Focus Session: Hot Topics in Ocean Literacy and Marine Science

Hot Topics in Ocean Literacy and Marine Science

Eating our Fleece
Building Climate Resilience

Topic 1: Rachael Miller, We are eating our Fleece, Microfiber Pollution and Solutions

You probably just ate some of your foul weather gear or a bit of fleece jacket! Our clothes are breaking up and flowing into our public waterways. In this session, you will see your clothing up close and learn about an emerging microplastic problem, one that will likely prove to be the biggest plastic pollution problem facing our oceans, lakes and rivers – and a solution developed by Rozalia project.

Captain Rachael Miller
Captain Rachael Miller

Rachael Miller is the co-founder/Director of the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean whose mission is to develop and implement solutions for a clean and healthy ocean through innovation, education, cleanup and research from aboard American Promise a Ted Hood 60’ and dockside locations across the country. She is a member of the US Sailing Training Committee, is a Level 1 and 2 Instructor Trainer and holds a USCG 50 ton Master’s license. She was co-founder of the first ROV-supported shipwreck tour company in North America and works with ROV manufacturer, VideoRay to train ROV pilots. Rachael’s background is in marine studies and underwater archaeology which she studied at Brown University. She lives in Vermont and loves to ski as much as sail.

Topic 2: Tiffany Smythe, Building Climate Resilience in Rhode Island’s Coastal Communities (Or, No Problem Is Too Big for Little Rhody)

Seven feet of sea level rise by 2100 – this is one of the highest credible projections for the impacts of climate change on Newport, Rhode Island, and the one that the state of Rhode Island is using to plan for its future. Climate change can seem like an overwhelming problem – both to explain and to solve – yet it’s arguably the most critical issue facing our ocean and coastal ecosystems, communities and economies. This talk will highlight some of the ways that the smallest state in the nation has taken on this big problem, touching on some of the latest climate science, Rhode Island’s work to make communities like Newport more resilient to these changes, and the state’s success in reducing fossil fuel emissions through the development of the Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind energy development. We’ll touch on facts and case studies you can share with your students and crew to help them understand not only what is happening but what they can do to help.

Tiffany Smythe
Dr. Tiffany Smythe

Dr. Tiffany Smythe is a coastal management specialist at the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program and an adjunct professor in the URI Department of Marine Affairs. She specializes in offshore renewable energy, climate resilience, marine spatial planning, ecosystem-based management, and marine transportation and recreation. She was one of the principal co-authors of the RI Ocean Special Area Management Plan, which led to the siting of the Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind energy development. Tiffany started at URI as a graduate student, earning Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Marine Affairs. She worked at CRC/RI Sea Grant as a grad student, and later went on to work in the non-profit, academic, government and consulting sectors with organizations including the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Sea Education Association and the New York Harbor Foundation, before returning to URI. Prior to her career in Marine Affairs, Tiffany earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Columbia University and worked in sail training and education, sailing as crew and teaching staff aboard training ships including the Lettie G. Howard, Spirit of Massachusetts, Harvey Gamage, and Pioneer. She holds a 100-ton Master’s License and is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and the URI Coastal Institute.

Topic 3: Shelley Brown, Are you trying to teach marine science on a shoestring budget? Try KELP

Sailors for the Sea is the leading ocean conservation organization that engages, educates, inspires and activates the sailing and boating community in the worldwide protection of the ocean. The objective of one of our core programs, KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) is to educate children about ocean health issues. Beyond simply conveying information, the program takes additional steps to provide the crucial link between knowledge and action so that children will have the background, resources and sense of purpose necessary to take make a difference.

KELP are fun, environmentally-minded and solution-oriented lesson plans created with informal educators in mind. Whether you are on a dock, a boat, or on land – these lesson plans can be easily taught with minimal preparation and simple materials found at the marina, in a household or at a grocery store. Currently, we have 41 modules that address important ocean health topics including sea level rise, overfishing, ocean acidification and plastic pollution. We will show you how fun and easy it is to teach with KELP with a live demonstration.

Shelley Brown is the education director for the global ocean conservation organization, Sailors for the Sea. Their mission is to engage, educate and activate the sailing and boating community about ocean health issues. A native Rhode Islander, Shelley has always been interested in the interactions between humans and our ocean. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Rhode Island, researching how increases in water temperature, hypoxia, and other anthropogenic-induced environmental conditions impact nitrogen cycling microbes in estuaries and coastal ecosystems. Following her PhD, Shelley pursued her passion of educating the public, particularly youth, about ocean conservation and health issues. Before joining Sailors for the Sea, she was a member of the education team on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and the program director of the Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI). She hopes to inspire people to learn about and care for the ocean, so they are empowered to become the next generation of ocean stewards.




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