On November 19, the second annual Long Island Youth Ocean Conservation Summit was held at Stony Brook University on Long Island, NY. Organized by the Coastal Steward and Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, this event engaged 60 participants from across Long Island and New York State. Participants were inspired by opening remarks from author and aquanaut Ellen Prager who spoke of her adventures in ocean conservation. Everyone then got a free copy of her book Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime! Participants also heard a panel discussion highlighting marine conservation issues in the coastal ecosystems of New York and New Jersey. This featured lively discussion between Mel Morris from the Open Space Stewardship Program, Mae Henry from Clean Ocean Action, and Sherryl Jones from NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources. Afterwards, they heard from guest speakers Laura Kasa and Ben May. Laura Kasa, the former director for Save Our Shores spoke of her key role in the movement to ban plastic grocery bags in California. Ben May, one of last year’s Sea Youth Rise Up (SYRUp) Delegation and a past Youth Ocean Conservation Summit mini grant recipient, spoke about SYRUp and how to have an effective mini grant project.
Youth attendees then had the opportunity to team up with mentors from a variety of local conservation organizations to develop action plans for their ocean conservation projects. During this time, participants created project plans including efforts to implement a reusable bottle system at their schools, an educational program for Elementary school students, an effort to press the New York Senate to not preempt Suffolk County’s plastic grocery bag ban, and create items to promote environmentalism. After sharing their projects with the group, participants wrapped up their day with a viewing the Sea Youth Rise Up Campaign’s documentary.
A special thanks to all of the event presenters, organizers, and volunteers who made this event possible, as well as all of our youth participants - welcome to the Youth Ocean Conservation Team!
Guest Blog by Ryan Moralevitz
I was inspired to start this project because I really love the ocean and at my favorite beach this past year they lost a ton of their sand and they did a beach nourishment. It made me want to help. So when I found out about the grant opportunity, I knew I wanted to build a mangrove garden!
First, I collected donated mangrove seedlings from the Florida Aquarium, which I put in buckets with mud and ocean water. Then my dad built a wooden structure to hold the buckets. Next, he carved out a wooden crab from a drawing I made and I took it to school. At school the kids had already donated used plastic bottle caps and toys and together we made a recycled, crab piece of art to hang. It makes the garden look really cool!
Because we were allowed to set the garden up at my school a lot of kids have been asking questions and have wanted to help with the project which is really neat.
I am currently helping to plan a field trip to plant the mangroves this year locally since our beach can use them. This project has taught me that it feels good to give back to the community and get other people involved.
The Fishes Wishes Mangrove Garden was funded by a Youth Ocean Conservation Team mini-grant awarded after Ryan’s participation in the 2015 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in Sarasota, FL. Thanks to our partners at the Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program for their support of this effort.
Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival:
Join young ocean conservation leaders, special guests and members of your community on Friday, December 9, to celebrate ocean conservation and 100 years of the National Park Service as we kick off the 2016 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit weekend! This year’s event will feature a variety of short films highlighting ocean conservation, and a special presentation - Songs and Stories from our National Parks! National Parks are best known for wildlife and scenery, but the reasons our parks matter go far beyond the tangible. From Yellowstone to Hawai’i Volcanoes, Gettysburg to Biscayne - national parks are powerful places that impact people in extraordinary ways. At this year’s event, Biscayne National Park Ranger, Gary Bremen and South Florida troubadour, Grant Livingston will celebrate the National Park Service Centennial by blending music and storytelling to share deeply personal experiences from national parks across the country. This journey winds through a full range of emotions, from laughter to tears, and will leave you uplifted, proud, and anxious to create your own memories in your national parks.
The event will also feature a showcase of student-led ocean conservation projects, ocean conservation films produced by young people, a special screening of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation Film – Coral Reefs: Trouble in Paradise, and a silent auction/raffle fundraiser with marine themed artwork and other items. Proceeds will support the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit program. Admission to this event is free, however due to limited seating an RSVP is required. Attendees can RSVP using the form at www.yocs.org.
The event will take place in Mote Marine Laboratory’s WAVE Center. Doors open at 6:00pm for our silent auction and showcase of student conservation projects.
2016 Youth Ocean Conservation Film Competition: Through this competition, students will highlight ocean conservation issues by creating short films to raise awareness of these topics. Winning films will be shown to the public at the community film festival on November 13! This competition is open to all students in grades PreK-College. Submissions are due October 31, 2016. Full contest details and entry information are available at: www.yocs.org.