The Single Word I Taught First Graders in Cuba

Cuban countrysideAt a rural Cuban elementary school nestled in the verdant mountains west of Havana, I approached the front of the class and queued up my best Spanish. The first-graders looked at me with puzzled anticipation — they don’t see many Americans entering their classroom, let alone U.S. visitors who try to get up and teach. But as soon as it was clear we were going to talk about the oceans, its was all smiles and excited participation, as if salt water is the universal language we all share and treasure.

I told the students that our lesson was about a single word: Orgulloso. It means “proud.” I told the students that they should sentirse orgulloso” — feel proud, and then I showed them why. Carrying my laptop around the class, I showed recent videos I had taken in Cuba’s pristine ocean waters of healthy corals, sharks, goliath groupers, tarpon and, to especially loud shrieks of delight, sea turtles.

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VIDEO: Ocean Doctor’s Birthday Message 2011

5th Period at the Bottom of New York Harbor

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May 23, 2011: It’s a high school like no other, where you might be growing oysters during 3rd period and spend 5th period scuba diving at the bottom of New York Harbor.  The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is a public high school whose mission is “built upon New York City’s maritime experience that instills in its students both the ethics and skills of stewardship.” We’re joined by three students from the school — Patricia Tapia, Florence Bloomfield, and Cesar Gutierrez — who will make you laugh, and touch your heart with inspiration while giving us all an important lesson about what motivates young students and what makes for an exceptional educational experience today. The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes. Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook! Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below. Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more…]

Is the Next Generation Ready for the Next Generation of Challenges?

A wonderful visit to Golden Gate Elementary School, Naples, Florida

A wonderful visit to Golden Gate Elementary School, Naples, Florida

A decade or so ago, an article appeared in the Palm Beach Post quoting me as saying, “The leaders we have to reach are in diapers today.” I was referring to the largest environmental restoration project in history — the Everglades — and the fact it would take unwavering dedication and stewardship over decades to ensure its success. (I was speaking in my former role as president of The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and co-chair of the Everglades Coalition.) I suppose those once-diapered kids I was referring to are now in elementary school, which is why I was intrigued to hear explorer Scott W. Hamilton, speaking at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner last year, state that “the next commander of a manned mission to Mars is in elementary school today.” The daunting challenges ahead of humanity — whether restoring ecosystems, saving coral reefs, battling climate change or holding the first handful of red sand on Mars — are decades-long efforts that can’t rest on the shoulders of a single generation. So is the next generation more ready than we were to take on such challenges? I’m in the process of finding out. [Read more…]

Why Saving the Gulf of Mexico Starts in Ohio

The Ocean Doctor on WebTalkRadio.net

November 1, 2010: For many of us in the 48 continental United States, what we do in our own back yard can directly impact what happens in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 40 percent of the continental United States — and even a small portion of Canada — drains into the Mississippi river and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. We visit central Ohio where the Licking County Soil & Water Conservation District is helping its community restore and protect its natural lands, farmlands and waters while also helping countless communities downstream, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Learn about rain gardens and rain barrels and how all of us can work together to make our back yards more beautiful and our communities — and the Gulf of Mexico — more healthy and vibrant.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

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Genesee High School (Genesee, MI)

Genesee High School (Genesee, MI)

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Jackson Liberty High School (Jackson, NJ)

Jackson Liberty High School (Jackson, NJ)

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Seagate Elementary (Naples, FL)

Seagate Elementary (Naples, FL)

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Golden Gate Elementary (Naples, FL)

Golden Gate Elementary (Naples, FL)

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50 Years, 50 States, 50 Stitches

I don’t feel my age, I certainly don’t act my age, and I’m delighted when people tell me I don’t look my age. But the 35,000 air miles I’ve logged since the beginning of the year have taken an unexpected toll that a younger me might have been able to simply shrug off. It’s in these circumstances that a Medical Doctor overrides an Ocean Doctor, and my orthopedic surgeon was clear with me that if I was going to be able to shed my wool suit for a wetsuit for our next Cuba expedition in June 2009, I would need to listen, obey, and lie still.

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