The ocean needs young people now. That was the message to the 200+ youth and adults attending our fourth annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on Saturday, November 8th, at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL. Our largest Summit to date, this annual event is designed to empower youth participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully launch ocean conservation projects in their local communities. Youth and adult participants from 10 states attended the event, which was kicked off by an inspiring keynote from Steve Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America, who share with participants 4 reasons why the ocean needs youth ASAP. Steve’s passion for youth leadership, service, and ocean conservation came together in his powerful and inspiring message to participants. The event continued with outstanding presentations by past Youth Ocean Conservation Summit participants who shared their work over the past year on ocean conservation initiatives in their local communities. Student attendees then had the chance to work on action plans for their own ocean conservation projects with the help of expert mentors from across the country, and take part in a session focused on careers in ocean conservation. Throughout the remainder of the event, participants attended workshop sessions designed to empower them with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully implement and/or expand ocean conservation projects in their communities. These workshops included topics such as fundraising, social media marketing, using art to promote ocean conservation, working with government officials, exploring ocean conservation issues, film making, grant writing, and a panel session featuring young students taking on ocean conservation issues in their communities. Thanks to Mote Marine Laboratory and the New York Aquarium, select Summit sessions were streamed live for the first time to students watching in Coney Island, NY!
Throughout the day Summit participants had the opportunity to network with other youth and adults from across the country who are passionate about ocean conservation, and connect with organizations working to protect marine ecosystems. The Summit ended with an inspiring “Call to Action” message from long time event supporter, singer/song-writer Jack Johnson!
Immediately following the Summit, the third annual Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival provided an additional avenue to raise awareness about ocean conservation issues, and the work of young people in the field of ocean conservation, to a greater community audience. This year’s event featured a silent auction and raffle fundraiser to help fund the student-driven ocean conservation project planned at the Summit, a screening of the winning films from our 2014 Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival, a screening of the inspiring short film Cabo Pulmo highlighting a marine conservation success story, and the featured presentation – Mission Blue, the powerful story of Dr. Sylvia Earle and her mission to save the ocean.
The 2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit weekend wrapped up with an exploration of Sarasota Bay featuring hands on seining, marine life observation, and kayaking experiences led by the staff from the Loxahatchee River Center and FLOW Kayak and Paddle Tours!
Throughout the year, the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit participants will be connected to additional resources and support for their conservation work through our Youth Ocean Conservation Team network.
A special thanks to the incredible participants, presenters, volunteers, sponsors, and Summit planning team members for their inspiring commitment to ocean conservation!
Thanks to the 2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit partners and sponsors: Mote Marine Laboratory, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Disney, Wyland Galleries, Wyland Foundation, Youth Service America, Mission Blue, Jim Abernethy’s SCUBA Adventures, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, FLOW Kayak and Paddle Tours, Wild Studies, Liz Arme Realty, Cheeca Lodge and Spa, United by Blue, Klean Kanteen, Mote Scientific Foundation, Artist Ryan Sobel, SUP Sarasota, Loxahatchee River Center, ROI Media, The Nature Conservancy, Sarasota Bay Watch, the Florida Aquarium, SCUBAnauts International, Blue Frontier Campaign, The Fishes Wishes, Gloria Clifford – Tropical Island Art, Carly Mejeur Art, Robert Johnson Art, Event Step and Repeat, the Pulse Team, Florida Oceanographic Society, Spunco Films, Sarasota Fins, Ben Hicks Art and Design, Jordan Holm, From the Bow Seat, Ringling College of Art and Design, the New York Aquarium, and Ocean GEMS.