Instructor Spotlight

Sarah Langley

"The OSO lessons are both engaging and incredibly hands-on while also delivering a deep conservation message."

We've asked Sarah Langley, one of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's past 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 started teaching for O’Neill Sea Odyssey after I returned home to Santa Cruz from the East Coast where I was working in environmental education. While in Florida and Maine, I developed a deep passion for the ocean and educating kids on how to protect it. I interned at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida where I was responsible for everything from cleaning huge saltwater tanks and feeding animals like alligators and loggerhead sea turtles to educating the public about their native Everglades wildlife. In Maine, I was a marine science instructor at Acadia Institute of Oceanography in Acadia National Park where I further developed my love for educating students about the ocean.

While living on the East Coast and building my passion for marine conservation education however, I came to the realization that Santa Cruz was one of the best places to educate kids about the ocean given Monterey Bay’s amazing biodiversity. This motivated me to return home to my family where I began volunteering at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center as a docent guide. Through the Center, I then connected with O’Neill Sea Odyssey and simultaneously became an instructor of kelp forest ecology and marine biology. During this time, I was living the best of both worlds - I learned all about Monterey Bay and its unique biodiversity through my training at the Seymour Center, while delivering this knowledge to the students that I taught at OSO. I loved being both a learner and a teacher and built such a huge foundation of love and respect for the Bay that will last forever.

My experience with O’Neill Sea Odyssey has influenced my career choices leading to where I am today. While working at OSO I learned two major things about myself – how much I love the ocean and my desire to educate as many kids as I can so they can both understand and respect it. These were the main reasons that I eventually decided to build a career in formal education where I became both a biology teacher and now, a science curriculum manager.

At O'Neill Sea Odyssey, and prior to my time there, my experiences mainly involved teaching smaller groups of students. Usually these students would travel from local schools or nearby organizations where the teacher or leader would organize a visit with a class or select group of kids. Although this was a perfect starting place to develop my passion for marine conservation education, I knew that I wanted to reach more students through formal education. That way I could more consistently and deliberately deliver the educational messages that I was so passionate about given that I would see a larger set of students every day for a longer period of time. I was also motivated by the opportunity of building lasting relationships with students that was available in formal education. It was because of these reasons that I earned my teaching credential and Master’s in education at UCSC shortly after my part-time work as an OSO instructor.

While teaching students aboard the Team O’Neill catamaran and seeing their reactions to all the cool hands-on experiences we provided, I was also inspired by OSO’s curriculum. The lessons are both engaging and incredibly hands-on while also delivering a deep conservation message. I felt it had a perfect balance of educating students to first understand our ocean, then provide a place where they could step back and better acknowledge the need to protect it after learning about human impact. Working at OSO motivated me to think about a future where I could possibly build and implement such a strong conservation-based curriculum within formal education. Now, as a science curriculum manager for Summit Public Schools, I often think of OSO’s curriculum as a model example for how schools can better instill conservation messages into the curriculum that teachers use.

From plastics to climate change, humans are responsible for a lot of the changes that we see happening on our planet. In order for people to truly understand our impact, they need to first understand and build respect for the natural world around them. A great way of doing that is by reaching kids while they’re young to help them develop an understanding of the local environment around them. This is why environmental education is so critically important, especially within the younger grades. After students have built a solid understanding of their surroundings, they can then better connect their actions with the larger world around them. And, hopefully, their feelings of appreciation and respect will lead to a desire to want to protect it for years to come.


In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.
— Baba Dioum, 1968
What does the ocean mean to you?

When I think of the ocean, I think of where I grew up on Monterey Bay. So to me the ocean means love, home, and biodiversity.

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Thank you, Sarah, for your commitment to helping others better understand the natural world around them. We're grateful for the time you invested with O'Neill Sea Odyssey and in our students.

Adam Steckley
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary 25th Anniversary

"September 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! The sanctuary was formally established under the authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, becoming the eleventh national marine sanctuary. Congress designated Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary — known as the 'Serengeti of the Sea' — for its biological richness, unique habitats, threatened and endangered animals, and the presence of shipwrecks and other cultural relics. Establishment of the sanctuary followed decades of public support for its creation – our community joining together to demand protection of this special place. In celebration of this quarter century milestone, we invite you to help us celebrate the incredible importance and value that the sanctuary represents to our community."

- NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries


"Saving Our Shores, Creating Sanctuary"


As the Trump Administration reviews the status of recent national monument designations, Dan Haifley, Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, will give a talk on the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the decades long campaign to prevent offshore oil along the California central coast. Sponsored by the Democratic Women's Club of Santa Cruz County, this is a free event and the public is welcome.


Saturday, September 23, 2017, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Santa Cruz Police Department Community Room, 155 Center Street, Santa Cruz, CA

"Movie Night on the Beach"

FREE Community Celebration in Monterey, CA


"The health of our ocean and coasts are vital to our Monterey Peninsula community. In celebration of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's 25th anniversary in ocean protection, we invite the community to a free 'Movie Night on the Beach'. The evening will feature Disney Nature's 'Oceans' taking place on Del Monte Beach. This family-friendly event will reveal the wonders of the sea with incredible underwater wildlife imagery and conservation themes that will leave viewers inspired to help protect our ocean planet. Free popcorn for participants!

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Del Monte Beach, next to Wharf 2, Monterey, CA

This event is being held in partnership with Monterey Beach SportsFest, where sanctuary staff will be in attendance with information about ocean research, education, and protection. The films will proceed a day of friendly sport competitions on the beach."

- NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

"The Monterey Beach SportsFest is an event like no other on the shores of the Central Coast this September 23 and 24. The Monterey Beach SportsFest is a celebration of Healthy People, Healthy Oceans, bringing together a series of ocean focused conservation and educational resources and a variety of athletic disciplines. There a multitude of free outdoor activities ranging from yoga, Zumba to kids sand castle team building and live musical entertainment. In celebration of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s 25th Anniversary, there will be a 'Free' 450 yard community swim and movie night on the beach.

From beach volleyball to cold-water swim competitions, SUP/Prone paddling, Kayak racing, and a unique multisport event called the Ikaika Challenge which combines swimming, strength activities and beach running, there is competition for teams and individuals during the two-day event held at Del Monte Beach in downtown Monterey. There will a tire flipping, pull-up and push-up contest for the 'Fittest on the Beach'!

The Monterey Beach SportsFest will be providing a 'Day at the Beach' for 200-300 children from Salinas, Marina, and Seaside, as well as, the public. The goal is to promote Healthy People, Healthy Oceans and Healthy Communities. We want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to participate in a positive and life changing experience. With the help of our student volunteers from CSUMB, we hope to provide positive role models to become good stewards of the community."

- Monterey Beach SportsFest

California Coastal Cleanup Day

"California Coastal Cleanup Day welcomes more than 60,000 volunteers who will pick up hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash and recyclables from beaches, lakes, and waterways each year. It brings awareness to the marine litter problem and provides a community event for direct involvement. Help by joining in the fight to preserve wildlife by taking trash out of the environment. Volunteer alongside your families, friends, coworkers, scout troops, school groups, and service clubs. Plan to spend a day outside connecting with your community to celebrate California!

The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy. California Coastal Cleanup Day is the largest volunteer event in the US and International Coastal Cleanup Day is the largest volunteer event on the planet!"

- California Coastal Commission

"Here along California’s Central Coast, Save Our Shores organizes 85 beach, river and inland cleanup sites. The success of Coastal Cleanup Day is determined by you! The more helping hands, the more pollution that's prevented from entering our beautiful ocean and endangering marine wildlife. Last year, our community of 3,148 volunteers managed to remove 10.5 tons of pollution from our shores.

Cleanup supplies are first come first serve. Participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable cleanup supplies to help reduce waste. For river cleanups, closed-toed shoes, rubber boots and heavy-duty gloves are recommended to help keep you clean and dry. Other important items to bring are your own water in a reusable bottle, sunscreen, a pre-signed safety wavier, a few friends and a BIG smile!"

- Save Our Shores

"Surfrider Foundation chapters engage and motivate their communities to take action at local beach cleanups. The cumulative result is not only a cleaner and healthier coastline but also a raised consciousness for accessible actions people can integrate into their lives to promote healthy beaches on a daily basis.

Some of the top five most commonly collected items on ICCD last year were cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws, respectively. All are forms of plastic debris. The very qualities that make plastic an adaptable and durable product to use, also make it an environmental nightmare. Plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they break down with exposure to weather and the sun’s ultraviolet rays into smaller and smaller pieces. When these pieces infiltrate the environment, especially marine environments, they wreak havoc on wildlife and the ecosystem."

- Surfrider Foundation


We are grateful to these, and all, coordinating organizations and volunteers for their time and effort.

Thank you!

First Day of Sea Odyssey Classes
Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

To kick off O'Neill Sea Odyssey's 2017-2018 school year, two 5th grade classes from Von Renner Elementary traveled from their Newman, CA campus, nearly 100 miles away, to spend the day on Monterey Bay. Despite their early morning departure, the students, teachers, and chaperones arrived in good spirits and excited for the days adventure. For all 52 students, this was their first time participating with O'Neill Sea Odyssey and as their teacher, Miriam Rempel, pointed out, "This is the first time most have been on the ocean." Together with teacher, Mary Beth Roe, the Sea Odyssey lessons and hands-on experience will be used to build on their marine ecology program throughout the year.

Under the overcast afternoon sky, Miss Roe's class was accompanied by a special guest alongside OSO Executive Director, Dan Haifley. Following along with the Bottlenose Dolphin group in their on-board navigation lesson, Santa Cruz Harbor Port Director, Marian Olin, took to the helm for a chance to steer the Team O'Neill catamaran. If only she would have taken us to Hawaii!

OSO Captain, Tim O'Neill, with Santa Cruz Harbor Port Director, Marian Olin

OSO Captain, Tim O'Neill, with Santa Cruz Harbor Port Director, Marian Olin

Thank you, Director Olin, for joining our Von Renner class on the bay, as well as, participating in the marine biology classroom lesson to observe the students' plankton sample. We're grateful for your support and dedication.

Santa Cruz New Blue Tech MeetUp

O'Neill Sea Odyssey enjoyed tabling at Hotel Paradox yesterday evening to provide campaign information to, and network with, the many attendees for this month's Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp themed BLUE TECH: water and marine technologies. The line-up of presentations was indeed inspiring. We wish to thank Doug Erickson and his SCNT MeetUp Team for inviting us to participate, as well as, the folks who took time to learn more about OSO and our 100,000th Student Campaign.

Blue Tech presenters:

  • Deb Radcliff, West Marine's BlueFuture, presented on West Marine's grants for non-profit organizations dedicated to youth water-life recreation and education. O'Neill Sea Odyssey is a proud recipient of BlueFuture funding.
  • Gary Griggs, Institute of Marine Sciences at UCSC, provided a short introduction to Monterey Bay and how the combination of a unique, nearly pristine and mostly protected oceanographic environment has attracted a large and diverse group of academic, educational and research institutions that have made the region a global center for marine research and education.
  • Moderated by Toby Corey, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols discussed his research combining marine biology with neuroscience to explain why living near water makes us happier and healthier. Dr. J. Nichols is author of the NY Times Best Seller, Blue Mind.
Thank you, J, for the blue marble!

Thank you, J, for the blue marble!

  • Christine Spiten, Blueye Robotics, and her team traveled all the way from Norway to share Pioneer: the next generation ocean drone.
  • Keri Waters, Buoy Labs, helped us better understand the importance of water conservation in our homes.
  • Craig Jones, Integral Consulting, presented on state-of-the-art ocean measurement technologies.
  • David Dennis, Ventana Surfboards & Supplies, showcased how Ventana has married traditional wooden surfboard craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology to drive their success.
  • John Jefferies, Clean Oceans International, updated us on cutting edge practical solutions for plastic solutions.
Teacher Spotlight

Debra Mallard

"This, my 7th year bringing students, will mark over 200 10- and 11-year-olds I've personally witnessed become forever changed by the O'Neill Sea Odyssey voyage."

We've asked Debra Mallard, 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...

Monterey Bay. From the land it is beautiful, but from the sea, gazing back to the shore, it is a totally new perspective, one of mountains melting into the Pacific Ocean's frigid blue waters. For so many of us, it might be a sight we take for granted, but for my 30-34 students, this view is so much more.

My own connection with the ocean is Wordsworthian. The ocean has always been my place of peace. This mysterious vast mass beyond the sand has held wonder and beauty since I was a kid traveling to Laguna Beach. The enormity of the world below the surface offers deep perspective in life. As a teacher for over twenty years, I seek to bring that feeling to my students. As part of my job, I teach my students to be good citizens of the earth. I feel Jack O'Neill has personally helped me achieve that goal via his legacy of the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program. It is a way to educate and influence children to be stewards of the ocean. What I appreciate most is that Jack and the Sea Odyssey team cater to all students, from all backgrounds, knowing each must learn to respect the environment.


For the last six years, I've been fortunate to be a part of the OSO program as a 5th grade teacher at Radcliff and Ann Soldo Elementaries in Watsonville, CA. I've experienced this wonderful trip through the eyes of students who come from very low-income homes. For my students, their experiences in life may be limited due to economics. In fact, for 85% to 90% of my students, this trip is the very first time they have set foot on a boat. Their excitement is palpable. Though they live just 18 miles from the Santa Cruz Harbor, it may as well be a thousand miles away. But through the gift of this field trip, a whole new world opens to my students.

This, my 7th year bringing students, will mark over 200 10- and 11-year-olds I've personally witnessed become forever changed by the O'Neill Sea Odyssey voyage. Were it not for the generous donors, the cost of this adventure, along with the cost of a bus, would be unattainable. Though the scenery is gorgeous, I find myself concentrating on my students' faces as they light up while they lie on the catamaran netting and bounce over the swells. I see the ocean's power, its blossoming life, its perpetual resilience, and I know the ocean spray leaves lasting gifts in each of their hearts and minds.


Thank you, Debra, for sharing your experience and your photographs. We are grateful and you're right, their excitement is palpable.

94,281 Students and Counting
Jack O'Neill at the helm with a Sea Odyssey student. (circa 2000)

Jack O'Neill at the helm with a Sea Odyssey student. (circa 2000)

As summer winds down and school opens to welcome the return of students and teachers, we too, are gearing up for a season of programs here at the Santa Cruz Harbor. Indeed this will be an exciting year as we anticipate serving our 100,000th student in June 2018. We hope you'll join us by supporting our campaign today to honor all O'Neill Sea Odyssey students who have shared in this unique learning experience on Monterey Bay and ensure that OSO continues its mission of providing free, hands-on science education. Together, we can celebrate our milestone student and help create the next generation of ocean stewards.

There are many different ways to support our 100,000th Student Campaign.


You can also support our Ocean Stewards by joining us at one of these upcoming community events.


Thank you for your support!

Adam Steckley
Santa Cruz Farmers' Market Fun

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