"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.
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.