The Blog Aquatic » kids http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Saving the Ocean One Cleanup—and One Jar of Pickles—at a Time http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/14/saving-the-ocean-one-cleanup-and-one-jar-of-pickles-at-a-time/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/14/saving-the-ocean-one-cleanup-and-one-jar-of-pickles-at-a-time/#comments Fri, 14 Sep 2012 14:00:00 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2562

Nicholas used a tasty family recipe to raise money for the ocean.
Credit: Courtesy Nicholas Wheeler.

Nicholas Wheeler of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has been busy this summer canning some seventy jars of pickles. What do pickles have to do with the ocean?

The 14-year-old is quick to draw a direct link. Among the weirdest things he’s found during beach cleanups was a full jar of pickles that had never been opened. Besides, they’re one of his favorite things to munch on.

“My mom’s grandmother had a pickle recipe,” he says. “I wanted to try it out because I love pickles. I’m going to sell them and give the money to Ocean Conservancy because ever since I was little, I’ve loved the ocean.”

Nicholas enjoying the water he works to protect.

Nicholas has set his sights on becoming a marine biologist, and is accumulating knowledge about all-things-ocean while volunteering two hours a day year-round at the Coastal Discovery Museum.

This go-getter is not only raising funds for the ocean with thanks to hard work in the kitchen and that family recipe, he’s also donating his time along the Atlantic Ocean shores of his island home. He caught beach-cleanup fever in 2011, when he organized and led not one, not two, but six local events.

It all started because his mom, a P.E. teacher, wanted some of her students to do a service project. There was no one to lead it, so Nicholas figured he’d step up.

“The cleanup was so cool, I decided to start my own organization,” he explains. Kids Helping Kids Help the Environment matches middle and high school students with elementary school kids for mentoring and service projects. The mission is to spark a love of the environment and community service.

When it comes to cleanups, Nicholas goes the extra mile. He rounds up volunteers and gathers bags and gloves, plus a scale to weigh all the trash. He’s even lined up a radio station to cover the event he’s planned as part of the International Coastal Cleanup on September 15th at Mitchellville State Park.

He’ll be teaching kids of all ages to become recycling ninjas by handing out Ocean Conservancy’s wallet-size recycling decoder and explaining how anyone can help make a clean ocean possible.

“I think a lot of kids don’t know much about the ocean so they don’t do anything— but once you talk to them and teach them how to help, they’re glad to,” says Nicholas.

“I like to thank everyone who has picked up even one piece of trash,” he adds. “Every piece helps, and I always tell kids you don’t have to go to a beach cleanup to make a difference. If you’re on a walk or a bike ride and you see trash, pick it up—because otherwise it could end up in the ocean.”

Wondering how you can support a clean, healthy ocean? Reduce the amount of trash in your daily life, recycle and sign up for the International Coastal Cleanup!

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A Small Boy’s Example: Anyone Can Make a Difference for the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/22/a-small-boys-example-anyone-can-make-a-difference-for-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/22/a-small-boys-example-anyone-can-make-a-difference-for-the-ocean/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 14:34:28 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2256

Instead of saying “cheese,” Ryan shouts “FISHIES!” The ocean is lucky to have this boy on its side.

You are never too old—or too young—to have an impact on the world.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a five-year-old with a big heart. Ryan, whose favorite fish is “the puffer fish ’cause he blows up into a big prickly ball,” wanted to help the ocean.

With his parents Angela and Matt, he came up with the idea of creating and selling ocean-themed magnets. And he generously decided to donate half the profits to Ocean Conservancy to help protect ocean life.

When Angela considered using starfish or sand dollars for the magnets, Ryan was the one who quickly nixed this idea because they are living creatures. Instead, he picked driftwood.

This truly is a family affair. Ryan had the idea to create the magnets and the desire to help the ocean, Dad created the artwork and Mom found a local boutique to sell them.

Love of ocean knowledge
As I talked with Ryan, I was amazed by his knowledge at such a young age. He walked around Ocean Conservancy’s St. Petersburg, Florida, office and easily identified the various marine animals in pictures on our walls.

He spouted fun facts, such as, “comb jellies are not related to jellyfish…they’re bioluminescent.” After seeing a kelp forest poster, he informed me that “they get kelp to make ice cream and paint.”

Witnessing trash hurting wildlife
I was curious about what motivated Ryan to protect the ocean and its creatures. He told me, “I want to help them because I felt bad when pollution like bags got in the water… I saw a bird picking at garbage and a garbage bag almost on a shark’s gills.”

I asked Ryan what he would tell people about trash in the ocean. He earnestly hopes people will dispose of trash properly.

You can make a difference
Often when I’m discussing taking action for a cause with people, they relay the sentiment, “I’m just one person, I can’t possibly have that big of an impact on the world.”
Ryan proves that you can.

To follow your heart like Ryan does and help protect clean water, you can make simple changes in your daily life such as becoming a recycling ninja, being a green boater and making educated decisions about your seafood.

You can also participate in local waterway cleanups such as Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Ryan will be there this fall, will you? Sign up to Cleanup!

Learn more about Ryan and his cause The Fishes Wishes on his Facebook page.

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Sanibel Sea School Aims to Transform, Not Just Teach http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/04/09/sanibel-sea-school-aims-to-transform-not-just-teach/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/04/09/sanibel-sea-school-aims-to-transform-not-just-teach/#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2012 17:58:58 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=105 Child examining a seawall at low tide

Photo by Bruce Neill, Sanibel Sea School

People fall in love with the ocean in many different ways: surfing, boating, scuba diving, beach-walking. Sanibel Sea School, a day-school program on Sanibel Island, Florida, aims to help young people fall in the love with the ocean through intellectual discovery.

The school is the brain-child of marine biology professor J. Bruce Neill and his wife, Evelyn, who have high hopes that some day all people will value, understand and care for the ocean. It’s a “broad-reaching, idyllic goal,” Bruce says, which is why they’re focused on a much more manageable mission to “improve the ocean’s future one person at a time.”

Or in this case, up to 30 young people at a time. Called “college for 8-year-olds,” Sanibel Sea School offers students aged 6 to 13 two half-day courses a day focused on topics like gastropod mollusks and mangrove forests.

But instructors at Sanibel Sea School don’t just lecture students about mangroves; they take them out on field trips to experience them firsthand. “We taste them, we smell them, we slog around in the mud,” Bruce says. “We get extraordinarily lost in a giant jungle of mangroves.”

This experiential learning helps solidify in the students’ minds what they’ve seen and heard. “When we discover things out there in nature that we didn’t know existed, it changes who we are,” Bruce says. “It becomes transformative.”

When class is over, students receive a diploma that not only certifies that they’ve completed the course but highlights the five most important facts they learned that day. These take-home messages are an important launching pad for a parent-child conversation once the students have left Sanibel, Bruce says. And it’s a great way to educate parents too.

Kids in snorkel gear examining an ocean critter

Photo by Bruce Neill, Sanibel Sea School

“What we’re really trying to instill in kids is a passion for discovery and knowledge,” Bruce says. “We want them to go away knowing that there’s more to discover about the ocean and that they’re the ones that can do it – all they have to do is wade out into it.”

One of the group’s frequent outdoor activities involves paddling surfboards out to a buoy offshore. But the paddlers get much more than a chance at winning the coveted “golden coconut” award in this relay race; they get an intimate experience with a vast, deep ocean that for many of them is a source of fear before it becomes something they want to protect.

Conservation messages are an important part of Sanibel’s curriculum. During field trips, students are asked to take five minutes of their time to collect trash from the natural environment. Instructors use this as a learning tool, measuring and quantifying the litter to allow the students to see the impact they made by cleaning up and helping them understand what types of materials are commonly left behind.

“Our goal is to do transformative education,” Bruce says, “where it really changes who you are and how you see yourself fitting in to the rest of the environment, to the rest of the world, to the rest of the community.”

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