Stand With Wildlife

MarstelDayLogo2015A few weeks ago, my brother and I were invited to speak with the staff at an organization called Marstel-Day. Where did the name Marstel-Day come from? Well this is the explanation we were given, and it makes so much sense: Mar stands for ocean and stel stands for star so, Marstel loosely translates to “star of the sea.”

Marstel-Day’s tagline is  “Conservation Consulting from Sea to Stars.” Pretty cool, isn’t it? You can watch a video about what the company stands for here.

Here is what founder and CEO Rebecca Rubin had to say about our visit:

“Anybody can make a difference … if we can, you can too.” 

That was the message that Carter and Olivia Ries conveyed at each of the six talks they gave to students and adults alike during their visit to Fredericksburg, Virginia, as part of Marstel-Day’s #StandwithWildlife campaign.

OMG founders Olivia and Carter Ries deliver a presentation to Hugh Mercer Elementary School students. Photo provided by Marstel-Day

At the various schools, Olivia and Carter discussed the devastating impact of plastic pollution on the environment and how students can help preserve habitat and wildlife for one more generation … and beyond.

Marstel-Day CEO Rebecca Rubin wanted to ensure that the OMG message reached a broad audience and that local students would get an opportunity to learn about the work that OMG was doing. As a result, Marstel-Day coordinated visits to Courtland High School, Riverbend High School, Hugh Mercer Elementary School, and the Stafford Junction Brain Builders program at Ferry Farm Elementary School.

By the end of their three-day visit, Olivia and Carter had spoken to more than 1,200 students ranging from kindergartners to seniors in high school, as well as professionals and community members. They shared how their concern over the plight of endangered species inspired them to start OMG, and how they did not let age stop them from pursuing this goal. Olivia and Carter highlighted issues such as plastics pollution, specifically straws and plastic bags, and other threats facing endangered species.

My brother and I presenting our Plastic Pollution Program to students. The dreaded OMG Bag Monster even made an appearance. Photo provided by Marstel-Day.

Marstel-Day’s #StandwithWildlife speaker series spotlights issues facing wildlife today and what individuals can do to help and when possible, partners with local schools.

About “Stand With Wildlife: Spurred on by outrage at 30,000 elephants killed for their ivory tusks every year, among other shocking statistics, MarstelDay CEO Rebecca R. Rubin created the “Stand With Wildlife” series to shine a light on major wildlife conservation issues such as the protection of threatened and endangered species and their habitat—and present ways individuals and businesses can help take a stand with wildlife.

Chad Brown from Soul River Inc. was featured as part of the Marstel-Day “Stand With Wildlife” series. Photo provided by Marstel-Day

The campaign includes monthly talks by leading conservationists, each of whom presents an in-depth analysis of a particular wildlife conservation issue, how it affects the ecosystem, and invites suggestions from members of the audience. At each session, a brown bag luncheon, the speaker(s) present options for what the public and industry can do to help.

In addition to OMG, speakers have included the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program, the Oakland Zoo’s initiatives on human-wildlife interface, the Earth Journalism Network on biodiversity and conservation reporting, the non-profit Five Gyres on ocean plastics, the US Fish and Wildlife Service on wildlife trafficking and poaching,  the for-profit Discover Nature Apps on connecting kids with nature, and more.

About MarstelDay: The organization is a top-tier environmental consultancy established in 2002 by President and CEO Rebecca R. Rubin to provide expertise to public- and private-sector organizations in the areas of climate change, habitat, open space, water, energy, land use, and natural resource conservation issues.

Rebecca Rubin (founder and CEO of Marstel Day) interviews my brother and me for their Vital Voices video series. Photo provided by

MarstelDay also developed the “Vital Voices of the Environment” series, interviewing thoughts leaders as diverse as extreme athlete Jeremy Jones on climate change in the mountains, visual artist Chris Jordan on his work photographing the impact of ocean plastics, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) on environmental justice, top-call drummer/percussionist Rich Redmond on sustainability in the music industry, and more.

Here are some of the interview questions I posed to Marstel-Day founder and CEO Rebecca R. Rubin:

Mrs. Rubin, you explained how you came up with the company name, but why did you choose purple as your corporate color?

It’s vibrant and bold—just like our company!

How can our readers get involved with your ‘Stand with wildlife’ series?

You can get a sense for the topics and causes we cover by watching our short video at Then, join the livestream for events, or go to our archives of prior events at and feel free to send us your ideas and suggestions (email

We both know that it is important to teach the next generation about animal and environmental conservation. Why do you think that our school system has not yet made that a priority?

Society at large has not caught up with the conservation world. Society has other, albeit mistaken, priorities—growth and development head that list—and seems to have trouble understanding the perilous consequences for habitat and wildlife. The misplaced values of our society are then often reflected in our school systems. However, my hope is that as pioneering schoolssuch as the ones where you just gave your talks—step forward to make kids more aware of wildlife and habitat conservation, that those kids become influences for change within their own families, and that other schools will begin to follow suit.

My brother and I are going to the White House on June 16, which is World Sea Turtle Day, to hand-deliver the thousands of letters we have been collecting from our Sea Turtle Letter Writing Campaign in an effort to save sea turtles. If you could go to the White House and ask President Obama one thing, what would you ask him and why?

If you had your life to live all over again, in what specific ways would you take a stronger stand for nature?

What do you like most about your job?

I get to work with people like you and Carter, who have made the decision along the way that nature comes first. That’s life-affirming. It gives me hope.

Mrs. Rubin is so passionate about what she does, and everyone we met at the organization shares her enthusiasm and drive for wanting to make a difference. We are so honored to have been invited to be part of their meeting and to work with the folks at Marstel-Day and we look forward to working with them more in the future. Make sure to visit their website and tell them that you heard about them from reading my blog 😉

Stay tuned next week as we learn about ‘Monkey Bridges For Everyone‘!

Olivia Ries is our National Geographic Society Youth Empowerment writer. Together with her brother Carter, she hopes to inspire others to realize that “Anybody can make a difference… if they can, you can too.” Make sure to check out their TEDxYouth presentation along with their website at and also ‘LIKE’ their FaceBook page as well 😉

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