Last night at the Vancouver Aquarium, teachers, principals, educators and teacher candidates filled the immersive galleries of the Ocean Wise initiative. Teacher Appreciation Night celebrates the integral part educators play in developing the ocean champions of tomorrow. Guests explored the magic of the quiet Aquarium after dark, won prizes and shared stories from the dying days of summer break.
“Last night was a truly unique and special experience that brought together inspiring leaders from the education world, united by a passion for educating youth and conserving our ocean. We work with a diverse group of individuals and organizations who each play pivotal roles in developing students into stewards. This night was about saying thanks to our community partners,” says James Bartram, vice-president of education and youth at Ocean Wise. “It was a full house and the perfect way to kick off another school year.”
The event included an award ceremony, with awards presented by Clint Johnston, B.C. Teachers Foundation Second Vice-President, TJ Schmaltz, chair of the Ocean Wise Education committee, and Scott MacDonald, Deputy Minister of Education, British Columbia.
“I am pleased to be part of an event that celebrates the dedication of education professionals who go above and beyond to help students forge strong connections with the natural world. Today’s students will be the environmental stewards of tomorrow and the educators honoured here tonight are working hard to instill the values that will ensure our environment is in good hands,” says Deputy Minister MacDonald.
The three categories honoured individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to environmental education in the last academic year:
The Ocean Educator Award is for an individual who has shown exceptional leadership in developing or delivering education programs and opportunities about ocean health. The 2018 award went to Judith MacPherson, who taught at False Creek Elementary School and retired this past June. Twice a year for the last 17 years, Judith has organized two Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups for her students and fostered a hands-on learning experience to protecting our waterways.
The Ocean Education Collaboration Award honours individuals or organizations that demonstrate the importance of effective relationships and collaboration within and across sectors and disciplines to bring awareness to ocean health and conservation. The 2018 award was given to SD71 (Comox Valley), Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre, Passage Adventures and multiple other school boards.
These organizations came together to run a five-day, four-night all-girls camp focusing on developing students’ understanding of ocean literacy and ecology through leadership programs and outdoor adventures like paddle boarding and hiking. Lucy Graham and Mathilde Gordon of Passage Adventures also visited the camp on their single-use plastic-free journey from Alaska to Vancouver Island.
The Ocean Education Organization Award recognizes an organization that has demonstrated creativity, innovation and reach in contributing to a healthy and flourishing ocean. Last night, the Students on Ice Foundation took home the 2018 award for the Canada C3 Expedition.
Canada C3 was an epic 150-day sailing journey from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage and a Signature Project for Canada 150. Through multimedia and digital platforms, they shared the stories of people they met en route and engaged the voices of all Canadians in national discussions covering Canada C3’s key themes: Diversity and Inclusion, Reconciliation, Youth Engagement and the Environment. They extended the learnings onboard by hosting 30 web conferences and virtual expeditions along their journey.