NOAA 2004-R400
Contact: Kent Laborde
NOAA News Releases 2004
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Nation’s students convene to learn, present ocean concerns to top administrators

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sponsoring the first-ever National Student Summit on Ocean Issues at its Science Center in Silver Spring, Md., Jan. 14-16. Coastal America, a federal agency partnership, in cooperation with the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center network, is hosting the summit for nearly 100 top high school students and their teachers from around the nation. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Other sponsors include the National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Executive Office of the President, Consortium for Oceanographic Research & Education, National Ocean Industries Association, Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, and the Coastal America Foundation.

The objective of this first-of-its-kind event is to encourage a greater interest in ocean science and build ocean-related educational resources that can be implemented in primary-education curriculum. Student participants have researched regional and national ocean policy issues and are synthesizing them into a central national policy paper that they will present to top-level administrators and decision makers.

“Our planet’s oceans are a rich, diverse and amazingly interesting resource,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Just as oceans are essential for transportation, human health and our nation’s economy, it is an important source of information for educating our youth. Teachers can engage students and encourage a greater interest in math and science by using the fascinating activities within our oceans as a backdrop for these subjects.”

Ocean-related industry leaders and representatives of the Bush Administration will attend the summit to hear student presentations and review their recommendations. In addition to Lautenbacher, also attending will be James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Sam Bodman, deputy secretary of commerce; P. Lynn Scarlet, assistant secretary of interior for policy, management and budget; Timothy R.E. Keeney, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans; and members of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

“The best part of this summit is the enthusiasm and commitment to ocean protection that these bright young people possess,” said Virginia K. Tippie, director of Coastal America. “These are some of our nation’s top students who have worked extremely hard to prepare for this Summit by interacting with regional experts back in their home states. The thought-provoking presentations and recommendations make me feel optimistic about the future of our oceans.”

The summit is a culmination of an ongoing program that has included 12 regional summits conducted at individual aquaria that are members of the network of Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers. The individual CELC summits were supported by Coastal America and the National Geographic Society. The National Student Ocean Issues Summit will bring together students to present their region’s research and the most pressing ocean issues to science and policy experts in government.

“National Geographic is proud to support this unique learning experience,” said Barbara Chow, vice president of education and children’s programs. “It will give these students one of the most important tools they need to be stewards of the environment: the understanding that they can make a difference.”

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources. (

Coastal America is a partnership among federal, state and local government and private alliances to address environmental problems along our nation’s coasts. It includes the Departments of: Agriculture, Agriculture, Air Force, Army, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Navy, State, and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Executive Office of the President. (

The Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center Network creates a partnership between the federal government and fifteen marine education centers to improve public understanding of the coastal environment. The network includes: Alaska SeaLife Center, Aquarium of the Pacific, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Florida Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Mystic Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, New England Aquarium, New York Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium, south Carolina Aquarium, Texas State Aquarium and Waikiki Aquarium. (

Note: Reporters are invited to attend most portions of the summit. Please contact NOAA or Coastal America to arrange coverage and interviews of speakers or student participants.


Wednesday, Jan. 14

10:30 a.m. to 3:30pm Individual Student Presentations to Scientific Experts
Location: NOAA Science Center, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Md.

7:00 p.m. Keynote: Dr. Donald Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Location: National Aquarium of Baltimore

Thursday, Jan. 15

11:00 a.m. to noon Students Consolidate Ocean Concerns & Experts Respond
Location: NOAA Science Center, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Md.

4:00 p.m. Selected students present consolidated issues to top policymakers
Location: National Geographic Society

7:00 a.m. Keynote presentation, Greg Marshall, Crittercam Project Director
Location: National Geographic Society

Friday, Jan. 16: Closed to media.