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Young People Take Action to Promote Ocean Conservation and Protect Marine Ecosystems

Sarasota, FL – On Friday November 2nd and Saturday November 3rd, over two hundred
participants, and presenters, representing Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and
Washington DC, came together, at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida for
two special events aimed at increasing public awareness of pressing ocean conservation
issues and the implementation of youth led ocean conservation projects to combat these
challenges.
 
Friday night’s Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival highlighted the film work
of young people in the field of ocean conservation and featured the premier showing
of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce’s new educational short film, Rich
History… Priceless Future: The Tarpon of Boca Grand Pass. The event also featured a
screening of the award winning film This is Your Ocean Sharks introduced by the film’s
two time Emmy award director, George Schellenger, and shark conservationist/film star
Jim Abernethy.
 
The second annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, a day long educational outreach
effort organized by the Stow It-Don’t Throw It Marine Debris Prevention Project and
Mote Marine Laboratory, took place at Mote on Saturday November 3rd. The over one
hundred fifty participants in attendance this year were inspired by the work and message
of this year’s keynote speaker, Jim Abernethy, who captivated them while sharing his
life’s work in ocean conservation. Youth, who were in attendance at last year’s summit,
also inspired participants by sharing their work on ocean conservation projects that
emerged from last year’s summit. Their projects included beach clean ups, mangrove
planting projects, educational community events, school recycling projects and art
projects..
 
This year’s workshop presenters represented contributions from environmental and
youth organizations and schools which included Earth Echo International, Greening
Forward, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Canterbury School of Florida, One
More Generation, Conservation Enterprises Unlimited, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, 4-
H, Mote education staff and research scientists, as well as youth from the Stow It-Don’t
Throw It Project’s Management Team.
 
Additionally, a special contribution to this year’s summit workshop line up was the
Wyland Foundation’s Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience, which was made
available to youth attending the summit as well as visitors to Mote Aquarium on Friday
and Saturday.
 
Projects which emerged from this year’s summit include the expansion of the work of
the Stow It-Don’t Throw It Project, protection of marine mammals, litter awareness
educational programs and clean ups, educational film projects, and restoration of coral
reefs, mangrove habitat and oyster beds. Financial support for these projects will come
from revenue generated at this year’s Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival as
well as funds provided by the International Ocean Institute-USA.
 
Work at the 2012 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit culminated with a call to action
video message featuring National Geographic Explorer in Residence, Dr. Sylvia Earle,
Columbus Zoo Director Emeritus, Jack Hanna, Artist of the Sea, Wyland, and Australia
Zoo Wildlife Warriors, Bindi and Robert Irwin.