While Ocean Awareness Training was initially designed to educate participants about Hawaii’s unique marine environment, participants also learn about current ocean conservation efforts and opportunities to get personally involved.
EMPOWERMENT: Ocean user groups on each island are educated on pressing ocean issues and how they can personally engage in efforts to better steward these resources.
ACCESS TO PRACTITIONERS + OTHER EXPERTS: Participants share that their enthusiasm for OAT stems largely from the caliber of speakers, breadth of information provided, and having access to the university scientists, government agency staff, environmental educators, and and cultural + conservation practitioners who serve as instructors.
CAPACITY BUILDING: OAT training classes have proven to be fertile recruiting grounds for new volunteers, members, and supporters for our partner organizations. Many of our partner organizations also encourage their existing volunteers and staff to attend OAT as professional development. This creates opportunities for cross-pollination amongst partner organizations and results in new collaborations between partner organizations.
Beginning with the very first gathering in late 2008, program organizers have showcased various hands-on stewardship opportunities, and encouraged participants to reflect on their OAT experience to formulate personal commitments and actions to benefit Hawaii’s ocean and coastal environment.
But you don’t have to take just our word on this.
At the end of each program, we ask OAT participants, “What action will you take (or changes will you make) in your life to effect change in our ocean environment as a result of participating in Ocean Awareness Training?”
Here is a representative selection of their responses:
- As a fisherman, I will encourage my friends and family to use barbless hooks and provide contact information to the DLNR and NOAA for any sightings of abuse or illegal take.
- Palakiko made an impression on me as he talked about working together and having a heart of humility in order to get along with each other. I decided that I needed an attitude adjustment, and I committed to being less cynical about life. Instead of using the word “cannot,” I try to see if “can.”
- I hope to become more active with some of the organizations sponsoring volunteer activities. Additionally, I plan to be more discerning when I vote, making it a point to determine a candidate’s position on environmental issues and endangered species protection before casting a ballot.
- I am going to sell my car and rely on bicycling and public transportation to reduce my carbon emissions. I will also continue to avoid purchasing disposable plastic products.
- I plan on organizing a clean-up day on Marine Corp Base Hawaii for the Cub Scouts and doing a lesson plan on the importance of cleaning up the coastline and the impact trash has on the animals and plants in the ocean. I am more aware of the various impacts humans have on ocean life and will attempt to teach others. I hope to participate in the invasive algae removal groups and involve my family in my volunteering as much as possible.
- I will be more mindful of myself and others in the way that I interact with marine ecosystems. I will help to inform others of marine resource management issues in a clear and coherent way and in a non-confrontational fashion to help others to learn, rather than criticize and scold.
- I am more aware of the impact of marine debris. I see now that merely recycling plastic is not enough-I need to avoid using it as much as possible and encourage take-out restaurants, for example, to use biodegradable containers. We need to remove plastic from our environment, period.
- I will keep the animal rescue phone numbers close at hand so I will know who to call if I see an animal I think is in distress.
- Redouble efforts to help others appreciate the significance of our ocean resources. More posts on company FB page, for example, relating to ocean health.
- Consistently taking training classes when offered, volunteering as needed with various ocean projects, my goal is to work as a volunteer with the seal rehab hospital since i have a vet and medical background.
- I had already begun to pick up trash that I encounter on beach walks and land hikes. Now I have more info to encourage others to do the same. I’ll also join organized beach cleanups, and bring some friends. I have steel straws on order already! I now have barbless hooks to show my friends who fish, and the sustainable seafood app.
- I have contacted Eyes of the Reef and will be attending their next training here on Oahu. I also plan to attend an invasive algae removal in April.
- Since my field trip to Coconut Island was so inspiring – I plan to get more involved with their programs – by looking into volunteering and also ways that I can help with the research that is going on.
- I am a member of a local diving club and sailing club and will share what I learned during informal social events and while aboard the dive boat, interacting with tourists.