Teach For The Ocean’s inaugural Educators Summit was held June 4, 2024 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. In total, over 80 educators from all backgrounds in Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas gathered together to learn from experts in ocean literacy, conservation, and policy. 

The Importance of Ocean Literacy in Conservation Action

This event provided valuable professional development and networking opportunities. To start off the day, a panel of experts had an insightful discussion moderated by TOF Chief Development Officer Jason Donofrio. Krysta Hougen-Ryall (Environmental Communications Specialist, NOAA Environmental Science Training Center), Lauren Fauth (Director of Conservation Education at National Aquarium), Keyla Correia (Master’s student at Georgetown University and Co-Founder of Plastic Free Mermaids), and Lolita Kiorpes (Science Educator, Thomas Stone High School) provided expert insight on a variety of topics. Topics ranged from shaping environmental literacy policy in the Chesapeake Bay region, research and ecology of Chesapeake Bay, youth activism and ocean literacy education as well as public schools’ current needs, and the importance of building science literacy.

Educators Summit participants listen in the Smithsonian's Q?rius Theater
Educators Summit participants listen to the panel presentation in the Smithsonian’s Q?rius Theater.

Professional Development to Improve Teaching and Learning

Participants had several opportunities throughout the summit for valuable hands-on training from leading experts in the marine education and ocean literacy space. 

Krysta Hougen-Ryall led an exercise in K-12 Education action tailored specifically to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Participants worked in groups to create connections between different ecosystems.

Educators Summit participants hands while working on an activity together

Carrie McDougall, Senior Program Manager with NOAA’s Office of Education (OE), as well as other representatives from NOAA OE, treated participants to the premiere of the Science On a Sphere mobile app, SOS Explorer. Summit participants got to experience the wide variety of NOAA datasets available at their fingertips!

Carrie McDougall, Senior Program Manager at the NOAA Office of Education shows participants how to use the Science on a Sphere mobile app

Frances Lang, Teach For the Ocean’s Program Officer, gave a thought-provoking presentation on ocean conservation behavior, decision-making, and action, and provided tools for educators to influence behavior change in their own programs.

Frances Lang, Teach for the Ocean's Program Officer

The Future of the Educators Summit

The inaugural Educators Summit was a smashing success! We are so grateful for our incredible partnership with the Smithsonian. A special thanks to Dr. Carla Easter, leader of the Smithsonian’s Department of Education, Outreach and Visitor Experience, the entire Q?rius education team, and the Smithsonian ocean team for helping us put on such an inspiring, high-quality summit for D.C. area educators. We are excited and already looking forward to the 2025 Educators Summit!

Dr. Carla Easter the Broh-Kahn Weil Director of Education, the leader of the Smithsonian's Department of Education, Outreach and Visitor Experience.

If you’re interested in contributing to future Teach For the Ocean activities, please add your information to our interest form. Read participant testimonials below:

“Thank you for putting together a wonderful day for teachers! This day was excellent and I appreciate your efforts.”

“I really enjoyed all of the workshops and found the Summit greatly helpful in considering the implementation of my own informal ocean education endeavors.”

“I appreciate the pledge you and your colleagues have taken to honor our global ocean.” 

– Educators Summit Participants

Educators Summit Photos

Check out more photos from the event in the gallery below! If you share them on social, please tag The Ocean Foundation (@oceanfdn) and use the hashtag #TOFEducatorsSummit2024.