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Program Uncovers Natural History, Details of Oregon Coast
(Newport, Oregon) - An innovative conference, designed not just for those fascinated by the natural history of the coast and ocean, but for those who teach others about it, comes to the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) Aug. 15-17. The "Sharing the Coast Conference" is co-sponsored by the CoastWatch program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME).
The event is open to the public. Talks on Friday evening and Saturday in the HMSC auditorium are free. There will be a $30 charge ($15 for CoastWatch or NAME members) to participate in workshops and a reception Saturday afternoon, and field trips on Sunday.
"Sharing the Coast" includes a number of notable features, ranging from a talk by an internationally renowned oceanographer, to an opportunity to spend the night and learn at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, to a "Flotsam and Jetsam Scavenger Hunt." The conference’s talks, workshops and field trips are designed to present a wide range of scientific information about the coast and ocean, but also to train volunteers who monitor the shoreline through CoastWatch, and those who serve as teachers, interpreters and docents.
"We’ve tried to create an event that will be of interest to anyone who loves the coast," said Phillip Johnson, director of CoastWatch. “But our special goal is to deepen the knowledge of those who will then share this knowledge with others, whether that be as CoastWatch volunteers, NAME members or in other roles. So the conference has a double focus, not only on coastal and marine science, but on how to share the information with a broader public or with young people.”
Oceanographer John McGowan opens the conference Friday evening, Aug. 15. Dr. McGowan will speak on the “State of the Oceans” at 7 p.m. in the HMSC auditorium.
Dr. McGowan was a professor of oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography for 40 years, and is now a research professor there. His research interests focus on the large-scale interactions between climate and the physics and biology of the ocean. He is an oft-quoted leader in attempts to understand how ocean productivity and ecosystems are affected by variations in climate, and is particularly interested in long-term changes in the California Current and in the North Pacific. His talk will survey what we know about the state of the oceans, based on a lifetime of research.
On Saturday, Aug. 16, registration begins at 9 a.m., with talks starting at 9:30. Marine educator Marty Giles will speak on “The World of the Beach,” describing everything from the origins of the sand on the shoreline to the creatures that live within it. Sea Grant’s Sam Chan will discuss invasive species and how they are changing the coast, and Skye Moody, author of “Washed Up!” and other books, will explore the materials found in the driftline, and natural and artificial, and reveal what beachcombing can teach us about the ocean. Talks take place in the HMSC auditorium and are free to the public.
Saturday afternoon will be filled with workshops. One of these, on how to inform the public about climate change and its impact on the ocean, will be led by Dr. McGowan. Other workshops (at various locations in the HMSC) include:
- Recognizing invasive species of the shoreline: Sam Chan of Sea Grant.
- Protecting and teaching about cultural sites on the coast: Nancy Nelson, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department archaeologist.
- An introduction to tidepool ecology: Fawn Custer, president of NAME and an educator at HMSC.
- Techniques for teaching oceanography: Gene Williamson, a retired teacher who is incoming president of NAME and a resident of the Waldport area.
- Teaching about climate change: Vicki Osis, former head of education at the HMSC
- Interpreting the shoreline for the public: Sea Grant’s Shawn Rowe, also an Oregon State University professor who specializes in “informal learning.”
A reception will be held at the Rogue Brewery following Saturday's events.
Conference-goers can pre-register for a special activity, an overnight sleepover at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which will feature additional educational presentations, plus dinner, breakfast and a chance to sleep with creatures of the deep. Spaces for this extra activity are limited, so it would be advisable to pre-register.
A number of field trips are planned for Sunday, Aug. 17, headed by a special “Flotsam and Jetsam Scavenger Hunt” at Agate Beach led by author Skye Moody. Participants will search for a range of possible beachcombing finds, then assemble to discuss the results. Other field trips include a tidepooling trip to Seal Rock State Park, an estuary walk, a behind-the scenes tour of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and a presentation on how animals are prepared for exhibit in the HMSC visitor center.
Conference-goers who are not currently members of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition or NAME can receive the discounted conference fee by joining either organization at the time they register.
For more information, or to pre-register (not required, but recommended for those who want to reserve a place for the aquarium sleepover), contact Fawn Custer, (541) 867-0329, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Phillip Johnson, (503) 238-4450, email@example.com