Celebration of the Sea Foundation Launches International Interactive Educational & Conservation Exchange Program in the United States & Mexico, in Collaboration with Monroe County Schools
International Sister Cities Exchange Program Features Leading Scientists, Teachers, Students & Conservation Organizations
The Celebration of the Sea Foundation has announced the launch of the “Ocean Heroes” international interactive educational and conservation exchange program which features a unique global public-private partnership between leading scientific, educational and conservation organizations. A major focus of the program is placed on highlighting extraordinary ocean conservation role models and respective jobs and career paths for students in STREAM (Science, Technology, Resiliency, Engineering, Arts & Math), Eco-Tourism, Fisheries, Hospitality and the Marine Industries. An additional key goal of each program is to bring public attention to critically important environmental issues, while engaging, educating, and inspiring children and their families to help protect and ensure the sustained well-being of marine animals and their respective habitats. The initial Ocean Heroes pilot program kick-off was announced during an official press conference held at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo, Florida at 2:00 PM on Monday, April 24, 2023. The Press Conference was broadcast live on Monroe County Television (MCTV), Channel 76 on Comcast, Channel 99 on AT&T U-verse, Hotwire Fision TV Channel 1615, Roku and Amazon FireTV. The event was co-hosted by the Celebration of the Sea Foundation Board of Directors along with Monroe County Government officials and a wide variety of leading education, conservation and research organizations. Ten Mexican “Ocean Heroes” Ambassadors from the “Sister City” of Cancún, Mexico were welcomed during the ceremony. The following day a coral restoration dive was conducted which departed from the Mote Marine Lab Islamorada Coral Nursery at Bud N’ Mary’s Marina and was lead by I.CARE About Corals with the Ocean Heroes partnering US and Mexican scientific, educational and conservation organizations. The Ocean Heroes program features in-school enrichment programs and state-of-the-art, live-streamed interactive broadcasts. Both are complemented by pre-recorded video content, produced by the Celebration of the Sea Foundation, in collaboration with select US and Mexican based educational, conservation and research organizations. The initial schools selected to pilot the program are Treasure Village Montessori School in Islamorada, The Academy At Ocean Reef in Key Largo, The Ocean Studies Charter School in Key Largo and the Sugarloaf School in Summerland Key, Florida. The Leonardo Da Vinci Schools in Cancún, Mexico, which are officially certified as Cambridge International Bilingual educational institutions, have been selected as the initial international “Sister City” educational locations. The Ocean Heroes program provides direct access to a broad range of international thought leaders who serve as extraordinary role models for students and teachers in a wide variety of key subject areas. These include marine plastics and their direct impact on marine ecosystems, marine animal rescue and protection, fish species identification and population studies, endangered and invasive species, civic leadership and governance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This program showcases critically important habitat conservation and restoration efforts that are currently underway including coral reefs and mangroves while highlighting their direct interconnectedness with Everglades National Park, the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and Cenotes in Mexico.
The ten Mexican “Ocean Heroes” ambassadors participating in the initial exchange program, were selected for their extensive expertise in education, conservation, research and community leadership. The Mexican delegation’s visit officially kicked-off the pilot of the program which was conducted between April 23-26, 2023, in the Florida Keys. The ambassadors were sponsored by the Celebration of the Sea Foundation, and include: Tania Fernandez Moreno, Director of Ecology, Benito Juarez; Roberto Ibarra, the Department Chief of the Isla Mujeres National Park; Rafael De La Parra, the Executive Director of Ch’ooj Ajauil and one of the world’s preeminent whale shark scientists; Gisela Maldonado Saldana, the Special Projects Consultant for Amigos de Isla Contoy National Park; Alexa Marguia Trujillo, Public Relations Manager for the Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council; Daniel Rodriguez, the Founder & Director of Snorkel 4 Trash; Juan Carlos Bonilla Director of Popular Cinema; and Leonardo Da Vinci American Institute schools representatives: Guillermo Zepeda Navarro, Sr., the Principal, Guillermo Zepeda Servín, Jr. the Assistant Principal, and Ana Romina Mendiola Urostegui, Middle School Director. The program’s Sister City of Benito Juarez Mexico, has already extended an invitation to sponsor a reciprocal US Ocean Heroes ambassadors’ trip to Mexico which will be conducted later in the year and will include a group of Monroe County educators, scientists, conservation organizations and community leaders.
“We’re thrilled to be able to collaborate with all of these amazing organizations to bring such an exciting and unique educational program to our students and teachers,” said Monroe County, City of Layton Mayor and Celebration of the Sea Foundation Treasurer, Bruce Halle. “This is an outstanding opportunity to work together to make a major difference in education and conservation, and we’re so proud that our Monroe County Schools have been selected to pilot the roll-out of this extraordinary, international program.” The United States Welcoming Committee, who lead the first phase of the pilot’s international collaboration included: Patxi Pastor the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Celebration of the Sea Foundation; Mayor Bruce Halle who serves as the Celebration of the Sea Foundation’s Treasurer; Dr. Cindy Lewis the Director of the Keys Marine Lab at Florida Institute of Oceanography and member of the Celebration of the Sea Foundation’s Board of Directors; Frazier Nivens the Founder and CEO of Ocean Imaging and member of the Celebration of the Sea Foundation’s Board of Directors; Tommy DiGiorgio the Co-Owner and Vice-Chairman of Sterling Spoon Culinary Management and member of the Celebration of the Sea Foundation’s Board of Directors; Treasure Village Principal, Kelly Mangel and Assistant Principal, Kristin Brucia; Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder’s Founder, Art Cooper, President & Chair, Nancy Cooper, and their Director of Education at Dolphins Plus Bayside, Marylou Wright; along with iCare About Coral Co-Founders, Dr. Kylie Smith and Mike Goldberg.
The “Ocean Heroes” educational series is being made possible through the generous support of public donations along with the Celebration of the Sea Foundation, BRIGHTMARK, State Farm Companies Foundation, The Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate Company, Dolphin Point Villas, Lime Tree Bay Resort, Ocean Imaging, The Hewitt Family, Patxi Pastor and Jim and Rachael Solomon, in addition to Audacy, Inc., Southern Hospitality Concessions and REVERB, who donated a percentage of the proceeds of reusable water bottle sales sold during last year’s Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale. The festival’s fundraising initiative was planned and implemented by REVERB and the Celebration of the Sea Foundation, which continues to serve each year as the event’s official charity and conservation partner for Audacy, promoting ocean conservation and sustainability to the public.
“We are thrilled by the announcement of the Ocean Heroes program and excited to collaborate and participate as one of the official sponsors to help fund this amazing international initiative. We believe change happens at the intersection of action, optimism and education and look forward to continuing to support this mission with an emphasis on solutions for plastics” said Bob Powell, Founder and CEO at Brightmark. “We’re so grateful for the generous and ongoing support of the public and all of our amazing sponsors who make our international educational initiatives possible,” said Patxi Pastor, Founder, Chairman & CEO of the Celebration of the Sea Foundation. “Having created and implemented marine science education programs for almost forty years now, I’ve never been more excited about such a unique exchange between countries. Continuing to collaborate on incredible educational and conservation initiatives like this, with such special partners who share our values and vision, speaks directly to the power of how public-private partnerships can truly make an enormous impact to protect our oceans and raise the next generation of ocean ambassadors.” Leading the green music movement since 2004, REVERB partners with artists, festivals, and venues to reduce their environmental footprint, while empowering millions of fans to take action on today’s most pressing environmental issues. REVERB has greened over 350 tours & 6,000 concert events, eliminated 280,000+ tons of CO2e, prevented the use of over 4 million single-use plastic bottles, and is the Official Music and Public Engagement Partner of the United Nations Environment Programme. Leading REVERB artists include Dave Matthews, Billie Eilish, Phish, Jack Johnson and Dead & Company. “We’re thrilled to continue partnering with the Celebration of the Sea Foundation and its educational and conservation partners,” said Tanner Watt, REVERB’s Director of Partnerships. “It’s wonderful to know that the funds we raised are helping the Celebration of the Sea Foundation support these incredible teachers and schools to engage and inspire the next generation of marine conservation.” Through its year-round 1Thing initiative, Audacy incentivizes people to make simple changes in their daily habits to protect the environment. By combining these actions, Audacy hopes to make a meaningful, positive impact on our planet’s ecosystem for future generations. “These terrific, collaborative partnerships help us to scale up and amplify our mission to promote easy, sustainable practices to live healthier lifestyles,” said Chad Fitzsimmons, Senior Vice President Promotions and Experiences, Audacy. “We were honored to team up with great organizations such as the Celebration of the Sea Foundation and its partners to help ensure our future generations can help to protect our oceans.” For more information about how your school can participate in the Celebration of the Sea Foundation’s Ocean Heroes program or to become an official corporate or philanthropic sponsor to support our amazing students and teachers please contact Info@CelebrationOfTheSea.org. Public donations can be made by clicking here. About Audacy: Audacy, Inc. (NYSE: AUD) is a leading multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with the country’s best collection of local music, news and sports brands, a premium podcast creator, major event producer, and digital innovator. Audacy engages 200 million consumers each month, bringing people together around content that matters to them. About REVERB: Leading the green music movement since 2004, REVERB (REVERB.org) partners with artists, festivals, and venues to reduce their environmental footprint while empowering millions of fans to take action on today’s most pressing environmental issues. Working with artist partners like Billie Eilish, Maroon 5, P!nk, Harry Styles, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson and many more, REVERB has greened over 350 tours & 6,000 concert events, eliminated 280,000+ tons of CO2e, prevented the use of over 4 million single-use plastic bottles, and is the Official Music and Public Engagement Partner of the United Nations Environment Program.