Oregon Coast Aquarium Looks to Future, Honors Past
(Newport, Oregon) - From the day it opened in 1992, the Oregon Coast Aquarium has been a relentless champion for the interests of coastal and marine environments in the Pacific Northwest.
On May 7, the staff, board and supporters of the nonprofit paused to recognize the Aquarium’s own stewards during the annual Ocean Steward Celebration at NW Natural headquarters in Portland. At the event, the board inaugurated a new honor, the Al Gleason Ocean Steward Award.
“As the Aquarium approaches its 25th anniversary, it is important to acknowledge the individuals who made the Aquarium possible,” said Caryl Zenker, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Development who organizes the event and developed the Award.
Aquarium board emeritus member and retired CEO of PacificCorp Al Gleason, for whom the award was named, personally selected Mark Collson as the honoree. Collson has served as a guardian and supporter of the Aquarium since its inception, but his role during one of its most difficult eras set him apart.
“Without Mark’s commitment and encouragement, we could never have put the Aquarium back on its feet in 2001,” Gleason said. “His dedicated work and knowledge of the local community rekindled the enthusiastic support that allowed us to once again thrive and continue being in the forefront of ocean stewardship.”
Collson, a lifelong Newport resident, described his work with the nonprofit as a service to his hometown. “It’s about the Aquarium, but it’s also about community for me. The Aquarium put Newport on the map in a variety of ways and that’s a good thing,” he said.
The idea for the Aquarium sprung from a collective goal to promote Newport as a tourism destination, and eventually enrolled the support Senator Mark Hatfield, Gerry Frank, and other community and statewide leaders. When he reflected on those early days, Collson said, “We never imagined the idea would grow into the treasure we have now.”
The Aquarium commissioned a bronze sculpin from Oregon Coast artist Frank Boyden to commemorate the award. Boyden, who is noted for creating art that reflects the environment, created the bronze sculptures that have graced the Aquarium’s courtyard since it opened, and the animal-inspired door pulls that are spread throughout the facility.
The Aquarium intends to put its community on the state and national stage again later this month when it unveils the new exhibit, Secrets of Shipwrecks: Part History. Part Mystery.
The evening’s keynote address detailed the challenges of underwater archaeology in the Pacific Northwest through the first-hand experiences of Jerry Ostermiller, Director Emeritus of the Columbia River Maritime Museum and Maritime Historian.
The Ocean Steward Celebration is an annual event the Oregon Coast Aquarium hosts in Portland to connect with its friends and donors in Oregon’s largest city. The Aquarium wishes to recognize host sponsor, NW Natural, presenting sponsor, Oregon Coast Bank, and Schlesinger Companies, Vernier Software & Technology, Wildlife Trading Company, Wilder Newport, AAA of Oregon/Idaho and Grady Britton for supporting this year’s event.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, Oregon. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. More about Newport below, and at the Newport, Oregon Virtual Tour, Map.
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