For more information, please contact Darcy MacRae, public relations/communications officer, Fisheries and Marine Institute, at (709) 778-0677, (709) 687-2205, Darcy.MacRae@mi.mun.ca
or Kimberley Thornhill, educational marketing co-ordinator, Fisheries and Marine Institute, at (709) 778-0544, (709) 691-9221, Kim.Thornhill@mi.mun.ca
Youth and Oceans Conferences
The Youth and the Oceans Conference for the Avalon Region will take place at the Marine Institute in St. John’s on Friday, Feb.12. This is one of four conferences planned for 2010. The other conferences take place in Corner Brook, Burin and a yet-to-be announced location in Labrador. All four
conferences will concentrate on the role of youth in marine environmental activity in the province.
More than 150 junior and senior high school students and teachers are expected to attend the Youth and the Oceans Conference at the Marine Institute. The conference aims to bring youth together in a day-long series of thought-provoking presentations and interactive discussions. This event will focus on marine environmental issues which represent leadership and career opportunities for youth. The theme is sustainability – what it means to us, our role in it and our opportunities to take action.
In keeping with the conference’s tradition of engaging youth, the youth forum will give students the opportunity to have their voices heard. Through direct participation in discussions on environmental issues, students engage in the issues that matter most to them.
Several environmental excellence awards will be presented to youth and community heroes at the Avalon conference. Provincial winners will be announced for the Community Environmental Stewardship Award – Community Category; Eco-Champ Award – School Category; Youth Environmental Stewardship Award – Youth Category and Local Heroes Award – Individual Volunteer Category.
A student art challenge will take place at each Youth and Oceans Conference. The subject for all entries is global marine pollution and entries will be accepted for visual art (painting, sculpture, drawing and photography) and writing (short story, poetry and essay).
Ocean Net was founded in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997 by environmentalist Robert O’Brien. It was a grassroots, non-government organization mandated to instill an ocean conservation ethic and work with community volunteers to take action in support of a sustainable marine environment.
Through the development of education-by-action programs and initiatives, Ocean Net volunteers aimed to make positive changes in the areas of marine conservation, waste management, youth education, youth empowerment and climate change mitigation.
Ocean Net won numerous provincial and national awards during its 12 years of existence. Most recently, Ocean Net founder and volunteer chair Robert O’Brien won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 NL Environmental Awards. In 2008, Ocean Net won the Canadian Geographic’s Environmental Award (silver) in the conservation category in recognition of its efforts to protect and preserve the beach, shoreline and underwater areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ocean Net was also named the winner of the 2007 Earth Day Canada Hometown Heroes Achievement Award for O’Brien’s 10-year contribution to
marine conservation. In 2006, Ocean Net was rewarded with the Doug Wheeler Tourism Award for its contribution to the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 2004, the Provincial Government declared Ocean Net Day in the province to be the third Friday of September annually to celebrate the organization’s proactive environmental actions.
Ocean Net’s core environmental program has always been the cleanup of community beaches, shorelines and underwater areas throughout the province. Since 1997, Ocean Net has organized 1,600 such cleanups with the help of more than 32,000 volunteers. Some of the cleanups were between 18 and 25 kilometres long and included the coordinated support of up to 16 communities.