Sarasota, FL – Over 100 youth participants took part in the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit hosted by Mote Marine Laboratory on November 12th, 2011 sponsored by Earth Savers Club Partner, Stow It- Don’t Throw, and Greening Forward. The event was part of an educational outreach effort organized by the Stow It- Don’t Throw It Marine Debris Prevention Project. “Through the workshops and presentations at this event, youth participants were able to learn about current threats facing marine ecosystems,and gain the skills they need to launch their own ocean conservation projects,” said event organizer, Sean Russell.
After inspirational words by keynote speaker, SeaWorld/BuschGardens Animal Ambassador, Julie Scardina, participants worked with mentors from local environmental organizations to identify ocean conservation issues they wished to work on and developed action plans to help tackle these problems.
Representatives from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, One More Generation, the Florida Aquarium, Brevard Zoo, Florida 4-H, Mote Marine Laboratory’s SeaTrek Program and Mote’s Marine Policy Institute, as well mentors from Mote’s Research and Education departments, worked together with local teachers and volunteers,to teach participants the steps needed to start, fund, publicize, and communicate the message of their respective projects.
Projects which emerged from the work of the summit include planting projects to restore estuary areas in Sarasota Bay, school projects aimed at educating peers about important environmental issues, recycling projects, media presentations to raise awareness about ocean conservation issues, as well as work to expand the efforts of the Stow It – Don’t Throw It fishing line recycling project.
Work at the Summit ended with a call to action video message featuring Dr. Eugenie Clark, founder and Director Emeritus of Mote Marine Laboratory, Dr. Kumar Mahadevan, Mote’s President and CEO, Dr. David Vaughan, Director of Mote’s Center for Coral Reef Research,Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ocean Futures Society President, Wyland, Artist of the Sea, Steve Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America, Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International and Jordan Howard, Greening Forward youth Board Member.