California 92663. A yearly subscription rate was $15.00 for four issues. Single copies were $3.00 each.

At the end of 1976, the letter shown below was sent to journal subscribers. The letter announced that future editions of the journal would be published with support of Sea World, under the leadership of Leon Drew (CA) and Carlo Mosca (CA).


Photograph by Susan Leach Snyder