Think Blue, Go Green

Think Blue, Go Green

October 20, 2022

Bringing STEM to Ocean Conservation

by The Ocean Wise Team

Marine conservation efforts have been growing rapidly in North America over the past decade. In Canada, the commitment to protect the country’s land and oceans has risen from a goal of 10 per cent in 2020 to 30 per cent by 2030. Through collaborative efforts with Indigenous communities across Canada, the hope is to ensure protection for marine and coastal areas, fight the effects of climate change, and provide alternative, sustainable forms of engaging with ocean ecosystems.

Ocean Wise is on a similar mission to ensure that our oceans are healthy and flourishing. Focused on education, research, and direct-action conservation, we equip and inspire youth, citizens, businesses, and governments to empower communities and individuals to take action. Ocean Wise offers active support through initiatives like the Ocean Wise Shoreline Cleanup, which helps individuals participate in local shoreline cleanup events, and the Ocean Wise Seafood Program, which enables consumers and businesses to choose sustainable seafood options.

Ocean Wise also offers educational programming on climate change and ocean conservation for children and youth. This includes the mobile Ocean Wise Sea Dome, virtual interactive workshops on ocean conservation, and free education kits and ocean literacy courses. We know we can meet the challenges facing the ocean head on, but we need thousands of people world-wide working together. 

Ocean Wise Youth

One of the key ways Ocean Wise engages Canadians and tackles ocean conservation is through our youth programs. Ocean Wise Youth brings together three hands-on leadership programs: Ocean Bridge, Direct Action, and YouthToSea. These programs provide direct experience in ocean conservation through the lens of community service. Learning from experts in marine conservation, and supported by Ocean Wise, youth are empowered to become impactful ambassadors for the ocean.

The Ocean Bridge program alone brings together 140 people (aged 18 to 30) from all over Canada to learn new skills, make a difference to ocean conservation, and connect with like-minded individuals. Learning from experts through an online platform and in-person learning journeys, ambassadors are empowered to develop service projects related to ocean health and ocean literacy in communities across the country. 

Meet One of Our Alum

Frankie Marquez, a 2019 Ocean Bridge alum, has always been passionate about the ocean. As she grew older, she learned about the different threats the ocean faced, including global warming, pollution, overfishing, and the loss of sea ice. “This endless list of threats made me feel small, lost, anxious, and a little angry. I wanted to take action and to feel I was doing something to help the oceans that I love so much.” That’s when a mentor sent Marquez an application to Ocean Bridge.

Marquez loved her Ocean Bridge experience so much that she eventually wanted to be involved full-time. She now works for the Ocean Bridge team as the Alumni Engagement Manager. She believes in the program and the Ocean Bridge community and decided to get involved in sharing the experience with others.

“The fight against climate change is long, exhausting, and difficult. My advice to any environmentalist finding it difficult to stay motivated is to collaborate and surround yourself with like-minded peers.”

This ocean conservation issue of Root & STEM came about as a result of the development of a scholarship in honour of Danielle Moore, an Ocean Wise Youth alum who also spent time at Pinnguaq’s Makerspace in Iqaluit. Among her many contributions, Moore held a space during the Ocean Bridge learning journey in Haida Gwaii for her cohort to safely discuss challenges and opportunities around sustainability and privilege, opening the minds of her peers to new ways of experiencing the world. She was also a leader in her local community, and organized a Conservation 101 field trip for underserved youth. She volunteered for ocean education programs and in classrooms across the prairies, organized two educational programs for an immersive service expedition in Vancouver, was a key member of the “Ocean Literacy through an Indigenous Lens” project, and led a very successful coding camp for 25 children and their parents.

The Danielle Moore Scholarship was named in honour of Danielle Moore, an Ocean Wise Youth alum

Do you know someone between the ages of 18 and 30 who is passionate about the ocean and marine life? Apply to Ocean Bridge.

This article originally appeared in the sixth issue of Root & STEM, Pinnguaq’s free print and online STEAM resource supporting educators in teaching digital skills