Session Chair: Allison Schutes, Ocean Conservancy

This session is aimed to interest anyone (including educators, researchers, industry professionals, and conservationists in the field) who frequently interacts with the general public, such as students or cleanup volunteers, as this session focuses on different methods to deliver concise, intelligible and critical information to large groups in challenging settings.

Ocean trash, while seemingly simple, is an issue that can be complex and even confusing when put into context and scale. Luckily, many organizations have mastered different outreach techniques that leave audiences well-informed, committed to making an impact, and eager to learn more. Understanding the diverse approaches presenters utilize will leave conference attendees equipped with a toolbox of simple ideas, hints, and activities to employ even in the most challenging of scenarios.

In this session we plan to explore examples of outstanding marine debris education programs, materials, and, notably, activities that exemplify diverse geographies, scales and audience levels. Attendees can learn from challenges, trials and successes our colleagues have faced. Is there one perfect outreach strategy that works for all sectors of the field and speaks to all audiences? Probably not, but we can learn from each other’s experiences and employ a patchwork of programs, materials and activities that can be tailored for specific educational opportunities.

For Ocean Conservancy, the volunteer cleanup experience through the International Coastal Cleanup and storytelling through debris data are the backbones of the organizations work on the issues. Building off these elements, the Talking Trash & Taking Action marine debris education partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program was launched. The program continues to be one of the Trash Free Seas Program’s most popular and frequently used resources. In 2016 alone, the program was sent to educators from Maine to Washington to Florida and even Panama. By spotlighting similar and vastly different programs from around the world, attendees and presenters alike will leave better equipped to interface with the general public about the issue of ocean plastics.

Through active demonstrations and moderated panel discussions, we hope to glean information on what’s available in terms of marine debris education, elicit best practices, discuss ways to scale and build upon successes, learn from cross-sector programs in speaking to different audiences and explore new ways to share messaging traditionally and digitally.



From New England to England: a Tale of Traveling Disks

presenting: Jennifer Kennedy (Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, United States); authors: Jennifer Kennedy (Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, United States), Rebeca Murillo (Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation), Michael Toepfer (University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension)

In 2011, more than 4 million biofilm chips (“disks”) were accidentally released from the wastewater treatment facility in Hooksett, New Hampshire into the Merrimack River. The Merrimack River empties into the Gulf of Maine, and soon the disks were being found all over New England. After 6 years, the disks continue to wash up, not only in local coastal areas, but as far away as England. Since 2011, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation has been tracking the disks through beach cleanups and anecdotal reports, and using the information in educational programs to illustrate how trash travels. In 2017, we worked with University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension to create an ArcGIS Story Map to tell the story of the disks, collate and coordinate sightings reports and encourage citizen scientists to photograph and report their disk sightings. This presentation will discuss the story of the traveling disks, the creation and use of the Story Map, lessons learned, and the potential use in educational programs.


Communicating for a Clean Future: Creating a Public Service Announcement Competition for Students

Presenting: Sarah Lowe (NOAA Marine Debris Program, United States); Authors: Susan Bixler (The Ohio State University, United States), Sarah Lowe (Freestone Environmental Services)

The Ohio Marine Debris Challenge connects high school students with marine debris science and the Great Lakes. This competition is a unique cross-sector partnership between public and private organizations including The Ohio State University Stone Laboratory/Ohio Sea Grant, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, and Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. After learning about marine debris in the oceans and Great Lakes from the provided lessons, students develop a public service announcement, which focuses on inspiring others to acknowledge marine debris and be part of the solution. Winners of the competition are hosted by Cedar Point Amusement Park during Physics, Math, and Science Week, where they receive a certificate from their Member of Congress, and other recognition for their work. The contest is in our third year, with many lessons-learned on the creation of this unique competition and the establishment of strong community partnerships. These lessons-learned as well as information on adapting marine competitions to freshwater environments will be shared with attendees to encourage creation of similar education initiatives in other locations.


Equipping students to be the change they want to see

presenting: Marti Martz (Pennsylvania Sea Grant, United States); authors: Marti Martz (Pennsylvania Sea Grant, United States)

The Center for Great Lakes Literacy, (CGLL), strives to “Develop a community of Great Lakes literate educators, students, environmental professionals, and citizen volunteers, dedicated to improved Great Lakes stewardship”. (www.CGLL.org). Engaging students and educators on the issue of microplastics and marine debris has been an especially rewarding task. Plastic is all around us and it’s easy to see how much of it makes its way into the environment. A partnership between the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the US Environmental Protection Agency, CGLL provides the science and tools to engage basin residents in active stewardship of Great Lakes resources. Gathering fact based information and working with others in their communities, be it their families, school boards or local government, to implement what they’ve learned are critical skills for the next generation of decision-makers, stakeholders, educators and scientists. In Pennsylvania, CGLL provides a link from the lab to the classroom along with the resources to promote engagement and stewardship. Our staff shares the science, provides lessons from vetted sources such as NOAA’s Marine Debris program, and supports field and lab experiences for students that inform their service projects which they share with peers, families and communities. This experiences allows students to become content experts and agents of change in their communities. This presentation will share methods of educator/student engagement that promote an in-depth understanding of the issue of plastic pollution along with examples of projects students have undertaken to build a community discussion around single-use plastics.


Non-Profit Collaborations: Ecotourism to Create Partnerships to Inspire the Behavior Change Needed for Plastic Pollution Reductions.

presenting: Wayne Sentman (Oceanic Society, United States); authors: Wayne Sentman (Oceanic Society, United States), Dianna Cohen (Plastic Pollution Coalition), Pamela Longobardi (Georgia State University), Kip Evans (Mission Blue)

Ecotourism can play a vital role in connecting an international audience to the conservation consequences of increasing amounts of plastic pollution in the marine environments that tourists frequent. International ecotourism operators can be an overlooked stakeholder, a voice in support of regional plastic pollution reduction measures. Ecotourism designed with positive conservation impact in mind can help reinforce and motivate local efforts to garner public and governmental support to address plastic pollution prevalence in a specific ecosystem. Experiential ecotourism expeditions, when designed by multiple non-profits collaborating can offer a unique method to amplify that impact and support on-the-ground NGO’s by connecting a diverse global community to help precipitate the behavior changes desired regionally to reduce sources of plastic pollution.

In November 2016 US-based non-profits Oceanic Society, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Mission Blue, and Drifter’s Project worked with an Indonesian NGO, The Coral Triangle Center, designing the “Dragons to Debris” Expedition, to explore the impacts of marine pollution on the diverse coral reef habitats found between Bali and Komodo. The collaborative effort fielded a multi-generational group from 6 continents; made up of scientists, filmmakers, representatives of the media, visual artists, students, naturalists, philanthropists, and environmental activists. With this expedition, the combined skills and reputations of our organizations could be brought to bear to promote the value of sustainable marine tourism in support of local governments, NGOs, schools, and other stakeholders, all eager to engage with the mission of identifying plastic pollution sources and reducing its entry in to the marine environments by promoting “Blue Habits” or pro-ocean behavior changes.


Shareholder Engagement on Ocean Plastic Pollution

presenting: Conrad MacKerron (As You Sow, United States); authors: Conrad MacKerron (As You Sow, United States)

As You Sow is a non-profit that uses shareholder engagement to educate large publicly traded consumer goods companies about the potential risk to their brands posed by brand packaging that is swept into waterways, and to challenge them to improve related policies and practices. It is the only shareholder oriented group specializing in ocean plastic pollution, waste, and recycling issues.

In 2014, As You Sow began to engage and educate corporate management of large consumer brands like Procter & Gamble about the threat posed to oceans by brand packaging. Non-recyclable packaging is more likely to be littered and swept into waterways. A study by the Global Environment Facility concluded that one cause of debris entering oceans is “design and marketing of products internationally without appropriate regard to their environmental fate or ability to be recycled…” We asked companies to take an initial step towards stemming the flow of ocean pollution by making packaging more recyclable. A shareholder proposal we filed at P&G received strong support by one-quarter of shareholders at their annual meeting, asking for an assessment of the environmental impact of using non-recyclable packaging. The company responded swiftly and positively, agreeing to make 90% of its packaging recyclable by 2020. Another large consumer brand, Colgate-Palmolive committed that all packaging in three of its four operating divisions would be recyclable and that it would use 50% recycled content by 2020. We are now in discussion with McDonald’s Corp. to phase out harmful polystyrene cup use globally.


Robots, drones & 3D printers: going beyond cleanups for education and inspiration

presenting: Rachael Miller (Rozalia Project, United States); authors: Rachael Miller (Rozalia Project, United States)

Eight years, thousands of people of all ages (mostly kids) and hundreds of volunteer educators are what make up Rozalia Project’s experience with marine debris education. In this session, we will share our best, our worst and our take-aways as we’ve developed our marine debris program from an ROV-centered experience to a data cleanup-centered experience to what we are delivering today: a program that utilizes, but goes beyond cleanups. The goal of the education program in Expedition STEM for the Ocean is a process with the goal to end with solutions – locally relevant and developed by the participants themselves, addressing the problems that move them to action; while inspiring young, coastal residents to get excited about STEM fields…for the ocean. We will also share some of our perspective on what engages adult audiences throughout the hundreds of presentations we’ve given on Rozalia Project, the problem of marine debris and how people can be part of the solution..


Talking Trash & Taking Action: Interactive Activities to Engage Anyone, Anywhere

presenting: Allison Schutes (Ocean Conservancy, United States); authors: Sarah Kollar (Ocean Conservancy)

What exactly is “ocean trash” and how does it get there in the first place? How does trash travel and how does it impact the ocean animals we love? As the directing organization of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), Ocean Conservancy has been confronted with questions like these for over thirty years. Youth, especially, are interested in the issue and are eager to get involved. Building off experience from the ICC and the rich dataset that tells the ocean trash story by numbers, the Trash Free Seas Program® at Ocean Conservancy has developed Talking Trash & Taking Action, a marine debris education partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program. The program is built around what we do best: cleanups –and takes it a step further, providing easy-to-understand and scientifically sound information and activities for before, during and after a cleanup. Made with flexibility in mind, any educator can pull activities and modules that suite their specific audiences’ age and education levels in any amount of time. Session attendees can partake in two short activities from the program. We welcome feedback as we continue to build upon our own materials and aim to act as an international hub for marine debris education materials that can augment any cleanup experience.


The Mobile Beach Cleanup Unit: Bringing the Public to New Depths

presenting: Rebecca Farnum (Kuwait Dive Team, Kuwait); authors: Dari Alhuwail (Kuwait Dive Team, Kuwait), Rebecca Farnum (Kuwait Dive Team)

In 1986, a small group of Kuwaiti friends began using their interest in scuba diving to help protect the beautiful habitats they discovered underwater. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War – devastating to marine as well as terrestrial ecosystems and infrastructure – the Kuwait Dive Team’s work became emergency post-conflict rebuilding. 25 years later, much of the Gulf’s underwater has been restored, thanks to extensive salvage and rescue operations, artificial reef installations, and regular underwater monitoring. The Dive Team has begun cleaning up the everyday pollution of picnickers’ rubbish and industrial dumping rather than aftereffects of war. This has led to an increasing concern over sustainability – and how to not ‘simply’ clean up the seas, but prevent them from becoming harmed to begin with. A passionate group of master divers, the Team debated how to bring their work in the ocean’s depths to communities on land. Sustaining the seas will require the active commitment of many more than those lucky enough to spend their days underwater surrounded by majestic reefs, after all. The Mobile Beach Clean-Up Unit was born. Each week, 100 Kuwaiti students come to a beach as part of their school day. Divers treat the students to an interactive lecture about marine biology and ocean ecosystems. students are then sent to the beach with equipment to remove rubbish, participate in an animal rescue simulation, and release live fish for population restock. The model leverages students’ love of being outdoors and competitive natures to encourage Kuwait’s young people to learn about and take better care of marine ecosystems. This session will present the story of Kuwaiti schoolchildren’s engagement with the Dive Team and engage attendees in discussions about how youth can best be integrated in this vital educational work.


A long-term study and series of awareness raising activities for marine debris reduction : Case study of participatory multi-sector approach from southern Thailand

presenting: Phusit Horpet (Marine and Coastal Resources Management Technology (CRM) program, Thailand); authors: Phusit Horpet (Marine and Coastal Resources Management Technology (CRM) program, Thailand)

This paper illustrates education programs for raising community awareness on the marine debris issues, some of which have included active learning activities with undergraduate student CRM projects since 2007. Each batch of students has hands-on experience to work with coastal communities nearby Walailak University. We have proposed 3 important days for local marine conservation, beach, and mangrove cleanup including 1) Local World Dolphin Day (14 April); 2) Local World Oceans Day (8 June); and 3) Ko Kra Archipelago Day (Local Ramsar Site) (12 August). Up until now, many events, activities, and campaigns related to research, prevention, and reduction aspects of marine debris issues have been successfully conducted on these days and throughout the year. These efforts involved many stakeholders, namely village heads, religious leaders, government officers, researchers, local administrative organizers, villagers, teachers, and especially primary school students. Outreach and education were given on the impacts of marine debris, microplastic on coastal and marine species, habitats, economic, human health and safety, and social values to encourage social behavior changes. It was expected for increasing public awareness of marine debris issues and social responsibility to mitigate these impacts. Villagers started to realize their roles in taking care of their home and surrounding environments, and the young generation has taken part in the movement towards fostering a sustainable concept of their community cleanliness. Ultimately, we try to establish a strong network with local coastal communities in marine debris management with the objective of expanding to regional and international cooperation.


Creating Marine Debris Stewards Among Low Income Youth

presenting: Dan Haifley (O’Neill Sea Odyssey, United States); authors: Dan Haifley (O’Neill Sea Odyssey, United States)

The State Water Quality Control Board, under the federal Clean Water Act, requires communities to reduce runoff pollution including marine debris – the source of 80% of ocean pollution – through tools including education for school children. O’Neill Sea Odyssey (OSO) provides stewardship education to prevent pollution from entering runoff that flows through storm drains, watersheds, and ocean. California’s future majority will be people of color, many low to moderate income, and the capacity exists to create ocean stewardship. A poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California indicated that non-white Californians were more likely than whites to perceive air pollution and climate change as serious threats, and favor fixing the problems. Applied Survey Research’s most recent evaluation of OSO’s student surveys found a majority of its students are ethnic minority and that lower-income youth “caught up” with their higher income peers in knowledge and behaviors. Joint Venture/Silicon Valley, and the Community Assessment Project for Santa Cruz County, found that low-income youth are less likely to be encouraged to become involved in their communities: to volunteer, vote, or to engage in environmental practices. Only 30% of youth said they experience a caring neighborhood; 24% have access to positive role models, and 15% felt valued by their community. Yet, 69% act on their convictions and stand up for their beliefs. Over two-thirds of these youth could become environmental and community stewards. A 2013 San Jose State University study found that 75% of students who participated in OSO 5-7 years before had retained knowledge about non-point source pollution taught by the program.


An effective University – Municipality partnership on K12 training aiming to reduce the marine litter and biodiversity loss of Mersin, Turkey

presenting: Ahmet Erkan KIDEYS (Middle East Technical University, Institute of Marine Sciences, Turkey); authors: Ahmet Erkan KIDEYS (Middle East Technical University, Institute of Marine Sciences, Turkey), Ahmet Erkan KIDEYS (Middle East Technical University), Bülent HALISDEMIR (Mersin Metropolitan Municipiality), Ali Cemal GÜCÜ (Middle East Technical University), Barış SALİHOĞLU (Middle East Technical University), Meltem OK (Middle East Technical University), Yeşim Ak ÖREK (Middle East Technical University), Kerem GÖKDAĞ (Middle East Technical University), Batuhan Çağrı YAPAN (Middle East Technical University), Merve KURT (Middle East Technical University)

“I Know and Protect My Seas” (DTK) is a marine science outreach program aiming to help reduce marine litter and biodiversity loss. It was first initiated in 2012 by the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) of the Middle East Technical University in Mersin, southern Turkey. Since 2015 it has been supported by and run in conjunction with the city of Mersin Greater Municipality. Whilst the Municipality provides transport, funding for training expenses and manages logistics of the program, Institute academic staff and personnel volunteers undertake the student training, utilizing their particular scientific knowledge, results and expertise. The program which to date has provided training to over 5000 students, aims to reach and educate a diverse range of local schoolchildren. The consequences of anthropogenic activities with particular reference to biodiversity loss and marine litter are explained through visual presentations, an interactive panel-board team game, short videos and demonstrations during a hands-on mini workshop. Students complete questionnaires at the beginning and end of the half-day training period (as well as after 1 month later) in order to evaluate levels of knowledge acquired during attendance of the “DTK” program. Preliminary analysis of responses suggests that DTK is very effective in initiating a change of behavior towards reducing littering and to appreciate biodiversity. Establishment of our University-Municipality partnership has resulted in a well organized and efficiently run DTK program thereby decreasing the workload for scientist volunteers. Such a university-municipality partnership could be a very good model for other cities throughout Turkey and abroad.