Santa Cruz Farmers' Market Fun
 
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Today at the Westside Farmers' Market, O'Neill Sea Odyssey provided campaign information and 100% recycled cotton produce bags to attendees who shared their thoughts about what the ocean means to them. "Happiness" and smiles were in the air despite the overcast skies and cooler summertime temperature. We are grateful to all who took time to stop at our table to participate with a photo and we hope you enjoy your new tote. A special thanks also, to those who made a donation in honor of our 100,000th student.

What does the ocean mean to you?

 
We are water. Going into the ocean is going into the womb of mother earth.
— Market participant
Adam Steckley
Donor Spotlight
 

Tom & Judy Webster

"The vision of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Adam Webster Memorial Fund is to provide a successful, but not purely intellectual or academic, learning experience for individuals with special needs in the context of the ocean environment."

We've asked Tom and Judy Webster, co-founders of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Adam Webster Memorial Fund, to share their thoughts about their unique connection to, and history with, the OSO program. Here's what they had to say...

Our oldest son, Adam, was born severely disabled with cerebral palsy in addition to being blind and requiring total care. During his lifetime, we tried to find ways to have him experience as many things as possible, that others take for granted. One of the things he especially loved was when we would go sailing on the ocean or in San Francisco Bay. Although he couldn't see, just the movement of the boat, the sounds of the ocean and the breeze on his face brought him great joy. The rougher the ride, the more Adam would laugh!

Consequently, when he passed away in 1999, we wanted to share this life experience and Adam's excitement about sailing with as many severely challenged youth as we could. We did this for two reasons. To begin with, we knew through experience that the more severe the disabilities, the fewer the programs there are available. We saw that many governmental agencies were experiencing severe cutbacks in their funding causing programs for severely disabled youth to cease to exist. Finally, we wanted to bring the same joy that Adam experienced to other children with limited physical and mental abilities. Searching for a provider/partner for our Adam Webster Memorial Fund, we found the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program and contacted them to see if they would be interested in helping us develop and provide such an experience. They felt that it fit in perfectly with their motto and were excited to work with us on developing such a curriculum. Since then, we have worked to provide and raise funds to enable severely disabled children to take advantage of the “hands on” educational experience that is provided by O’Neill Sea Odyssey. The program, conducted on-board the Team O’Neill catamaran, teaches youngsters (depending on their abilities) safety on the water, navigation techniques, marine life and habitats, and the unique balance that helps maintain life in the sea.

The vision of O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s Adam Webster Memorial Fund is to provide a successful, but not purely intellectual or academic, learning experience for individuals with special needs in the context of the ocean environment. There won’t necessarily always be an academic curriculum, but there will always be a plan. A plan to open the doors of life and living closed by physical, social, intellectual, and emotional barriers.

We know that special needs individuals may benefit from learning about navigation, but perhaps just as much from feeling the rolling motion of the ocean as the wave movement stimulates a body and a sensory system that has been immobile and confined to a wheelchair for years. It is never known what new experience will create a new learning opportunity, intellectual or social milestone in the special need individual’s journey toward opening the next door. A door through which lies development and fulfillment in a life limited in many ways.

Our friends, the dolphins, know it. In open water they often swim with, and ahead of these individuals almost as if they are leading them to new adventures and protecting them on their journey. We should, too. That is our vision, and that is what OSO has helped us accomplish all these years, and continues to do so. That is why we continue to support OSO.

Since 1999, O’Neill Sea Odyssey has helped the Adam Webster Memorial Fund fulfill this mission. $150,000 have been raised to enable OSO to serve 700 seriously cognitive and physically challenged individuals, and in 2009, the Special Parents Information Network (SPIN) recognized the Adam Webster Memorial Fund with their Community Spinners Lucky 8 Award for its outstanding “recreational program” service to special needs children and their families.

A personal video message from Tom and Judy Webster.

 

Special thanks to Joyce Anderson Productions and Mr. Yamal Duryea for their video expertise and continued program support.

 
 
What does the ocean mean to you?

We believe that the ocean supports mankind's physical, social and emotional well-being in a myriad of ways. It is a source of beauty, sustenance, raw energy and a window into our future like no other. We need to enjoy it, use it, and also protect it for current and future generations.

Betty Webster with grandson, Adam

Betty Webster with grandson, Adam

Thank you, Tom and Judy, for your nearly 20 years of support and dedication to providing such an invaluable experience. O'Neill Sea Odyssey couldn't do it without you.

Please join the Websters and other Fund supporters on August 31, 2017, from 5-7 PM, for a reception at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. Enjoy complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres, and an update on the success and future plans for the program. Admission is free but we request that guests RSVP to Dan Haifley, dhaifley@oneillseaodyssey.org, by August 24.

 

 
Adam Webster Memorial Fund
 
Adam Webster

Adam Webster

 
 

Since 1999, O'Neill Sea Odyssey has served 700 youth with special needs through the Adam Webster Memorial Fund. Co-founded by Tom and Judy Webster in memory of their son, the fund celebrates the unique and stimulating experience the ocean provided Adam while sailing, and provides this to other individuals with special needs through OSO's program. In 2009, the Special Parents Information Network (SPIN), a non-profit organization that assists the families of, and care providers for, special needs children, recognized the Adam Webster Memorial Fund for its achievements and awarded Tom and Judy with its “Community Spinners Lucky 8 Award." The Websters also received resolutions from US Representative Sam Farr, State Senator Joe Simitian, and a joint resolution from Assemblymembers Anna Cabarello and Bill Monning.

 
With Tom & Judy Webster (center) are (left to right):  Superior Court Judge candidate John Gallagher, SPIN Executive Director Cece Pinheiro, SPIN Board Chair Ken Kulpa, Maureen McCarty of State Senator Joe Simitian's office, and State Assemblymember Bill Monning.

With Tom & Judy Webster (center) are (left to right):  Superior Court Judge candidate John Gallagher, SPIN Executive Director Cece Pinheiro, SPIN Board Chair Ken Kulpa, Maureen McCarty of State Senator Joe Simitian's office, and State Assemblymember Bill Monning.

Our classroom is full of students who have very special gifts. These gifts are mostly present in their smiles. Their faces tell the story and their story brightens every heart that comes close.
— Tom Simpkins, Special Education Teacher, Scotts Valley
 

Santa Cruz County Office of Education class aboard the Team O'Neill catamaran, with a follow-up lesson in marine biology. Support provided by the Adam Webster Memorial Fund and film produced by Julie Pollack.

 
 
 
 
 

Please join O'Neill Sea Odyssey on August 31, 2017, from 5-7 PM, for our Adam Webster Memorial Fund reception at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. Enjoy complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres, and an update on the success and future plans for the program. Admission is free but we request that guests RSVP to Dan Haifley, dhaifley@oneillseaodyssey.org, by August 24.

 
Adam Steckley
Celebrate "Get Into Your Sanctuary" Day
 
California sea lions

California sea lions

“As a travel destination, few places on the planet can compete with the diversity of the National Marine Sanctuary System, which protects America's most iconic natural and cultural marine resources. The majority of national marine sanctuaries' waters are open to compatible recreational activities which also allows for considerable benefits to local economies.

On August 12, 2017, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting its third National ‘Get into Your Sanctuary’ celebration. This system-wide event will raise awareness about the value of our sanctuaries as iconic destinations for responsible recreation through a series of special activities.

This week, join us on social media in highlighting the types of recreational activities that can be enjoyed by visitors, along with tips for practicing good Ocean Etiquette. We are also holding a photo contest to provide audiences an opportunity to share their sanctuary experiences. This is a great occasion to showcase our partner organizations that bring people to safely and sustainably watch wildlife and help visitors dive, surf, fish, snorkel, paddle, swim, photograph, and enjoy the sea breezes of our nation's most special Great Lakes and ocean places!”

 - NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

Boundaries of Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, plus the 2008 Davidson Seamount addition to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Image credit:  NOAA

Boundaries of Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, plus the 2008 Davidson Seamount addition to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Image credit:  NOAA

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the setting for O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s living classroom on-board the 65-foot Team O’Neill catamaran. Here 4th-6th grade students receive hands-on lessons in marine biology, kelp forest ecology, and navigation to better understand the importance of the relationship between the living sea and the environment. Each program provides students the opportunity to "get into their sanctuary" to experience first-hand the Monterey Bay’s marine life and habitats. (Photos courtesy of Jasper Lyons and Nikki Brooks.)

 
Instructor Spotlight
 

Nikki Brooks

"The O’Neill Sea Odyssey program is an extension of who I am, what this tight knit ocean community is all about, and is my way of giving back for all I have received."

We’ve asked Nikki Brooks, one of O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s long-time instructors, to share her thoughts about her unique connection to, and teaching experience with, the OSO program. Here’s what she had to say…

I have worked as an O'Neill Sea Odyssey instructor for 15 years and have seen thousands of children participate and benefit from this educational and adventurous program. The excitement, wonder, and pure joy that the kids exude is sincere and our community and the Central Coast is so fortunate to have such a resource. It is rewarding to share a passion of mine, ocean conservation and learning about marine life, with these students. The program leaves an everlasting impression on them, a wake resulting in ocean stewards.

I first boarded the Team O’Neill catamaran for a sailing adventure as a Capitola Junior Lifeguard in the 90’s. After receiving my BS in Biology from UC San Diego, I worked as crew on a boat in Lahaina, Maui, as part of a humpback whale photo identification project, and upon returning to Santa Cruz in 2002, I became an instructor for O’Neill Sea Odyssey. I was able to apply my studies as a marine biologist and my love for the ocean in a part time, seasonal position. For a brief time between 2005 and 2007, I resigned from instructing to enjoy time with my baby daughters, but I knew I would always return to the program. For me, being a part of the O’Neill Sea Odyssey family has enabled me to pursue a lifestyle of being in rhythm with the ocean. As a 3rd generation Santa Cruz surfer (my daughters are 4th generation surfers), I have spent the past 15 seasons alternating between surf photography, surfing and working on the O’Cat. I feel very fortunate to work for Jack O’Neill’s passion project, as Captain O’Neill is someone I deeply respect for his pursuit to live a life surrounded by the ocean and making it his mission to give back. The O’Neill Sea Odyssey program is an extension of who I am, what this tight knit ocean community is all about, and is my way of giving back for all I have received.

Just as the path of the fish is not planar, nor does our life path need be. We may not live in a fluid environment, but our lives are in constant flux. If we choose to follow our passions and interests, we will come across other like-minded people. Collaboration between people fueled by a common thread creates a web. The web is a community that can accomplish many great things. I think of my connection to the OSO program as a part of a web, and we all have a role to fill to support our community by conserving our resources and protecting our ocean ecosystem. Strengthening this web by educating our youth about ocean conservation fuels a passion and a love in them for the ocean, ultimately creating stewards that will protect and care for the ocean for generations to come. It is a symbiotic relationship we have with the sea, for as much as she gives us, we need to give back. O'Neill Sea Odyssey is as excellent forum to achieve this and it is my pleasure to be a part of this organization.

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

 
What does the ocean mean to you?

The ocean is the source of my inspiration as a photographer, its mysteries and ever changing beauty entice me. The ocean is rejuvenating for my body and soul and cleansing for my mind and provides us with vital nutrients and oxygen. The ocean is an outlet for my energy and where I seek my thrills as a surfer/swimmer/paddler/sailor. The ocean has bonded me to my surfing family both immediate and worldwide. As ocean stewards, we must be willing to make sacrifices on nature’s behalf since we cannot thrive if our ocean is not cared for.

Present day waterman, Kai Lenny, at Mavericks on a day when all the elements lined up producing epic conditions. Photo courtesy of Nikki Brooks

Present day waterman, Kai Lenny, at Mavericks on a day when all the elements lined up producing epic conditions. Photo courtesy of Nikki Brooks

Thank you, Nikki, for your dedication over the last decade and a half, and for being a role model to OSO's Ocean Stewards and our greater ocean community. We are grateful for your continued mentorship, photography, and support.

Nikki Brooks Photography

 
Adam Steckley
Community Service Spotlight
 
Twin Lakes State Beach cleanup

Twin Lakes State Beach cleanup

One of the primary purposes of O’Neill Sea Odyssey is to foster awareness of environmental stewardship and personal responsibility among program participants. This is done by delivering an interactive curriculum that emphasizes the connections between land and sea, and as it is a free program, each participating group is required to complete a service project to earn their trip.

Community service is an integral component of the OSO stewardship model, and we are proud of the work our students have accomplished over the years. To-date, more than 3,000 service projects have been completed, often benefiting a number of our Monterey Bay non-profit organizations.

 

In June, Nueva Vista Community Resources and The Spot Camp each conducted a beach cleanup at Seabright State Beach and Twin Lakes State Beach, respectively, in partnership with Save Our Shores (SOS). Accompanied by OSO Media Interns, Jasper and Sophie, students were split into teams and instructed to fill out Marine Debris Data cards to track the type and quantity of trash they found. At the end of the activity, trash was separated from recyclable materials and weighed.

Combined, the two student groups collected and removed a total of 17 pounds of trash and 2 1/2 pounds of recyclables and these results were entered into the SOS Cleanup Database where their data can be used to inform public policy and coastal management decisions. How about them apples? Following the cleanups, the groups then discussed different ways to reduce the amount of waste that was found, and steps they could take to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic items at home.

Through it all, the students were happy and eager to learn more about the marine environment and build off the information they learned aboard the Team O'Neill catamaran and in the Sea Odyssey classrooms. They were quick to make connections while working with Save Our Shores and impressed to hear how many individual pieces of trash they found.

Special thanks to the City of Santa Cruz who provided Measure E funding to support this coordinated effort between O'Neill Sea Odyssey and Save Our Shores. In all, seven Measure E classes were served, totaling 170 students. (Photos courtesy of Jasper Lyons and Sophie Holin)

In February, Castroville Elementary School conducted a restoration at Moss Landing State Beach in partnership with Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Kathy Truong's and Julio Alfaro's 5th grade students removed over 200 square feet (four heaping piles) of invasive ice plant to clear the landscape for native plant species and re-establish habitat for wildlife.

Special thanks to The David & Lucile Packard Foundation who provided funding to support Miss Truong's group of 30 students on the Sea Odyssey program, along with the more than 20 other classes served, totaling 635 students. (Photos courtesy of Kathy Truong)

Through the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program, and in conjunction with the various organizations, these Ocean Stewards have enjoyed the beauty and wonder that our coastal marine environment provides while learning to respect and preserve it. On behalf of OSO and the entire Monterey Bay community, we thank them for their efforts, and we thank you for your continued support.

 
Adam Steckley
Winners of the 2016-2017 Ocean Steward Art Contest
 
Grand Prize Winner:  Save The Marine Life, by Yoltzin Delgado

Grand Prize Winner:  Save The Marine Life, by Yoltzin Delgado

O’Neill Sea Odyssey (OSO) and its Board of Directors are proud to announce the winners of the 2016-2017 Ocean Steward Art Contest. Yoltzin Delgado (grade 4), of Boulder Creek Elementary in Boulder Creek, CA, is the grand prize winner. Her watercolor and marker artwork titled, "Save the Marine Life," depicts an underwater world of distinctly contrasting views - the direct result of human impact. On one side, we witness the dark and detrimental harm of ocean pollution from both point and non-point sources, as well as a large-scale fishing trawler harvesting from the ocean food chain. On the other side, however, the marine life is thriving in a bright and healthy ecosystem while beach goers remove trash at sunset near wind turbines creating alternative energy. Conveyed beautifully, Yoltzin shows how individual choices and behaviors lead to very different environmental outcomes. As this year's Ocean Steward Art Contest winner, she and her teacher, Reilly McCoy, will each receive family passes for a one-hour public sail aboard the Team O’Neill catamaran.

In honor of Yoltzin Delgado and her award winning piece, O’Neill Sea Odyssey will present an enlarged mounted copy of the artwork to both Boulder Creek Elementary and Leslie & Troy Daniels, who provided funding for Miss McCoy’s class. Three of the four honorable mention winners include Amber Boothby (grade 6) of Scotts Valley Middle School in Scotts Valley, CA, and Maverick Meuller (grade 5) and Nicole Perez (grade 5) of King City Arts Magnet in King City, CA. These five students will all receive accolades as O'Neill Sea Odyssey Ocean Stewards and their artwork will be exhibited in the OSO classrooms. Congratulations to all!

About the Ocean Steward Art Contest

The Ocean Steward Art Contest is an opportunity for students in grades 4-6, who have participated in the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program, to creatively interpret the watershed, marine and/or stewardship themes learned while attending OSO. The contest is held annually and encourages students to further consider the lessons and experiences of the program. Additionally, it is an opportunity for OSO and its Board of Directors to connect with, recognize, and award the stewardship efforts of the students, teachers, schools and communities. You can read more about these efforts happening at King City Arts Magnet in our blog post from May 26 and view the artwork of all our past contest winners here.

 
Creating art is a powerful means of communicating behaviors and emotions regardless of cultural and/or socio-economic background.
— Adam Steckley
Adam Steckley
Jack O'Neill World Memorial Paddle Out
 

Image credit:  Howard "Boots" McGhee

"Conversations with Jack were an adventure. I don't think I'll ever know anybody with that level of intellect and that level of joy in conversation, and wanting to understand the world and do better for the world.

It wasn't just the paddle out in Santa Cruz. It was the paddle outs that occurred around the world. He was a worldwide figure. He was an ocean leader. He was a business leader. And that is what happened today. People paid honor to him, they appreciated him, and they felt the love that he felt for them."

- Dan Haifley