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!