OSO's 2016-2017 Survey Results

During the annual July-June program cycle, O'Neill Sea Odyssey administers two surveys to each participating group. Teachers and group leaders are asked to fill out a survey after participating in the program, to get their feedback on the organization and effectiveness of the program, program materials, and the OSO website. A second survey is read aloud to the students that ask them (by a show of hands) about their knowledge of, and attitudes toward, the environment. This survey is administered to the students before and after the program, and thereby measures the amount of change in their environmental awareness.

OSO undertakes the analyses of these two surveys and other program data for use in evaluating the program, further planning, and developing funds for program expansion and replication. Here are the highlights from the 2016-2017 evaluation recently completed by Applied Survey Research.


The primary purpose of the program is to foster awareness of environmental stewardship and personal responsibility among program participants. This is done by delivering an interactive curriculum that emphasizes the connection between land and sea through a multidisciplinary approach including ecology, biology, and mathematics.

The OSO website provides extensive curriculum and learning materials that are designed to introduce students to the topics they will be learning in the program. Teachers and group leaders are encouraged to use these materials with their students before attending the program and afterwards as follow-up activities.

Overall, the program was very well attended by the target population of students; the program materials were frequently used; and the program was very highly regarded by teachers and group leaders. In addition, Student Survey results suggest that the OSO program succeeded in bringing all students to a higher level of environmentally-conscious behavior and knowledge despite some factors (such as economic background) that may have limited how much environmental awareness a student had before attending the program.

Donor Spotlight
Aiden and Grandpa Aboard the O'Neill Sea Odyssey 4-12-2016-crop2.jpg

Larry Wallerstein

"As a sailor myself, I know what an ocean-going experience can do to impact the lives of people, especially our youth."

We've asked Larry Wallerstein, one of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's long-time supporters, to share his thoughts about his unique connection to, and history with, the OSO program. Here's what he had to say....

Serving Santa Cruz Rotary over the years as a Director, Member of the Benevolence and Grants Committee, and as Chair of the Grants Subcommittee, part of Rotary service to the community is finding worthwhile projects benefiting the community. One such project Rotary supported economically is my personal favorite: the O’Neill Sea Odyssey. I have watched them in action for many years, as busload after busload of students, many who have never seen the sea, are treated to a day of science and wonder on our ocean. The amount of interactive learning and focus by these students, and their proven retention of science regarding conservation and saving our oceans, combined with one of the most fun day trips many students will ever experience, is phenomenal. Thanks in part to Rotary, OSO owns three Apple iPads so that student information from experiments may be uploaded to a website in real time, and the students can visit their work on-line. Additionally, in the three ocean going sails that I have attended on behalf of Rotary, it has been amazing to observe the carefully thought out interaction of learning about the sea, sea life, working with microscopes, working with compasses, working on iPads, and working in teams these students experience. This is one of the best programs for young students I have ever seen. Add in the wonder of being on the ocean and learning what is in each drop of water, and a day of wonder is assured.

At a personal level, as a sailor myself, I was privileged on one of these sails to have my grandson, Aiden, as an attendee. The joy he experienced, concluding in our joint photo “at the wheel” of the catamaran, is a lifetime memory.

Originally, supporting O'Neill Sea Odyssey was my idea, as my personal relationship to the ocean, combined with Rotary’s keen interest in benefiting local youth, and sponsoring charitable programs of value, was a perfect fit. That initial drive has been augmented year after year by our Rotary, as each successive President and Board has been thrilled to support this program.

As someone who lives on the ocean, and has been the personal beneficiary of the joy and health sustaining benefits of being in and on the water, it is a joy to be able to afford students, many of whom have never had a chance to be on the Bay, an opportunity to spend time on the trampoline, working in unison, and learning ocean conservation lessons that have proven to stick with them through their lives. In my opinion, with the passing of Jack O’Neill and the approaching milestone of serving 100,000 students, there has never been a more relevant time to support this wonderful program.

Rotary Club of Santa Cruz Provides $10,466 Grant to O'Neill Sea Odyssey

The Santa Cruz Rotary Club presented a grant of $10,466 to O’Neill Sea Odyssey on December 1, 2017. Club President Annie Asche and Club member Larry Wallerstein accompanied teacher Christy Lasher-Zwerling’s 4th/5th grade combination class from Del Mar Elementary School in Live Oak for its science and stewardship lessons that morning on Monterey Bay.

The grant was provided from the Club’s Foundation. “We are very pleased to support this program, which gives youth a chance to become future stewards of our ocean and its ecology,” said Larry Wallerstein. “As a sailor myself, I know what an ocean-going experience can do to impact the lives of people, especially our youth.”

“We deeply appreciate the support of the Rotary Club of Santa Cruz, which will make participation in ocean-going science possible for scores of youth,” said O’Neill Sea Odyssey Executive Director, Dan Haifley.

SC Rotary Club President, Annie Asche, OSO Executive Director, Dan Haifley, and Rotary Club Member, Larry Wallerstein

SC Rotary Club President, Annie Asche, OSO Executive Director, Dan Haifley, and Rotary Club Member, Larry Wallerstein


Thank you, Larry and Santa Cruz Rotary. We are grateful for your continued support of our Ocean Stewards.

Jack O'Neill Tribute Tees

1923   JACK   2017

------ LIMITED EDITION ------

T R I B U T E  T E E S

A collection of limited edition tees have been introduced by the O'Neill brand to honor the legend that was Jack O'Neill. Each tee highlights a decade in Jack’s adventurous history, starting with the 1940’s. Jack was a surfer, ocean lover, boating enthusiast, wetsuit pioneer, balloonist, and founder of the iconic worldwide surf company O’Neill. He recently passed away of natural causes at the age of 94 in Santa Cruz, CA, and was honored with what people are calling the largest worldwide paddle out in history, with thousands in attendance. A portion of the proceeds from these tees will be donated to O’Neill Sea Odyssey.


1940’s Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:

In 1942, when World War II broke out, Jack volunteered for the Navy Air Corps, igniting a lifelong passion for flight.  This shirt is inspired by his experience, and the 220-horsepower Wacos Jack flew during that time.  After the war, Jack and his friends went on to create an aerial advertising business.

1950’s Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:

When Jack first invented the wetsuit, each suit was custom-fit to the customer and made to order.  This tee shows an early fitting chart with all the key measurements, along with Jack’s original Surf Shop logo.

1960’s Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:


Bob Cooper, a respected surfer from Malibu, worked at the O’Neill Surf Shop in Santa Cruz and appeared in the “Cold Cure” ad in Surfer magazine.  The ad featured on this tee helped put O’Neill on the map, and the brand would soon become known for their creative advertising.

1970’s Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:

The SuperSuit was a drysuit that could be blown up to be an airtight survival suit, used mostly in the diving industry, including the US Navy.  Jack got the idea from his days ballooning, when he’d often get stranded in middle of the ocean.  This tee features one of the original ads for the SuperSuit.

1980’s Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:

The front of this tee features the popular “The Chill Killer” wetsuit logo, which launched in the 80’s and was shown in ads featuring the legendary surfer, Martin Potter.  The back of this tee features the “circle surfer” O’Neill brand logo, which has made a comeback over the years.

1990’s Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:

The “Animal” wetsuit launched in the 90’s was said by Jack to be “surfing’s biggest breakthrough since I invented the surfsuit.”  It represented 38 years of hardcore research and development in search of the ultimate high performance wetsuit.  This tee features the logo that was on the chest of the wetsuit.

Retrospective Jack O’Neill Tribute Tee:

This tee is a retrospective of Jack’s expansive career and life, which he lived to the fullest.  A waterman and inventor at heart, we thank Jack for all he’s contributed to help each of us surf longer.  As Jack once said, “The three most important things in life.  Surf, surf, surf.”

Thank you, Jack, for everything!

And thank you, O'Neill brand, for your continued support.

Adam Steckley
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We're halfway into our 100,000th Student Campaign and as of today, have served 96,517 Ocean Stewards. Since our milestone celebration began on May 1, more than 3,750 students have participated in the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program and we're super excited to continue our journey over the next seven months. We're grateful for the support from individuals and businesses who have helped us raise over $22,000 toward our goal of earning $1 per student, or $100,000. Please be sure to join us at one of our many community fund-raisers in 2018 where you, too, can help support this distinctive achievement. We look forward to celebrating with you!


Last night, in the Crow's Nest Harbor Room, O'Neill Sea Odyssey celebrated another kind of distinction, that of the annual holiday lighting of the Walton Lighthouse in the Santa Cruz Harbor. More than 35 community supporters joined the festivities and counted down to the flipping of the switch. Distinguished guests included Santa Cruz Mayor, Cynthia Chase, Port Commissioner Chairperson, Toby Goddard, and Santa Cruz Port Director, Marian Olin. The special guest of honor was local artist and former World War II aviator, Ed Larson, who had prepared a poem (and drawing) for the celebration which was read by Mrs. Olin.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Neary

Photo courtesy of Jaime Neary

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Many thanks to Ed, the event sponsors, and everyone who attended. We greatly appreciate your support and wish you all a happy holiday season.

Adam Steckley
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We are grateful for the support received yesterday during #GivingTuesday. Our Ocean Stewards appreciate YOU and send their thanks....

Teacher Spotlight

Kimberly Kellam

"My students understand that our OSO program comes with the responsibility of giving back to our community."

We've asked Kimberly Kellam, one of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's teacher participants, to share her thoughts about her unique experience with the OSO program. Here's what she had to say...

Four years ago, as a first-year teacher in Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, my 6th grade science team was sent detailed information about the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program. For us, serving socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, we took one look at the pictures - Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, a sailing catamaran, small group sizes, hands-on learning - and thought we’d never have the opportunity for our students to attend. With one phone call, however, we learned that donor support provides the necessary funding and our financial worries subsided. That was the start of our journey with OSO and we've attended every year since.

The first year my classes attended OSO (and my first year teaching) we were fortunate to be featured in one of the lessons (Lesson 2) filmed to provide a "virtual" program for classrooms unable to attend on location. I will forever be grateful that I have a lasting memory of my first year teaching with such a wonderful group of students and a program that has forever impacted the students and myself.



My students understand that our OSO program comes with the responsibility of giving back to our community. After returning from our first Sea Odyssey trip, I had my students brainstorm potential service projects to benefit the community for what we learned during our adventures. One of my students came up with the brilliant idea of making reusable bags out of old t-shirts. After researching different designs, we decided on a style of t-shirt bag that needed to be cut, turned inside out, and sewn on the bottom. The idea was a success and my students loved making the bags but my sewing machine, not so much!

After learning about the devastating effects of plastic bags on our oceans, and the microscopic level to which plastic can photo-degrade, many students were committed to giving everyone they knew a t-shirt bag in order to lessen the amount of plastic bags used. We have now refined our design and reduced the amount of supplies we use to make them. This last year, we cut the bottom of the t-shirts into about 15 strips and tied them together to seal the bottom. Students reported making more of these types of bags at home because they did not need a sewing machine to complete the bag!

I continue to support and participate with O'Neill Sea Odyssey over the years because of the impact the program has on the students at my school. Every year I am blown away by the amount of students that say they’ve never been on a boat before; and being on the boat gives students a real life picture of our ocean and some of the wonders that live in it. The biggest impact that is left on them is potential career choices for the future. Too often in the classroom, we only read about scientists or study their findings, but OSO gives us the opportunity to meet scientists and be field scientists for a day. For many of them, this is the first time they consider pursuing higher education to have the opportunity to work like those they see at OSO. As their teacher, I can provide them other resources related to careers in marine biology because I first learned about their interests at O'Neill Sea Odyssey. 

What does the ocean mean to you?

To me, the ocean means power, beauty, and mystery. As a child, I have vivid memories of being tumbled in waves and being thrown under the water. Instead of being (too) scared, I was more curious, how could I make it through the waves without being tumbled? How did water have so much power to push me around? I loved exploring the kelp and little sand crabs that appeared on the shore, then looking out to the horizon, seeing whale spouts and dolphins I always wondered how the different sized species can interact and live in harmony with one another. Watching the sea life, waves, and sunsets on the ocean will be the most beautiful thing I will ever see in my life. Clearly, the more I interacted with the ocean, the more questions it left me wanting to answer. Questions that my students ask me today and while I might not be able to answer them all, we will explore them together, many aboard the Team O'Neill catamaran. The beauty behind the ocean is all the life that lies within.

Photo courtesy of Doug Jones.

Photo courtesy of Doug Jones.


Thank you, Kimberly, for sharing your experience and continuing to inspire your students to be stewards of the ocean. We are grateful for your support and happy to have your class as part of our virtual lesson series.

OSO's Ocean Stewards Give Thanks
Mr. Casper's 5th grade students from New Republic Elementary in Salinas, CA say THANK YOU!

Mr. Casper's 5th grade students from New Republic Elementary in Salinas, CA say THANK YOU!

O'Neill Sea Odyssey and our 96,371 Ocean Stewards are grateful for support from YOU and all of our generous donors. It is with your gifts, not just during the holiday season but all year long, that OSO is able to engage 4th-6th grade youth with a hands-on science field trip on a 65-foot catamaran on Monterey Bay and in a shore-side education center, in addition to science curriculum for the classroom. It's free, each class performs a community service project, and OSO also supports bus transportation.

Ms. Truong's 5th grade students from Castroville Elementary in Castroville, CA say THANK YOU!


After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the back-to-back days of deals, join us in kicking off the holiday giving season on Giving Tuesday! Here are a few ways to gear up in support of our Ocean Stewards...


Holiday Lighthouse Lighting
Thank you, Jim Jackson Rahn, for the use of your beautiful photo. www.facebook.com/jimjacksonrahnphotography

Thank you, Jim Jackson Rahn, for the use of your beautiful photo. www.facebook.com/jimjacksonrahnphotography

Please join O'Neill Sea Odyssey for the 6th Annual Holiday Lighthouse Lighting on Thursday, November 30, from 5:30-7:00PM. Come celebrate the season with food, libations, laughter and warmth, and help count down to the annual lighting of the Walton Lighthouse. The Crow's Nest restaurant will host a limited number of guests in their Harbor Room so don't delay. Make your reservation(s) today!


Thank you sponsors!

We're grateful for your support.

Crow's Nest

Lighthouse Bank

Pacific Gas & Electric

System Studies, Incorporated

Bill & Brigid Simpkins