A blog post by Kaela Loriz, Ocean First Institute Communication and Outreach Intern.

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of one hundred years, teach the people. ” – Confucius

It takes the support and encouragement of a village to help a nonprofit and its team reach their potential. At Ocean First Institute, we work our hardest to develop engaging and effective programming to educate and inspire our growing community of ocean advocates. That said, we know that the donations of time, work, and funds that our supporters, volunteers, and donors provide allow us to expand our scope, working with students that we may not otherwise be able to reach.

In our Girls in Ocean Science Camp, burgeoning ocean advocates used virtual reality headsets and tried on some scuba gear in programming that introduced young women to a field of work that they are not traditionally encouraged to pursue! Photo Credit: Ocean First Institute

This summer, we received $1,250 in scholarships for our youth marine science camp programs. This support allowed us to reduce the programming costs for campers’ families and reach new students. There was a remarkable outpouring of support for our new Girls in Ocean Science program, with $900 of the aforementioned donations being allotted for that camp. During this week of camp, we dissected squid and fish, discovered the world of sharks and sea turtles, learned about plastic pollution and its impact on water quality, and heard from inspirational women in the field, such as invertebrate expert and educator, Cathy Christopher; underwater photographer and videographer, Klara Fejer; and marine conservationist and champion freediver, Mehgan Heaney-Grier. It was incredibly fulfilling to watch these sharp young women catch a glimpse of the opportunities that await them in marine science.

We rounded up our week at Underwater Robotics Camp with an obstacle course in the pool, allowing campers to see their apparatuses in action! Photo Credit: Ocean First Institute

Another one of our incredible summer camp programs was our Underwater Robotics Camp, which also had a large volunteer base. Campers learned about the importance of remote observations of extreme marine environments and got the chance to design, build, and test out their own underwater ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). After the initial tests, we held an obstacle course that presented students with tasks that simulate the real life obstacles and goals that face the ocean scientists who use similar technologies. These campers honed their robotics skills, learned about technology in ocean conservation work, and cooperated to achieve their goals as a team. We are so excited to see the positive impacts that all of this summer’s campers will continue making within the scientific community and for the health of our ocean!

Our Girls in Ocean Science crew after our creek cleanup. These young women enthusiastically collected a whole big bag of litter! Be on the lookout to see what this new generation of ocean advocates can do in our own community.  Photo Credit: Ocean First Institute

Finally, we’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of our volunteers and donors who help us develop and implement innovative programming, create new opportunities for students in the Front Range area, and make a greater difference. It’s with your continued support that we are able to do what we do and protect what we love. Thank you!