COSEE Educators at NMEA - 07.25.2008

Visiting Savannah, Georgia in the middle of July did not seem like the smartest thing to do, but it turns out that people from all over the world also felt like thumbing their noses at ninety-degree temperatures and 80-90 percent humidity. Wading through a southern summer for the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) conference was indeed worth it, since it gave me the chance to experience a beautiful city, meet people as quirky and willing to talk about the ocean as I am, and to frolic in the Gulf Stream.

COSEE had a real presence at the meeting, including sponsoring 11 educators from around the country to attend. (Six from South East, two from Coastal Trends, and one each from Ocean Systems, Great Lakes and New England.) I wanted to know what the teachers who are connected to our program thought about their experiences (both at NMEA and as a part of COSEE). Ask and you shall receive, as the saying goes. I even had one amazing lady send me a report right as she got home from a vacation! This may seem atypical, but as I read the responses from the teachers there seemed to be a common thread: they are as enthusiastic as any sports fan.

COSEE is about catalytic interactions. We put scientists in touch with educators, teachers in touch with teachers, students in touch with researchers, east in touch with west. Over and over, COSEE teachers talked about how excited and grateful they are for these interactions. Here are some of their comments:

"I have never been to NMEA but know that the contacts I made there will aid my teaching. My students have greatly benefited from all that I have developed or received from my COSEE experience." (Angela Ward)

"This conference allowed me to learn a great deal and network with other marine educators. I am so grateful to my sponsoring organization, COSEE-OS, for introducing me to NMEA and allowing me the opportunity to participate in this national conference, which will surely be one of the highlights of my summer!" (Beth Campbell)

"I would encourage them [educators] to go and I would encourage them to become involved with COSEE programs. They are probably the most diverse training I have had while still being under the oceans and ocean literacy umbrella. Kudos to you all!!" (Kathy Bosiak)

The ideas and products that are generated by simply introducing one person to another have far-reaching impacts. Teachers from the south can visit and learn about the Great Lakes; teachers from Maine can put their students in touch with research conducted all around the world; and teachers who may have never attended a scientific conference before can walk up to world experts and ask questions - and get answers!

NMEA Savannah was a chance for COSEE teachers to show off their accomplishments, to learn about new opportunities, to introduce our world, and to realize that there is still a ton of knowledge out there ready to be digested, understood and then taught to others. Some of these teachers come to COSEE with years of experience, while others come fresh out of credential programs. But they all have a desire to improve themselves and, in so doing, improve the quality of the education that they give their students. And if they can do this in a city as beautiful as Savannah, Georgia, well, then they are willing to take one for their team.

Contributed by Jane Lee

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