Last week a colleague and I were discussing the growing need for workforce development surrounding ocean conservation. There have been a string of polls over the last few years indicating Millennials are the most environmentally conscious generation yet and as they are excelling through the workforce, they are flexing their purchasing power accordingly. Now is the time to engage and inspire an even younger generation of environmental stewards and to prepare them for a future with even narrower margins and greater threats than we see today.
While visiting Italy, one of my oldest and best friends, Pete Muller, snapped this portrait above of me during our stay in Polignano a Mare. Pete and his wife Jehan, another dear friend of mine, currently live in Kenya where they have dedicated their lives to international development, journalism, and to unearthing the the root causes of conflict in much of the world. Even though during our college years at American University, I was the “scientist” in our group, giving lessons on ecosystems or evolutionary process, we all had one common yet loosely defined goal – to better the current state of affairs in whichever corner of the planet we could have influence.
Now, I often find myself asking why did we grow up to become adults motivated more by contributing to the greater good and less by the bottom-line ? What helped us develop a worldly view at a young age? Was it walking across a polluted beach or logged forrest as a teenager and realizing the permanence of human destruction? Was it that one inspirational teacher [Hi Wendy Amo] from middle school? Was it watching David Attenborough as a child and learning the delicate balance between all living beings? Perhaps it was not any one incident but a combination of all of these experiences.
Unfortunately, since graduating college and starting my first job at Conservation International in 2004, I witnessed the rapid decline of our ocean’s health and the degradation of coastal ecosystems, and though there are countless success stories, similar can be said for many other conservation efforts. I have returned to coral reefs and within a decade and seen them transform from loud and colorful, to silent and covered in sediment and algae. So what does this portend for our human and natural future? The future is now. Every day we pass thresholds of no return all while those of us who have dedicated our lives to conservation are banging our heads against the wall as we face roadblock after roadblock on protections, access to resources, or even the basic acknowledgment that a problem exists.
In the coming months SEVENSEAS Media is going to take a deeper look into what we need to do to inspire and train the next generation of ocean and environmental leaders. If you have any input or would like to contribute thoughts or solutions towards creating an effective workforce surrounding ocean conservation and stewardship, please reach out to me. I am 35 years old and my generation was handed a bruised and battered planet from our parents. What are we going to hand to the generation of tomorrow? At a minimum let it be the tools, education, and hope they need in order to repair the mistakes of the past.
More photos by Pete Muller from our quick trip to Polignano a Mare, Italy:
This month on SEVENSEAS Media we have some great stories coming out of the Philippines, we learn about the Green Coconut Run sailing voyage in French Polynesia, California marine science educators visit to Cuba, Hello Ocean’s expedition exploring the Mesoamerican Reef, we visit New Zealand, New Caledonia, Puget Sound, Laos, plus lots of science talk, unique eco-vacation deals, and much much more. Be sure to check out the full Table of Contents for August. If you would like to publish a story on your work, research, or organization, please see our very simple guidelines here.
At SEVENSEAS Media we work tirelessly to inspire and educate the next generation while fostering collaboration and building a close knit community between all our partners in marine conservation. We directly act as a free PR arm and fundraising tool for hundreds of organizations doing invaluable work. At the same time, we need your support. On a shoestring budget with thousands of volunteer hours logged-in, every donation goes a long way and helps ensure we keep telling the stories of all those who need their voices to be heard. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to keep SEVENSEAS Media running through 2017 and beyond.
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Safe travels & happy swimming,
Giacomo Abrusci, Executive Director, Editor-in-Chief
“The scope of emerging national and international ocean-related issues facing society demands that we develop broad perspectives on graduate education and training in the ocean sciences. A multifaceted ocean workforce and new kinds of intellectual partnerships are needed to address ocean science research priorities, strengthen our understanding of coupled human-natural ocean systems, engage and inform public policy and management decision making, and increase ocean literacy. Alumni from graduate programs in ocean sciences are following diverse career paths in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, and industry, and thus can inform us about the diverse skills needed to succeed. The ocean science academic community should build on its current strengths (e.g., multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research and education, international partnerships), and capitalize on what some might view as limitations (e.g., remote, yet inviting, coastal campuses, diversity of ocean science programs), to become an incubator of innovation that will advance the field and strengthen graduate education and training. Partnerships within and among institutions with ocean-related programs, and with professional societies, employers, and others, can help us provide cutting-edge, relevant academic options, facilitate professional development, and proactively position graduates for career paths that reflect and address important societal needs.” [Schaffner, Linda C., et al. “Moving Forward: 21St Century Pathways to Strengthen the Ocean Science Workforce Through Graduate Education and Professional Development.” Oceanography, vol. 29, no. 1, 2016, pp. 36–43. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24861946.]