Conference takes ocean education to new levels

Oceans education gets a boost in Metchosin next week

The upcoming Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME) conference will offer an in-depth examination of the role the ocean plays in our lives, and vice-versa.

The conference, which takes place Aug. 14 to 18 at Pearson College in Metchosin, brings together educators, researchers, students, resource professionals and non-formal teachers in an educational celebration of fresh and salt water, said marine educator and communicator Anne Stewart.

When you consider that more than 70 per cent of Earth is ocean and they contain 97 per cent of earth’s water, oceans define our planet, said Stewart, chair of the NAME board and one of the event’s organizers.

“The ocean is the big blue elephant in the classroom,” said Stewart. “That’s because, globally, there’s very little curriculum that addresses the ocean.”

The conference aims to promote ocean literacy and our understanding of their influence on us and our influence on the ocean, Stewart explained. “Another cool thing about this particular conference is that it will address new teaching requirements in B.C. by weaving in a First Nations perspective.”

The conference themes are Connecting to Place-Environmental Education and Indigenous Sciences, and Watersheds-Communities Without Borders, as well as Ocean Literacy. Concurrent sessions, hands-on workshops and social events form part of the conference.

Keynote speakers include local teacher Lenny Ross, who created the Colquitz Watershed Stewardship Project, eco-rowing at Esquimalt Lagoon and Gorge eco-tours. He will kick off the conference with a presentation titled Nature Centred, Place-Based Learning: The education of an aquatic and marine educator.

Eileen van der Flier Keller, an earth scientist at the University of Victoria, explores through the context of ocean literacy, How is the Ocean Changing in the Anthropocene?

Vancouver Island University teacher Dr. Jane Watson, an expert on B.C. sea otter ecology, gives a key-note presentation on Sea Otters – A Very Natural History.

A pre-conference workshop on Aug. 14 that deals with visualizing ocean change will be conducted by Seattle Aquarium educators and is free to the first 20 people to register.

One of the nice aspects of the conference is that you can register online for the entire conference or whatever your schedule permits, Stewart said.

NAME is grateful for the support for the conference and a $250 donation from Vancity Credit Union.

Held for the past 40 years, the event attracts representatives from B.C., Washington, Oregon and Alaska. B.C. hosts the conference every four years.

Check out to register or for more information.

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