Spotlight on NEOSEC Ocean Literacy Summit Planners – Valerie Perini and Northeastern University Marine Science Center

Valerie Perini is the NEOSEC representative from the Northeastern University Marine Science Center (NUMSC) and is serving on this year’s Ocean Literacy Summit Planning Committee. Northeastern University is the site for the first day of the summit and the Marine Science Center is hosting one of the field trips at its scenic marine research and educational facility on the peninsula at historic East Point in Nahant, Massachusetts.   

Val has been the NEOSEC representative for two years. “With the event being hosted in Boston, I knew I wanted to be involved in the Summit Planning Committee. NEOSEC connects NU to other folks doing similar work in the region.” Val had attended a summit as a Northeastern graduate student. When her boss asked if she was interested in being the NEOSEC representative, she responded, “Yes, I would love to be involved!”

NEOSEC’s mission aligns with that of the NUMSC. “Our mission in the Outreach program is to connect resources of the center to the community, translate knowledge to meet societal needs, inspire interest in marine science careers, and promote environmental literacy. This is key to NEOSEC’s mission as well. Knowing about those other NEOSEC organizations is so valuable. Scientists can share knowledge.”

Val has been part of NU MSC Outreach since her college days. “My background is marine science and research. I studied at Northeastern for both my bachelor’s and master’s. I did an internship with the MSC Outreach Program (through NU’s coop program.) It opened my eyes to being a science communicator and that really resonated with me. I stayed connected with the Outreach program since then. I’ve worked in all different roles at the Marine Science Center and it was field experiences in Nahant and elsewhere that showed me marine science is for me – nature as a classroom.”

 

 

Val is enthusiastic about marine education. We work with all ages. It’s what I love. You have to fine tune your communication skills, more complex with older students, and with younger students, show them how fun nature is. I particularly like helping kids who haven’t had this exposure before, such as recent immigrants who just moved here. It gives them a sense of place. You have to inspire appreciation first before you can expect them to preserve and protect the environment.”

Something Val is concerned with and thinks about a lot, is how to promote diversity and inclusion in the sciences. “What we are striving for but struggle to achieve is diversity and inclusion in this field. Especially at the graduate level and higher, the field is not very diverse. Our goal is to involve people from different backgrounds, cultures, and economically or otherwise disadvantaged groups, in order to achieve a broader perspective that will benefit the field. When we lead a school group in which a majority of students are non-white, it’s tough because the students might have a hard time seeing themselves in this career because of the lack of diversity in the educators and scientists. They think, ‘They don’t look like me.’ I want them to know this is attainable.” 

Val was recently promoted from Outreach Educator to Outreach Program Coordinator. “My job involves less teaching now and more directing and overseeing the program. Our K-12 programs involve a lot of communication with staff, teachers, and scientists around both logistics and curricula/content. Another part of my job is identifying and applying for grants to support our programs, and especially to promote the involvement of economically or otherwise disadvantaged groups, and work towards improving that diversity and inclusion problem I mentioned earlier.  In my new role, I also manage the Marketing and Communications for the Marine Science Center, and work with faculty to help them articulate the broader impacts of their research, which is important for obtaining research funding.”

In looking at her career, Val gets satisfaction from seeing the growth of others. “I’ve been on quite a journey, starting as intern and now as director. Under my guidance and the guidance of my supervisor, seeing the staff I supervise grow and develop, helping them access opportunities, is really powerful for me. I’m proud of the culture of the outreach program.” 

Val, thank you for your passion for your students, your staff, marine education, and NEOSEC! 

NEOSEC Cafe: Using graphic design to connect with your audience

A grants administrator, a graphic designer, and a communications strategist walk into a room . . .  and talk about how they use graphic design to share information with their constituents. The backgrounds are vastly different, but each person uses graphic design to assist with their outreach efforts. Join the next NEOSEC Café on October 12 to learn how the panelists do their work. You’ll leave with a list of resources (some free!) that will help you incorporate graphic design in your communications.

Panel:

  • Sam Andrews, Deputy CFO, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Sean Silva, Graphic Designer, Buttonwood Park Zoo
  • Elaine Brewer, Outreach Specialist, MassWildlife

 

Webinar link:
Time: Oct 12, 2018 1:00 PM Eastern Time

By Computer: https://zoom.us/j/328020204

By Telephone: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833
Meeting ID: 328 020 204

Spotlight on NEOSEC Ocean Literacy Summit Planners – Nina Quaratella and the North American Marine Environment Protection Association

Nina Quaratella is the Education and Outreach Manager at the North American Marine Environment Protection Association. Along with her day job, she is serving on the NEOSEC Planning Committee for this year’s Ocean Literacy Summit.  “I got involved in the NEOSEC Summit Planning committee right when I began working for NAMEPA. NAMEPA has had a presence within NEOSEC for several years but wanted to get more involved. Also, as a young professional I did not have experience planning a Summit. I am using this opportunity to gain experience in what goes into planning an event like this. It takes a lot of work, collaboration, motivation, and organization!”

NAMEPA embodies the NEOSEC mission to leverage and strengthen the region’s extraordinary ocean science and educational assets to advance understanding of the vital connections between people and the ocean. Nina describes her role as the NEOSEC contact for NAMEPA: “As Education and Outreach Manager, it is naturally my role to work alongside other conservation groups and educators for NAMEPA. The bulk of NAMEPA staff work more closely with shipping companies and those in the marine industry, and my role is connecting NAMEPA’s educational materials and programs to scientists, conservationists, and formal and non-formal educators.”

Nina says, “I fell into education because I like people and writing.” She has her science chops too with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a double minor in Biology and Geospatial Technologies. After getting her degree, Nina served two AmeriCorps’ service terms followed by four seasonal jobs in environmental education and habitat restoration, with a marine science focus. All experiences were valuable, but she explains “After a lot of moving around, I was ready for a permanent position. My supervisor at [fellow NEOSEC Member] NBNERR was supportive and I started applying.” Nina describes joining NAMEPA as an odd story. The cascading events are a fine example of what to do when life hands you lemons – make lemonade! After a strong preliminary interview, Nina went on a final interview in her native Rhode Island. The interview did not go well at all. Dejected, she went to her family home in Westerly and hoped to raise her spirits playing volleyball that night. She blew out her knee. Temporarily confined to a wheelchair, she couldn’t return immediately to her seasonal field educator job at NBNERR’s Prudence Island. Unstoppable, she went to see her cousin in a surf competition that just happened to be hosted by NAMEPA. Seeing her wheel through the beach, the co-founder and executive director Carleen Lyden Walker rushed over and handed her a bag with NAMEPA information. Nina read it over, called NAMEPA, and Carleen is now her supervisor. Nina concludes, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Nina is coming up on her 1st year anniversary with NAMEPA. In addition to her responsibilities coordinating education programs, Nina has assumed responsibility running community cleanups, coordinating the NAMEPA college and high school chapter program, and managing the annual art contest. Nina says, “We have the kids creatively express themselves. The theme is ‘Better Shipping for a Better Future’. We use the winning art work in our calendar.” Nina is enthusiastic about educating people that do not ordinarily get exposed to marine science. “We have partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs. We find ways to put resources in new places such as Title 1 schools.” She engages her participants. “I try to end a program with a ‘What can you do?’ activity. I try to connect students to the ocean to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards. I just taught a session and the students were already so well informed about ocean issues.”

Nina is proud of the many free educational downloads available at the NAMEPA website: https://namepa.net/education/materials/preview/ You can download educator guides, activities books, flyers, and more on such topics as “8 Ways to Use Less Plastic,” “An Educator’ s Guide to Marine Debris” in English and Spanish, “Exploring the Marine Environment – Activities & Games for Kids of All Ages,” and “Marine Industry Learning Guide.”  Nina sees download requests from around the world!

In addition to educating students and the public, NAMEPA brings marine industry into the conversation about sustainable practices.  Most of NAMEPA’s members are shipping companies. NAMEPA hosts large events where there is a marine presence such as a recent event in Houston and an upcoming event in New York City. These are attended by conservation groups, educators, and the industry. Nina hasn’t seen enough appreciation of the role that marine industry plays. She points out, “Much of what we use has spent part of its life on a ship.” Forging strong relationships with the marine industry is important to address marine-related concerns. Nina states, “The industry is receptive to sustainability messages. Some have to make changes [due to regulations], but a lot want to protect the ocean. They rely on it.”

Nina’s biggest concern is that many people think the ocean is too far gone, that we can’t do anything. “I don’t think that is true at all! Their small changes can make a difference. I don’t want hopelessness.” Thank you Nina for your positive can-do attitude and contributions to planning the 2018 Ocean Literacy Summit!

2018 Boston Harbor Educator Conference

Join the Massachusetts Marine Educators for our annual Boston Harbor Educator Conference on September 29, 2018 at UMass Boston. The theme will be “Our New Boston Harbor Shoreline.” Conference will include exciting speakers, hands-on workshops, a panel discussion and an afternoon cruise to the Boston Harbor Islands! Our keynote speaker will be Frederick A. Laskey, Executive Director, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).

 This year’s workshop topics include coastal storms, sea level rise, ocean acidification, stormwater, North Atlantic right whales, sturgeon conservation, and seashells as versatile teaching tools.

 For registration and full conference details, visit http://ma-marine-ed.org/mmeevents/boston-harbor-educators-conference/. Please note that early registration rates end on September 10!

The Restoration of Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve – Uniting a Community in Achieving Climate Resiliency

by Mary Ellen Mateleska, Director of Education & Conservation at the Mystic Aquarium

Nestled between the tree-lined streets of Stonington Borough and the rolling waves of the Sound lies the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve; a tract of land with a rich history and an even richer biodiversity. On any given day, visitors walking the path along the edge of the Preserve may see elementary school students participating in a lesson on Long Island Sound while searching for crabs and snails along the rocky shore, artists with their easels painting the breathtaking views of the historic homes among the backdrop of the salt marsh, or hear a chorus of song birds flying through the grassland hunting for their afternoon meal.  Over the last few decades the introduction of invasive plant species and the aftermath damage of strong storms have left the Preserve in need of some work to restore native plants and prepare this area for future climate related challenges.  In January 2015 Mystic Aquarium and Avalonia Land Conservancy, under the guidance of the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, began a collaboration to restore the 2.6 acres of coastal marsh and grassland habitats by engaging volunteers in on the ground stewardship activities.

Located in the Stonington Borough section of Stonington, Connecticut, the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve, owned by Avalonia Land Conservancy, is the last publicly accessible green space in this coastal area that is a very popular tourism destination. The eastern boundary of the Preserve faces Little Narragansett Bay and overlooks Sandy Point Preserve and is comprised of several habitat zones including dunes, coastal grasslands, and a tidal wetland area. In addition to boasting precious resources of significance to the health of Long Island Sound, the site’s former role as a stoneware kiln in the 1800s marks it an important historic preservation site. Pieces of pottery can still be found strewn around the area and finer works are preserved at a nearby museum. Today, the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve is open to the public for passive recreational activities (motor vehicles, bicycles, horses, and hunting prohibited); a dedicated corps of Avalonia volunteers work year-round to ensure that boundary signage is in place and that hiking trails are maintained.

As with many sites in the Long Island Sound watershed, the Preserve has faced natural and anthropogenic challenges to its health. These threats are most evident in tidal areas of the Preserve, which encompasses grassy marsh habitat, tidal pools, gravel and sand pockets and rock outcrops. This area provides critical feeding and roosting areas for migratory birds including cormorants, geese and ducks, shorebirds, egrets, and herons. Despite past projects to allow upland storm water drainage and to restore tidal exchange in the marsh, surface water failed to drain from the marsh and the highest tides did not fully recede.  What was intended to be a tidal system with some level of tidal exchange turned into a system with intermittent depressions of stagnant water.  This restriction of tidal circulation promoted Phragmites growth which dominated much of the marsh. The loss of regular tidal flow and stagnant conditions also produce unbearable numbers of mosquitoes, which necessitates several pesticide applications per season. The mosquitoes created a nuisance and potential disease vector to the surrounding neighborhood and to preserve visitors, thereby lowering their quality of life and creating a public health hazard.  Complicating the already challenging conditions at the Preserve, in 2012 Superstorm Sandy overtopped the dune, which pushed sand and gravel into the marsh. The sand covered marsh vegetation and partially filled a drainage channel, bringing with it flooding, debris deposits, erosion, and a decreased ability to serve as a buffer from land-based runoff.  In summation, there was a great need to restore balance to this system.

In an effort to prepare the site for future restoration and mitigate the mosquito infestation, CT DEEP’s Wetlands Habitat and Mosquito Management Program (WHAMM) worked to open a new drainage area, eradicate invasive Phragmites, and create channels for better flow of floodwaters.  The result of this intensive work was a coastal wetland area that was primed for the replanting of native marsh plants.

Both, Avalonia Land Conservancy and Mystic Aquarium, share a mission to inspire the community to protect and conserve our natural resources through direct hands-on stewardship actions.  This project was recognized by both organizations as an ideal opportunity to educate the community on coastal resiliency in light of rising sea levels due to climate change and the potential for increased storms.  “Using a climate adaptive planting plan and engaging the community in a shared vision of coastal stewardship makes this project a model for how people can join us in fulfilling our conservation based missions” explained Beth Sullivan, Avalonia Land Conservancy Stonington Committee Chair.    Using their breadth and depth of resources – including a robust education and conservation department – Mystic Aquarium is leading this charge with a goal of engaging up to 2,800 volunteer hours in the restoration of the Preserve.   Beth Sullivan adds “Community participation in the restoration of the Preserve will not only encourage the community to be part of something big but will also instill a greater sense of ownership of this local treasure.”

Since its onset, there has been overwhelming support for this project. Stonington Borough neighbors offered water supplies to cultivate the growth of new plants and college students conducted soil tests to assist with the selection of appropriate plants for each habitat.  As of September 2015, more than 170 volunteers participated in the first planting season.  High school students from the Marine Science Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut in Groton and college students from Mitchell and Connecticut Colleges in New London prepared the site by removing Phragmites and other debris while groups of volunteers participated in the planting of grass plugs and native shrubs.  Although there is still much work scheduled to be accomplished before the completion of the grant period, the success of this community effort is evident with an increase in the presence of both marsh flora and fauna.

By using a climate adaptive planting plan to accommodate for climate change effects including saltwater intrusion and extreme precipitation, while engaging the community through stewardship initiatives, this project could serve as a model for regional coastal communities. It seeks to “rebalance the system” by  restoring and protecting habitats for the species that rely on this site, but also ensures optimal health and balance for the last public green space available in Stonington Borough. Public visitors can enjoy having access to the site as they learn about and gain a sense of appreciation for the Sound well into the future.

Educational Passages’ Global Ocean Literacy Program

Somewhere between Portugal and Wales, West sprung a leak in its hull.  Don’t worry. West is an unmanned 5′ sailboat originally launched from Maine, recovered in Portugal two years later, restored, relaunched and found, again, in Wales. Portuguese messages stored in the hull were dried, digitized and shared with the American students who launched the vessel four years prior.   West is one of 80 mini-boats finding their way around the global oceans.  These mini-boats are part of the Global Ocean Literacy Program developed through educationalpassages.com.  Learn more by emailing us at miniboats@educationalpassages.com.

Climate Science & Education Professional Development Workshop

 

Climate Science & Education Professional Development Workshop:

Resilience: It’s Not Just Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

University of Connecticut Avery Point Campus, Groton, Connecticut

Tuesday, July 11 through Thursday, July 13, 2017

Click here to register for the workshop

Download the flyer

NOAA’s Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP) and Connecticut Sea Grant are collaborating with Federal, State and NGO partners to convene a climate science and education workshop for formal and informal educators. Participants will learn from and interact with climate science, education and communication experts. The workshop will focus on topics of climate science and resilience strategies for the northeast region of the United States, with a goal of connecting educators and their students and/or audiences to the best available science-based information and pedagogic resources.

Registration for the workshop is on a first come first serve basis and the number of participants is very limited! When enrollment has reached capacity, online registration will be closed. Registration is $40 per person. It includes daily lunch, snacks, field trips, and a plethora of resources! Attendees are responsible for arranging their own transportation and lodging.

To register for the workshop you must fully complete the online form and send a check or purchase order to: Connecticut Sea Grant – Climate Workshop, 1080 Shennecossett Rd, Groton, CT 06340.

You will receive an email confirming your participation in the workshop only when your registration fee has been processed. A detailed workshop itinerary, lodging and dining recommendations, and additional information will be sent to all confirmed registrants well in advance of the workshop.

All attendees will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation in the workshop as well as the number of professional development hours earned.

 

For more info re: the overall workshop, contact Diana Payne at: diana.payne@uconn.edu. phone: 860.405.9248

Questions re: your registration fee? contact Andrea Kelly at: andrea.kelly@uconn.edu. phone: 860.405.9128

 

A professional development workshop for formal and informal educators who wish to:

  • Increase their knowledge of climate science, and resilience strategies;
  • Learn about climate impacts and adaptations in the northeastern US; and
  • Translate climate science and resilience to the classroom and/or informal education settings.

 

Times: 8:30am – 5:00pm daily.

 

Place: Marine Sciences Building, Room 103, The University of Connecticut – Avery Point, 1080 Shennecossett Road, Groton, CT 06340

 

Primary Contacts:  

Featured Activities:

  • Presentations by scientists and educators on climate science and resilience.
  • Activities to increase participant climate science knowledge.
  • Activities and demonstrations on teaching climate, engaging in resilience activities and related topics.
  • Connections to the Next Generation Science Standards.

 

Notes on Food & Lodging:

  • Lunch and snacks will be provided during the workshop.
  • Participants must make their own travel and overnight arrangements. Lodging and dining recommendations and additional information, will be sent to all confirmed registrants well in advance of the workshop.

 

 

 

 

Lighting the Way with Wind and Solar: Pathways to a Sustainable Energy Future 

MITS, Inc. in collaboration with the Lloyd Center for the Environment and the South Shore Natural Science Center, will be holding a two-day workshop for grades 4-8 educators on March 17th and 18th. It will highlight inquiry-based activities that engage participants in hands-on, minds-on learning. Click here for more information.
Don’t miss their summer professional development series as well.

Gundalow Gatherings

On April 29th, Seven dinners on the same night at friends’ homes. Each dinner includes a presenter whose topic is connected to our mission. This year the theme is Voyaging to Rivers, Bays and Oceans worldwide. Humans and the oceans are inextricably linked.  Click here for more information.