By Dr. Elaine Leung, Founder & Educator, Sea Smart
I’ve been working as a marine biologist for over 15 years around the world studying threatened species for various governments, universities, and NGOs. When I finished my PhD, I realized that over 30 of the species that I’ve worked or interacted with will go extinct. I felt upset, jaded, and a bit depressed (and many more sad emotions as you can imagine). Unwilling to accept defeat, I decided to tackle a new challenge: Let’s educate and inspire kids to love our oceans, and maybe they can convince their (sometimes stubborn) parents to take on actions to help our oceans! So I started up Sea Smart to teach kids cool things about our oceans and how we can help in our after school programs, summer camps at the beach, and school workshops.
You have to understand, this was completely unchartered waters for me. I’m a marine biologist who was enroute to becoming a university professor. I’ve supervised grad students and taught undergrad students. But screaming, wriggly, impatient little kids? C’mon, how difficult can it be?
I can definitely tell you my students have taught and inspired me so much more than I could have ever imagined. And I’m truly convinced that kids will be the ones who will champion the cause to protect our environment. As educators, all we have to do is spark their love for nature and help them foster a connection with the environment.
I wanted to showcase a few particular ocean superheroes whom I’ve had the absolute pleasure of teaching. I’m blown away by the amount of knowledge they’ve retained from our programs, and how they’re really changing how things are being done at home!
Naomi, 6 years old, won’t let her parents use any single use plastics at home anymore. What’s even more incredible is that for her sixth birthday, she asked everyone to give donations to Raincoast Foundation instead of receiving presents!
Abdullah, 6 years old, is getting his family to go on weekly beach outings and inspiring his family to love and appreciate our ocean!
Alexa, 8 years old, is a true ocean champion who even wrote and choreographed a catchy song to ask others to stop using plastic! She’s on a quest to make educational posters informing her schoolmates and communities how to protect our oceans.
Rui Xuan, 8 years old, is so passionate about ocean conservation that she won’t let her parents go on the ferry because of all the underwater noise it creates. We never told our students that they couldn’t use boats, but it never ceases to amaze me how kids come up with creative solutions to big environmental problems.
Jackson, 5 years old, insists that his family only eat sustainable seafood and won’t let his parents buy products containing microbeads.
Gia, 7 years old, is getting her parents to only use ocean-friendly cleaning products at home, while Mia, 9 years old, is convincing her schoolmates to use reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles.
The next time you have a seemingly insurmountable problem, enlist some kid superheroes to help you tackle the challenge! Kids have the superpower to turn small ripples of awareness into big waves of change!
Dr. Elaine Leung, or Dr. E as she’s known to her students, is a marine biologist who empowers youth to be environmental champions. After over 15 years of researching threatened marine animals around the world, including places like Alaska, Antarctica, BC, Hawaii, and New Zealand, she realized that kids were losing their connection with nature and were becoming increasingly attached to their phones, tablets, tvs, etc. Dr. E knew this was a problem because you only protect what you love. She founded Sea Smart to get kids excited about our oceans through fun, hands-on school workshops, after school programs, and summer camps. Through Sea Smart’s programs, students are inspired to love and respect our oceans and understand the roles they can play in protecting our planet. Through practical solutions and the latest information, kids get to see how even their smallest actions can make a huge impact on the world around them. seasmartschool.com