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...

7 DAYS UNTIL

 
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

 
A Global Day of Giving
 
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OSO's Ocean Stewards say...

THANK YOU! 'Tis the season for giving and giving thanks.

The holiday season is just around the corner, and we invite you to kick it off with us on Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving back. On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, you'll have the chance to join people around the world and support O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Ocean Stewards.

This Giving Tuesday, help us give the gift of hands-on science education to Central California 4th-6th grade students. By joining the movement, you're providing nearly 100,000 lasting experiences that for many, may not exist otherwise.

Mark your calendars, spread the word, and stay tuned for more details!

14  DAYS  UNTIL

 
OSO Students Investigate Plankton
 
Copepods (meaning "oar-feet") are crustaceans found in nearly every water sample OSO students investigate.

Copepods (meaning "oar-feet") are crustaceans found in nearly every water sample OSO students investigate.

Following the on-board marine biology lesson and plankton tow, O'Neill Sea Odyssey students return to the shore-side learning center where their investigation of the bottom of the ocean food chain comes alive. It is here where the life in just a few drops of water is exposed and students are provided their first glimpse of both phytoplankton and zooplankton. Many students remark that their previous familiarity with these life forms are from the television show, SpongeBob Squarepants, and immediately recognize copepods as the character Plankton. As they continue to identify the various species, instructors lead discussions on the dependency by oceanic food webs on this energy source and the seasonal dynamics affecting their abundance due to weather, ocean currents and temperature, pH, and urban runoff.

Through this, and lessons in marine ecology and navigation, the OSO experience is helping to educate the next generation, like Darwin here, to be stewards of the ocean and environment.

 
 
Instructor Spotlight
 
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Abby Newman

"Finding solutions to restore, sustain, and manage these vital marine resources for current and future generations is my lifelong commitment to the very ecosystem on which our survival depends."

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

In September 2015, a friend and former OSO-lifer introduced me to Laura Walker, O'Neill Sea Odyssey’s Education Coordinator. Laura was easy to talk to and her passion for environmental education was palpable, which I soon discovered was true for the entire OSO team. This incredibly diverse network of instructors—who wear multiple hats as professional photographers, professors, and surf instructors—bring a wealth of experience and talents to the education program.

What drew me to the educator position was the opportunity to engage and motivate the next generation of youth—particularly young women—to pursue STEM careers. I am so fortunate to be a part of the OSO team, and believe that this hands-on, outdoor, and team-based program caters to every type of learner and exemplifies how science education should be taught nationwide. I only wish I was so lucky to have experienced this program growing up.

Working at O’Neill Sea Odyssey greatly influenced my decision to return to school, and find a graduate program that would enable me to become a more effective and powerful environmental advocate and educator. While I believe I was making a meaningful impact as a Sea Odyssey educator before going back to school, I couldn’t help but worry about the longevity of the planet and quality of life for these future environmental leaders. I felt it was my responsibility as a scientist, conservationist, and educator to gain a multi-disciplinary understanding of the economics, science, and marine policy that goes into enacting environmental change. With the credibility of an advanced degree, my hope is to eventually sit at the decision table and fight for these students and their futures.

As our marine sanctuaries and protected areas are under threat of oil and gas development, our cities vulnerable to sea level rise, and ocean warming and acidification forever changing the life history strategies of so many marine species, there is no better time to advocate for environmental education. We need to honor our scientists and educators, not commence war on facts and peer-reviewed science. I believe environmental education is a necessity if we are going to save the planet and our species.

What does the ocean mean to you?

The ocean is a vast and resilient life-support system that has, for too many generations, taken the brunt of our destructive human activities. As a once desert-dweller, I am humbled by the power and endurance of our oceans. The ocean connects and unifies us to the rest of the world. After receiving my master’s degree in June, I spent three months traveling in Baja, Mexico, Iceland, and various islands surrounding Bali. I was intrigued by how people interacted and treated their marine backyards, which varied considerably from one country (and sometimes region) to the next. Whether this ocean relationship was one of subsistence or commercial trade, I was reminded that what unites us in the end is not the language we speak or the music we listen to, but the direct and meaningful daily impact we have on our seas that—for better or worse—touches every corner of our planet. Finding solutions to restore, sustain, and manage these vital marine resources for current and future generations is my lifelong commitment to the very ecosystem on which our survival depends.

OSO Captain, Mike Egan, at the helm with Abby.

OSO Captain, Mike Egan, at the helm with Abby.

Thank you, Abby, for your dedication to protecting our ocean ecosystems and for being a role model to OSO's Ocean Stewards. We are grateful for your continued leadership and support.

 
Dear Friend and Supporter
 

This has truly been a unique year. The loss of our founder and inspiration, Jack O'Neill, was softened by the outpouring of love and support for him and his life's passion, O'Neill Sea Odyssey. Jack's desire was that the program live on.

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Jack O'Neill

"There's no doubt in my mind that the O'Neill Sea Odyssey is the best thing I've ever done."

From the bottom of our hearts we want to thank you for your support. We also ask you to consider making a year-end gift to O'Neill Sea Odyssey. Thanks to you, we recently served our 95,000th student with a living classroom on Monterey Bay to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.

In 2018, we will serve our milestone 100,000th student. Our 100,000th Student Campaign has been a remarkable way for our supporters to monitor and support our progress. You can follow the student experience here and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Your year-end gift will make a lasting impression on the next generation. Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,

Bridget O'Neill, Board of Directors' Chair

Dan Haifley, Executive Director

 
Intentions to Act
 
OSO Captain, Tim O'Neill, hoists drift-kelp from Monterey Bay entangled in boat line and balloon ribbon. (Photo: Colin Carney)

OSO Captain, Tim O'Neill, hoists drift-kelp from Monterey Bay entangled in boat line and balloon ribbon. (Photo: Colin Carney)

O'Neill Sea Odyssey students engage in hands-on science and mathematics discussions in an effort to better understand their connection to the natural world around them, including watersheds and marine ecosystems. Witnessing threats such as ocean pollution encourages discussions on human impacts and the need for conservation. Above all, the program experience and first-hand observations of wildlife is a special opportunity for our students who, for many, this is their first time on a boat on the ocean.

Following the program, this new or increased knowledge often motivates OSO students to share their appreciation through words and art. The wonderful drawings and personal statements represent attitudes and changed behaviors intended to help protect and preserve our environment and ocean habitat. These expressions of "intentions to act" were, in fact, recognized in the San Jose State University Masters research findings of a long-term impact study by OSO Instructor, Lauren Hanneman.

 

We are grateful to our Bradley Elementary students and all O'Neill Sea Odyssey Ocean Stewards for committing to act. Keep it up!

 
 
Alumna Spotlight
 
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Felicia Van Stolk

"Environmental education is so important because it connects students in the most natural way that they learn. Being immersed in nature allows their instinctual sense of wonder to take over, and curiosity drives the deepest kind of learning."

We've asked Felicia Van Stolk, one of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's past students, to share her thoughts about her experience with, and path beyond, the OSO program. Here's what she had to say...

I’m the Education Manager at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History today, but I attended the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program as a 5th grader at Valencia Elementary School. My classmates and I all thought it was so cool that our teacher, Patricia O’Neal, had the same name, even though it was spelled differently. While I don’t remember specific details of the program and curriculum, I do remember being on the catamaran and how exhilarating it was! Looking back on that experience now, OSO was certainly an influence in my path to studying marine biology and eventually applying my love of science and nature (especially the ocean) to environmental education.

As a student at UCLA, I majored in biology but managed to fulfill all of my requirements by taking marine science courses—at some point it became clear that I should just change my major to marine science. Throughout my years as an undergrad, I also helped instruct SCUBA classes where, for the first time, I was able to combine my love of the ocean with teaching.

That passion continued after college when I started teaching at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City. That’s when it suddenly clicked and I remembered participating in a similar program before (OSO). When I was enjoying the Sea Odyssey program I wasn’t aware that what I was learning was “environmental education”—it only occurred to me now as an educator myself.

At the Museum, I’m the go-to “ocean person” and I love taking care of our tide pool exhibit and leading beach cleanups. In this context, it is fun to connect the land to the sea and approach teaching about natural history in a holistic way, tying all ecosystems together.  

Environmental education is so important because it connects students in the most natural way that they learn. Being immersed in nature allows their instinctual sense of wonder to take over, and curiosity drives the deepest kind of learning. All types of learners can benefit from environmental education because it is so student-driven, and students who may not thrive in traditional classrooms can find things to connect to in the natural world.

I'm so happy that the new standards now emphasize how to think over a list of topics and vocabulary words. While the standards and trends in education are shifting to embrace that style of teaching now, environmental education programs like O'Neill Sea Odyssey have been doing this from the very beginning—facilitating exploration and allowing students to wonder about what they’re experiencing. We also know, anecdotally and by facilitating projects or keeping track of past students, that when a person loves even one thing in the natural world, they are more likely to continue to be curious about it and be willing to take action toward conserving it.

 
What does the ocean mean to you?

The ocean has always been a special place to me, and it means so many things in my life. It has been the meeting place for family and friends with so many cherished memories on the shore. It is also where I go to think—when I am sad or facing some challenge, it puts things into perspective and has a cleansing effect. As a diver, I feel just as much at home underwater as I do on shore. These are all things that many people who live on the shore may feel. Knowing how things work in the marine environment, recognizing animals and their behavior, being able to read the water, all of the things I learned by studying the sea has only served to deepen my connection and I am so gratified by this intimacy with the ocean.

Felicia, with her favorite teaching partner, a live leopard shark, at the Marine Science Institute.

Felicia, with her favorite teaching partner, a live leopard shark, at the Marine Science Institute.

 

Thank you, Felicia, for sharing your experience and unique perspective. Your role as an environmental educator is a testament to your commitment to conservation. We're grateful for your support and dedication.