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