Instructor Spotlight

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Marina Maze

"Showing kids the wonder of the outdoors is so vital for the health of our communities and the environment."

We’ve asked Marina Maze, one of O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s previous students and 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….

My first experience with O'Neill Sea Odyssey was as a 5th grader in 1997 and I can remember looking down at the beautiful green water from the net and sitting on the cabin floor of the catamaran learning about navigation. That was one of my first experiences on a large boat on the ocean, and the experience was exhilarating. I soon came to love the feeling of being near and on the water. Growing up in Boulder Creek, my family beach days were spent at nearby Greyhound Rock, a beautiful, remote and pristine beach that offered hours of endless entertainment. I will admit, as a kid I was always a bit fearful (terrified really) of how powerful the ocean was. But my excitement, curiosity, and appreciation for the ocean did not falter. These experiences have since rooted themselves in my being, and have acted as my internal compass as I make my way through the world.

As a Marine Biology student at UC Santa Cruz, I was introduced to the fascinating, and utterly overwhelming, world of plastic pollution in the ocean. I began volunteering at Save Our Shores, where I became mesmerized by our addiction to single-use plastics and totally shocked at how this addiction was impacting our oceans. I was hooked, some might even say obsessed, and I found the most rewarding and impactful way to contribute to the solution was through educating the next generation.

Enter O’Neill Sea Odyssey, my dream job. Becoming a member of the OSO team has been one of the best, most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only is it a vividly rich educational experience for the students, but we are also providing a wildly exciting, life-changing opportunity for the kids we teach. Observing the students crawl on the net and listening to them talk to one another about how fun, exciting or cool the boat is, fills my heart with joy, and in some cases, my eyes with tears. There is no better reward for a hard days work than seeing a student’s eyes light up, and know that this experience is going to integrate itself into their internal compass as well.

Providing enriching outdoor educational experiences to children is so important, especially as our society becomes increasingly preoccupied by gadgets, tablets, computers, and iPhones. Showing kids the wonder of the outdoors is so vital for the health of our communities and the environment. O’Neill Sea Odyssey is a gem, offering young minds the opportunity to experience the outdoors, aboard a 65-foot catamaran, suspended over the ocean, on a net. It blows their mind every time!

Witnessing first-hand how impactful O’Neill Sea Odyssey has been, both personally and for the students, influenced me to pursue an advanced degree in sustainable business. This particular graduate program is dedicated to identifying and understanding how business can be used as a catalyst for positive change, both socially and environmentally. While the movement towards sustainable business management is just getting started, it poses a wealth of opportunity to create exciting, unique and innovative solutions to some of our biggest environmental threats. For my thesis, I am focusing on the economic valuation of non-profit services, using O’Neill Sea Odyssey as a case study. I am trying to determine the value of the OSO experience, or the necessary impact and outcome measurements to determine that value. My research is intended to help illustrate how important this, and similar experiences are and that we need to do everything we can to support them for years to come.

Spotlight video produced by intern, Sophie Holin.

My favorite OSO moment was while teaching an ecology lesson with the watershed model. One solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions presented by a student was to “turn off his video games and go play outside”. YES!! Double win! Not only did he make the connection to his own life and habits, he opted to go outside rather than stay indoors.

What does the ocean mean to you?

To me, the ocean is outer-space. Mind-blowingly incomprehensible. It is a life-sustaining mystery that we know very little about, yet are drawn to it in some way, shape or form. The ocean is the beating heart of our planet. It provides the air we breathe, the food we eat and the excitement we crave. It gives us inspiration for music, art, and film while reminding us that nature is a powerful force that we cannot control. The ocean reminds me that as a citizen of the planet, I have a great responsibility to protect the environment and leave things better than I found them. So, I have vowed to do everything I can to keep our watery, blue heart beating and thriving with life so future generations can experience the mystery, excitement, and awe that the ocean brings.


Thank you, Marina, for your leadership at O'Neill Sea Odyssey and your fearless dedication to protecting our planet, teaching our Ocean Stewards, and seeking solutions for positive change. You're an inspiration to us all.