On October 7, youth volunteers from the Seattle Aquarium and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (PDZA) co-hosted the third Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (YOCS) Puget Sound at PDZA. Seventy-five young conservationists came together to plan their own conservation projects to lead in their communities. Planning for the event is led by a select team of volunteers from the Aquarium and PDZA. Below is a reflection from Emilie, a Youth Ocean Advocate and planning team member, about her experience working to plan and host the event.
“This was my first year on the planning team for the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, a youth-planned conference for other local middle and high school students to learn the skills to create and implement their own unique conservation projects in their communities. Participants attend different workshops throughout the day by professionals who cover topics related to conservation, such as social media and marketing, or consumer advocacy and outreach. They also get the opportunity to collaborate with one another and hear from teens who have already successfully completed their own projects. Participants leave with action plans for their projects and can apply for grants to help fund them.
“I worked with other Youth Ocean Advocates from the Seattle Aquarium and teens from the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium to organize this event. We started working on it way back in April, six months before the conference. At first it was a challenge to communicate with the other teens from PDZA, but we made it work by busing down a few times, and lots of emailing back and forth. After coming to an agreement on the topics we wanted to cover, we split the work evenly between us. The hardest part was securing speakers for the workshops. I sent out a lot of emails and reached out to a lot of people. In the end, our hard work paid off with amazing speakers.
“When I found out about this opportunity last December, I didn’t really know what I was in for. I didn’t expect to meet so many other inspiring teens and professionals, or have as much fun planning it. I look forward to reading over the grant applications and hearing about the new projects the participants are starting.”
-Emilie P., Youth Ocean Advocate and YOCS planning team member