Old seafarers among us who have worked on, lived beside and taken our life’s joy from the sea get very excited about the prospects of helping students learn what we have come to know — the real value of our local marine environment.
A delightful group of middle and high school students from Ventura County came together recently to study our marine habitat, sealife, maritime industries and recreations, and then write about it all so they could share what they learned with other youths.
The students called themselves the Big Blue Reporters, and together they created a wonderful publication they named Current Times (note the play on the word “current,” referring to oceanic currents) with a lede title of “Santa Barbara Channel Treasures.”
I encourage you to gather some children about you and your computer, and then click here to enjoy the online version. You will all be much richer culturally, and probably considerably wiser, after reading Current Times.
Here’s the story of the Big Blue Reporters.
Thanks to a collaborative program — the Marine Resources Journalism Academy 2008, a team effort of the Ventura County Sea Grant Extension and 4-H Youth Development programs of the University of California Cooperative Extension — the students, under the direction of marine adviser Carolynn Culver and 4-H program supervisor Susan Gloeckler, explored the local marine environment and the people who depend upon it now and in the past.
During their journey, they uncovered many cultural and economic treasures provided by the Santa Barbara Channel marine region. Through field trips and hands-on activities, the students learned about the value of the marine environment to local coastal communities, including not only to marine resource users, managers and scientists but also Native Americans (Chumash).
Their experiences were logged and combined in a supplemental publication titled Current Times: Treasures of Our Local Ocean. The Big Blue Reporters covered an impressive and educational array of topics:
» The local marine environment
» Commercial and sport fishing
» Nonwater-based ocean businesses (art, music, literature)
» Offshore oil development
» Other ocean-related recreation (boating, surfing, diving)
» Working waterfronts
» Ocean stewardship
In addition to the articles, the Big Blue Reporters came up with fun facts and various activities (word searches and mazes) to assist readers with learning more about our local marine treasures. Altogether it makes for fascinating reading at any age, and it makes for a great educational tool for youngsters learning about the ocean and about what it means to live by the sea and care for the overall health of our marine region.
So find a child, open an Internet browser and enjoy.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.