Capitol Hill Ocean Week: An Intern’s Experience

As an intern in the Education Department, my work revolves almost exclusively around themes and concepts related to the ocean. Lately, I have been thinking about my personal connections to the ocean.

A Thought-Provoking Seminar on Capitol Hill
I recently attended two seminars at Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW)–June 5 through June 8–that allowed me to expand my thinking. Linwood Pendleton, Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, led a seminar called “Oceans and Growth in America.” He explained that our relationship with the ocean is shaped by how we use it for extraction, such as harvesting of abalone in California during the late 1800s, and recreation, such as beach volleyball. The ocean has had, and continues to have, strong impacts on people along coasts, inspiring art and other forms of cultural expression.

Pendleton concluded by stating that growth without diversity will leave our coasts compromised, arguing that we need to move beyond the ocean’s economic uses, such as commercial fishing, in order to understand and appreciate its other values. It was this final point that has stuck with me since Linwood’s address.

Personal Reflection: A Childhood by the Sea
Linwood’s conclusion made me think about why I value the ocean and its resources and whether the reasons I value it fall under any of the categories about which he spoke–extraction, recreation, inspiration, etc.

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Meet Lori Roberts: Ocean Science Educator

Why I Teach Ocean Education

Lori Roberts is a high school biology teacher in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Lori is a leader in ocean education and is a graduate of National Geographic Education’s two-year professional development program, the National Teacher Leadership Academy.

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Lori is pictured at left with Gil Grosvenor, former Chairman of the National Geographic Society and Education Foundation.

I love the ocean and have great respect for it. For me, it all began during a family vacation to Pensacola Beach, Florida. At the time, I was 11 and a very weak swimmer. As I played, the undertow pulled me further out. When I realized I was in trouble, seawater was already rushing over my head and I began to struggle.

My mom saw me, but she could not swim.  Helplessly, she yelled for someone to save me. A young hero responded; he swam across the waves and retrieved me. My Mom cried, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” and he yelled back,” ¡De nada!”

Rather than filling me with fear, that first experience made me determined to learn.

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