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Traditional Ecological Knowledge at NMEA18: Knowing Where We Come From

Posted By Linda Chilton, Saturday, September 1, 2018

Chandra LedgesogHow often do we think of who we are, who formed our foundation and what our connections are when we introduce ourselves to someone new?  Chandra Ledgesog opened many eyes and challenged us all to think more deeply when she presented her session, "Hofagie wa’gey: Integration of Traditional Knowledge of Ulithi Atoll" at NMEA 2018 as a representative for the traditional knowledge group. It is valuable in many ways to connect where you come from to where you are going.  

Chandra’s illustration of how traditional knowledge has helped her community in being resilient both in the past and going forward provide valuable lessons for all of us.  They have always needed to manage life in an area that is highly saline at one meter above sea level and continue to deal with impacts from WWII with leaking abandoned artillery on their atoll. In the present, impacts of climate change provide significant challenges with increased water temperatures resulting in both coral bleaching and expansion of a coral that doesn’t provide fish habitat.  The resulting decline in fisheries stocks is just one of many challenges they must face.  Added to that is increased intensity of tropical typhoons and drought conditions much of the year.  

Communities have moved homes inland, yet they find themselves challenged to keep pace with coastal erosion.  Chandra’s people are strong, resilient people who have faced many changes.  Relationships within the archipelago include cultural exchanges between those on high islands and low islands, thus there are places to go with inundation from the sea or storms. 

Ulithi AtollOften times scientists come to communities to impart their knowledge and study the people before departing, only taking.  Chandra’s community has built relationships with biologists from different atolls as well as different regions.  This takes time and trust building but in doing so it creates opportunities to grow and work together, sharing knowledge and understanding of what is happening. Their work together has resulted in the growth of marine protected areas and strategies for monitoring fish populations.  The researchers who come with respect for culture and customs, come to learn, develop relationships and work together on joint efforts.  These partnerships have resulted in both cultural exchanges and sharing science and science practices.    

While historically traditional knowledge (culture, dance, song and more) was passed down in everyday life including cooking with grandmothers, currently there are many other interests for youth and there have been gaps in the exchange of knowledge and skills which were held closely and highly valued.  The decrease in valuing of these skills risks the loss of knowledge.  Youth often find it a challenge to pursue college degrees, to become scientists and policy makers with the struggle of both language and culture.  It is through Chandra’s studies and work that she and others are ensuring that traditional knowledge continues to be treasured and shared. Her presentation helped all of us to see that integrating traditional knowledge into future conservation plans is critical for success and doing so requires a holistic approach. 

Photo information:

  1. Chandra Ledgesog presenting at NMEA18
  2. Ulithi Atoll c. 1992, from NOAA's Small World Collection, photographer: Mr. Ben Mieremet

Tags:  NMEA18 

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Expanding Our Audiences - 2018 Scholarship Winners

Posted By Dieuwertje Kast, Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A strategic goal of NMEA is to increase the number of members who represent and/or educate underrepresented minorities including, but not limited to people of color, indigenous people, island people, international communities, inland areas, and English-language learners.

We were honored to offer the following exceptional educators Expanded Audience Scholarships for 2018.

Nevada Winrow

Nevada WinrowAs the founder of Black Girls Dive Foundation, a community-based, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering young girls from unrepresented and underserved communities to explore their STEM identity; Dr. Winrow brings many years of experience to the organization. Her background in research and higher education administration has positioned the organization as a forward-thinking beacon of youth empowerment in STEM. It is Dr. Winrow’s belief that we must transcend the typical STEM education and move towards more robust and innovative pedagogical approaches and robust programming that bridges formal with informal science learning settings an produce connected digital networks to broaden minority participation in STEM and transform the lives of our youth into future sciences.

Her philosophy manifests in her dedication and service in teaching and administrative positions in higher education. Dr. Winrow has served on several Boards of Trustee of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) and well as industry performance excellence Boards of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. 

Dr. Winrow considers herself a life-long learner. She earned her Ph.D. in Neuropsychology from Howard University. She holds a Masters Degree in Cognitive Neuroscience/Neuropsychology from Howard University, a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology from Lincoln University and is currently completing her MBA with a specialization in Finance from the University of Baltimore. She is a former Neuroscience Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and NIH fellow of the National Institution of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Dr. Winrow completed graduate work in Child Neuropsychology at the Paedological Institute in Duivendrecht, The Netherlands under Dr. Dirk Baker and completed two clinical research postdoctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology followed by a second postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology Division. Her clinical research interests are in the neuropsychological and neuroradiological correlates of stroke in a pediatric sickle cell disease population. Dr. Winrow has published research and served as a contributing book author with the National Institutes of Health/ National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood Disorders on issues revolving neurodiagnostic assessment and stroke, and clinical case management in children with sickle cell disease.

Dr. Winrow is an aquatic enthusiast who is certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructions (PADI) as a Master Scuba Diver and is a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. She has taken her love of science and the ocean and founded, Black Girls Dive Foundation, creating opportunities for young girls from ethnic minority groups to explore their STEM identity. Although a new foundation, Dr. Winrow has made significant strides in position the organization’s operational sustainability through strategic domestic and international partnerships, fundraising and sponsorship and grant awards.

Meghan Emidy

Meghan EmidyMeghan Emidy is an environmental educator, scientist, and marine conservation advocate. Meghan studied Environmental Science at Westfield State University in Massachusetts and is now a recent graduate of Scripps Institution of Oceanography where she earned her master's degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. For her graduate work, Meghan developed a high school curriculum on the subjects of climate change, coastal ecosystems, and marine protected areas that integrates subject matter within a place-based education framework. 

Meghan has worked as an educator at the New England Aquarium and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. Meghan now works as a fellow at WILDCOAST, an international conservation organization dedicated to conserving coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. She continues her education and outreach work by taking youth on field experiences in coastal and marine environments through WILDCOAST's Explore My MPA program. Each year more than 300 students, including many from tribal communities, park-poor neighborhoods, and under-represented backgrounds, are brought to the ocean to learn about marine ecology and conservation. Meghan strives to create equitable learning opportunities for San Diego's youth through this program and her work as an environmental educator.

Carla Christie

Carla ChristieCarla Christie is a Marine Biologist from Chile, and because of her passion on the endemic and unknown Chilean dolphin, she switched from science research to science communication. Thanks to a Chilean government scholarship, Carla has a Masters in Science Communication from Otago University New Zealand, where she began the draft of the book “El delfín chileno” published in 2015.

Carla is currently the Coordinator of Science Outreach at the Science Faculty of Universidad Austral de Chile in the city of Valdivia, southern Chile, developing cultural and educational projects and activities for school students and the community.

Carla was selected as one of the “100 young leaders from Chile,” recognized as a “Young Entrepreneur of Marine Conservation” by the program “Chile es Mar” lead by the Chile-California Council, was part of a cultural TV program “La Odisea: Valientes en la Patagonia,” and recently represented Chile in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) from the US Department of State “Hidden No More: Empowering Women Leaders in STEM.”

Carla presented with Mark Friedman from LA Maritime Institute and Yasuyuki Kosaka from Japan: “If You Eat Seafood, You’re Probably Eating Plastic,” a panel discussion with hands on activities on micro-plastics research/data collection and exper­imentation with innovative solutions, educational and action activities.

Claudio Aguayo

Claudio AguayoClaudio Aguayo is a Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Learning and Teaching, and the Research & Development Director at the App Lab, Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. His main role is to lead research to inform innovative practice of learning technologies in education. He is currently undertaking research projects at the local, national and international level in mobile learning, sustainability education, marine science education, and educational app development. Claudio’s current interests include the role of technology in non-formal contexts through affective and emotional dimensions, embodied cognition in digital learning spaces, and integration of traditional knowledge in technology-enhanced learning.

Claudio’s presentation at NMEA18, “Mixed Reality Learning In Marine Ecological Literacy Education,” reported on an ongoing research study based in New Zealand that explores the use of mobile technologies within freechoice learning settings for marine ecological literacy education, with special attention given to the theoretical principles and practical considerations informing the use of Mixed Reality learning in visitor centers for cross-sector education.

Tags:  expanding audiences  NMEA18  scholarship 

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2018 NMEA Scavenger Hunt

Posted By Jennifer Magnusson, Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018

Scavenger Hunt Directions

Grab a partner for a chance to win two tickets to tour the Queen Mary with one of the ship’s outstanding tour guides. All responses must be in by 5pm on Wednesday.

Here’s how you play.

  1. To submit responses, create a folder for your team here: Title the folder with your and your partner’s names.
  2. In your team folder, create one google doc to answer questions. At the top of the page write your names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Number the questions that have answers.
  3. Upload your photos into your folder with the correct titles for each photo.
  4. As soon as you finish all of the questions (or as many as you can complete) rename your team folder so that it has your names and DONE, e.g., EmilyWeiss_NeetiRiar_DONE. Make sure to finish by 5pm on Wednesday.

A winning pair will be randomly selected from the highest scoring teams. Winners will be notified by Thursday morning.

Scavenger Hunt Challenges (5 points each)

  1. Take a picture with one of next year’s conference hosts in front of the NMEA 2019 booth. (title: 1NMEA19)
  2. Take a picture with the Elkington Plate and Grovesnor China, matching the pose of the woman eating and man reading his menu. (title: 2China)
  3. Take a picture of yourselves next to the picture of Queen Elizabeth and Crew of the Queen Mary. (title: 3QECrew)
  4. What time do the horn stacks go off?
  5. There are not the same number of lifeboats on the RMS Queen Mary and on the model of the ship on the promenade level. How many lifeboats are on each?
  6. Take a picture of yourselves in front of the Winston Churchill Suite. (title: 6Churchill)
  7. Take a picture of yourselves in front of Door 13 in the Engine Room (title: 7EngineRoom)
  8. How many times did Queen Mary board the RMS Queen Mary?
  9. Take a picture or short video of yourselves in one of the “haunted” parts of the ship. (title: 9Haunted)
  10. Take a picture of yourselves with a current member of the NMEA board (if you’re a current member of the board find someone not on your team). (title: 10Board)
  11. Take a picture of yourselves by the pool. (title: 11Pool)
  12. Take a picture of yourselves with someone you met at this conference; title it with how you met. (title: 12[HowWeMet])
  13. Take a picture of yourselves holding some Queen Mary memorabilia in the gift shop. (title: 13Memorobilia)
  14. Ask someone who works on board the ship for the spookiest thing they’ve ever seen while working here. Write down their story.
  15. Take a picture of yourselves with Audrey Hepburn. (title: 15Audrey)
  16. What is the record breaking number of people aboard any ship? And which ship holds this record? Hint: you may need to find a tour guide to help you out.
  17. Take a picture of yourselves having a drink on the deck outside the Observation Bar. (title: 17Bar)
  18. How many Bell Boys are in the picture by the Cunard House Flag?
  19. How many tins of tea are in the Steward’s Pantry?
  20. What shape is on the shower curtain in the Captain’s Quarters?

Bonus questions (2 points each)

  1. Of current RMS Queen Mary staff, who has worked on board the longest?
  2. How old was he when he started?
  3. Take a picture of his picture (he’s not on board this week)

Download a printable file of instructions

Tags:  NMEA18 

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NMEA Blue-Green Lifestyle

Posted By Jennifer Magnusson, Thursday, June 28, 2018

It’s almost time for NMEA 2018, hosted by the Southwest Marine Educators Association in sunny Long Beach, CA!  As you begin to pack your bags please remember NMEA’s Blue-Green Initiatives and…

Bring Your Own (BYO):

  • BYOWB – favorite REUSABLE water bottle!
  • BYOM – favorite REUSABLE mug!
  • BYONBH – favorite REUSABLE name badge holder from a previous conference or workshop.  If you have a stash of extras and are willing to donate them, bring them along.  We will gladly share them at registration for others to reuse!
  • BYOT – favorite REUSABLE tote, for all of that awesome NMEA swag!

It’s always wise to plan ahead.  Think: how can I pack lighter? What do I want to do in my spare time? Where should I eat?  How can I be more blue-green?  Well, here are some additional travel tips and possible answers to those lingering questions:

  • Bring your own refillable toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. so that you don’t need to use the ones offered in your room.
  • Keep your towels on the rack and reuse them.
  • Practice water conservation!
  • Do to specific requirements of the ship, the rooms may be chilly…we recommend bringing layers!  But hey, southern California can be cool at night anyway!
  • Pack clothes that can be worn more than once.  Do you really need 5 pairs of jeans?
  • Eat at establishments that support local, organic and/or sustainable food supplies, and avoid take-out unless packed in sustainable packaging.  Check out
  • OH…you can’t forget dessert! and
  • Bring/use reef and eco-safe sunscreens. 
  • Support local businesses and buy locally-made souvenirs.
  • Make sure to plan some time to explore the historic Queen Mary.  From exhibits to tours, it has it all.  Check it out!   NMEA attendees get a discount! Woot! Woot!

Other things you can do once conferencing is over:

  • Tide pooling at Abalone Cove
  • Taking a southbound drive down Pacific Coast Highway at sunset
  • Checking out the surf at Huntington Beach (Surf City USA!)
  • Walking down Main Street in Seal Beach
  • Eating breakfast burritos at every possible opportunity!


Tags:  Conservation  NMEA18 

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Why You Won’t See Beef at NMEA 2018

Posted By Jennifer Magnusson, Thursday, June 14, 2018

CattleDocumentation states that the livestock industry is responsible for approximately 15% of global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.  Of this percentage, 80% of the emissions are directly related to animals such as cattle.  A typical cow releases 100 kilograms of methane gas each year, or approximately 1/10 of a metric ton. 

Now multiply that number by the outrageous number of cows on this planet (approximately 1.5 billion) and you get…a very big number!  Now, we know we can’t just blame the cows, but they are a major contributing factor in global climate change.  But is it really just the cows?  Scientific evidence shows that methane gas produced by livestock is second to fossil fuel production, but resource use and environmental impacts of farm-raised edible protein matters just as much, if not more.

Here’s an interesting fact from the World Resources Institute: “If cattle were able to form their own nation, they would rank third behind China and the United States among the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.” That’s a scary thought.

Rest assured that without beef there will be plenty to eat, and you can bet that sustainable seafood will be on the menu. As consumers we need to be aware of the effects of our choices.  Along with this year’s conference being “beef free”, conference participants are being asked to bring their own lanyards, reusable water bottles, and mugs. 

As an added bonus, this year’s swag bags, designed by ChicoBags, are fashioned out of 100% post-consumer, recycled plastic bottles. Can we agree that this is awesome?! 

RMS Queen MaryIn addition, the conference committee is encouraging bus, bicycle, and boat transportation to and from events, the conference, and of course sightseeing around beautiful Long Beach, California.  Behind the scenes, the conference committee has been working hard to minimize the amount of single use plastics, and we are proud to say that all of the conference venues are on board!  Speaking of “on board,” let’s focus on the Queen Mary, shall we?  In terms of reusable items, the Queen Mary gets the win.  Her history is nothing, if not amazing.  She started as a transatlantic luxury cruise liner hosting many Hollywood elites, was transformed into the largest and fastest troopship to sail during WWII, transformed back to her original self, and finally became a grand floating hotel, attraction, and icon of Southern California.  We hope that you are as excited as we are.  Looking forward to a fabulous NMEA 2018!

~ NMEA Conservation Committee

Give it a try: observe one meat-free day a week to curb your carbon emissions.

Tags:  Conservation  guest blog; conservation  NMEA18 

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News from the NMEA National Office: Creating Great Stories with our Chapters

Posted By Jeannette Connors, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I like to think of hosting an NMEA conference the way that American novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the construction of a great story. He says that “easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Chapters BookNMEA has 16 regional Chapters (14 currently active) and each year one of these Chapters takes on the daunting task of planning an NMEA conference. Because these conferences run so smoothly and are so successful, our Chapters make it look like easy work. Assisting them behind the scenes gives the National Office a glimpse into how much work and how much time is involved in planning these events. Attending a conference is stimulating and satisfying, like a novel that is engrossing and easy to read. The only requisite is to show up, relax and enjoy. These conferences are fascinating from the Introduction to the last Chapter.

Queen Mary Bow ViewAn NMEA conference unfolds like a charming novel. A good story starts with an inviting setting. This year, the Southwest Marine/Aquatic Educators Association (SWMEA) is hosting our annual conference from July 15-20 and they have chosen a picture-perfect backdrop. We will be aboard the RMS Queen Mary, a retired British ocean liner now permanently docked in Long Beach, CA as a hotel, museum and event facility.

Similarly, the Introduction to a great read should be appealing and capture the reader’s attention. NMEA18’s Introduction invites us to experience a thrilling evening on the beaches of California. A starry, perhaps moonlit night will open an event called the Grunion Run. Grunion are small silverside fish with, shall we say, interesting behaviors when they make their way onto the beach. Be sure to arrive in time to enjoy this unique activity! If you can’t attend this beach event, we also have an evening kickoff event in the Queen Mary’s Britannia Salon. This elegant salon is situated at the stern of the ship and opens onto a private deck where guests can enjoy the fresh ocean air and panoramic views of Long Beach.

Skimming the Contents, some of the chapters of our story include:

  • Reflect, Blend and Design at our Pre-Conference workshops!
  • Sessions, sessions and more sessions. A few of our many sessions include:
    • Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA
    • If You Eat Seafood, You’re Probably Eating Plastic
    • Project Based Learning Marine Science
    • Globally Sourced Interdisciplinary Lessons that Flow from the Mountains to the Ocean
  • NMEA’s Youth Conference rocks! Calling all middle school, high school and college students who are passionate about marine science, education, and conservation
  • Field Trip Fun including Catalina Island, whale watching and the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge

After finishing an unforgettable book, sometimes I want to flip to the first page and start the adventure again. Fortunately, I can look forward to another bestseller by the Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association (GOMMEA) at the NMEA2019 conference in New Hampshire!

Queen Mary photo credit:

Tags:  National office  NMEA18 

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