The 9th annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit united an inspiring group of over 230 youth and adults from across the country at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL to tackle the pressing challenges facing our blue planet. The #YOCS19 weekend kicked off with our annual Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival, bringing together a community audience to Mote to celebrate the important role of youth leadership in protecting the ocean. YOCS alumni highlighted their conservation projects through interactive displays while a silent auction fundraiser helped raise funds to support the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit mini-grant program, that directly supports the work of Summit attendees. Film Festival participants dove deeper into ocean conservation issues and solutions with a series of short films created by YOCS participants. Our feature film, The Smog of the Sea, artfully introduced audience members to the challenges of plastic pollution and the importance of addressing this critical issue.
Saturday’s Summit kicked off with an impactful keynote address from Julie Henry, who highlighted key leadership lessons and action steps to help YOCS participants identify their goals and unlock their potential to change the world. Following Julie’s presentation, YOCS alumni shared the ocean conservation work they’ve led in their communities over the past year, and highlighted key lessons learned from their experiences. A critical component of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit is the process of creating an action plan to tackle an ocean conservation challenge. First year YOCS participants had the opportunity to work alongside their peers and mentors to identify an issue to address with a conservation campaign and develop a plan to take on this issue in their communities. Returning participants explored career opportunities in the ocean conservation field though an engaging panel discussion.
The remainder of the Summit engaged participants in a variety of skill building workshops focused on topics including filmmaking, fundraising, working with government officials, using art to communicate conservation messages, plastic pollution prevention, interpretation and more. These sessions were designed to equip students with the skills to bring their projects to life back in their local communities.
An important message at the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit is that the event itself is just the beginning. Throughout the year, participants are supported as they enact change in their communities, through direct funding to implement their conservation projects provided by our mini-grant program, and through the ability to amplify the stories from their work through our networks. We look forward to seeing the impact of our 2019 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit participants and are grateful for their dedication to protecting our blue planet!
A special thanks to Mote Marine Laboratory and our Youth Ocean Conservation Summit speakers, volunteers, and mentors for their support of our Summit participants. This event is made possible by an incredible community of sponsors and partners and we’d like to thank the following organizations for helping us bring this program to life: the Johnson Ohana Foundation, Captain Planet Foundation, PopSockets, Klean Kanteen, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Wyland Galleries, Mote Scientific Foundation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Sobel Designs, Rogue Wave, Sarasota Bay Watch, Keep Florida Beautiful, FLOW Kayak and Paddle Tours, Fin Pin, Cape Clasp, EarthEcho International, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, The Fishes Wishes, Sharks4Kids, Ocean Needs Everyone, Sebago Watersports, Carly Mejeur, Kelly of the Wild, The Field School, Youth Making Ripples, Classic Harbor Line, Jim Abernethy’s SCUBA Adventures, and Hooked On SUP.