Focus Session: “Quest for the Coast” Game App

“Quest for the Coast” Game App: Creating new perspectives in messaging by partnering with dissimilar organizations.

David Niebuhr Ph.D., VP for Education, Audubon Nature Institute

The New Orleans Pelicans, NBA basketball team and Audubon Nature Institute have begun to work together to teach people about the importance of coastal wetlands and habitats. The NBA Pelicans are serious about helping our coasts while Audubon Nature Institute reaches more than 2,000,000 visitors/year through their properties and programs devoted to helping people celebrate the wonders of nature. In an attempt to harness the popularity of the Pelicans NBA franchise and the educational expertise of Audubon Nature Institute staff, each organization has reached beyond its typical comfort zone to create the “Quest for the Coast” Game app. Through a grant from Chevron, the Pelicans hired a game maker to create the “flappy birds” mimic. Audubon supplied the wetlands facts, challenges and opportunities. In this presentation, David Niebuhr, VP for Education at Audubon Nature Institute will discuss the Pelicans – Audubon partnership; will share some of the challenges and opportunities of working with a for-profit, publicity-savvy corporation; and will entertain questions about internal, corporate resistance to out-of-the-box thinking in non-profit organizations. (To download the app, search the app store for “New Orleans Pelicans.” Once you download and open the app search the upper left hand corner of the page for the pull down list. There will then be a listing for “play Quest for the Coast.” This will open the game app.)

David Niebuhr
Dr. David Niebuhr


Speaker Biography

Dr. David H. Niebuhr is the Vice President for Education at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans and prides himself on being a lifelong teacher. He earned his Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 1999 where he studied the lipid biochemistry of hard coral under changing environmental conditions. Prior to his current position, Dr. Niebuhr was the Executive Director of the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, Virginia where his team was recognized as the only museum in Virginia creating hands-on educational programming for people with special learning needs – a severely underserved audience. Dr. Niebuhr came to the Watermen’s Museum from a position as Vice President of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium where he led a team that provided educational programming for more than 100,000 students each year in addition to providing educational exhibits for 400,000 annual visitors to the Mote Aquarium. He has a broad background as an educator having worked as a high school teacher, a college professor, and as a field-based educator. Dr. Niebuhr is known for his enthusiastic and engaging style with his students and subject matter. His reputation as a teacher lead him to be selected to develop and teach science education programs as part of a joint US-China program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and he serves as the education and outreach expert on NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative National Advisory Panel. Dr. Niebuhr is a physical biologist and ecologist whose work in curriculum development has received national recognition, including an internet-based project with WHRO Telecommunications that was featured in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Annual Report. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of TALL SHIP AMERICA, America’s Freedom Sailor, and on the Editorial Board for Current: The Journal of Marine Education.


Dr Niebuhr has been instrumental in incorporating business strategies into the development of educational and free choice programming. He developed a market analysis program for the NOAA NERRS program and was instrumental in the formation of the NERRS Coastal Training Initiative which resulted in a $7 million annual increase in federal funding for the NERRS.


In addition to his work in science, history, and education, Dr. Niebuhr has varied experience in business management and media production. Despite the absence of fingers on his right hand, Dr. Niebuhr has maintained a 25 year career as a guitarist and stage performer and created a successful talent agency specializing in providing historical musicians, dancers, and street performers for historical sites and business theater events. He is a coastal and blue-water sailor, and has served as an on-camera personality in many science and non-science programs.



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