Here at The Ocean Foundation, we believe in the power of the ocean and its magical effects on both people and planet. More importantly, as a community foundation, we believe that our community involves everyone who relies on the ocean. That’s YOU! Because, regardless of where you live, everyone benefits from a healthy ocean and coasts.

We asked our staff, as part of our community, to tell us their favorite memories of the water, ocean, and coasts — and why they are working to make the ocean better for all life on earth. Here’s what they said:

Frances with her daughter and dog in the water

“I’ve always loved the ocean, and seeing it through my daughter’s eyes has made me even more passionate about protecting it.”

Frances Lang

Andrea as a baby on the beach

“For as long as I can remember, my family holidays were at the beach, where I felt the ocean breeze for the first time as young as two months old. Each summer, we would drive for long hours south of Buenos Aires following the Río de la Plata, the river that meets the Atlantic Ocean. We would stay at the beach all day getting washed over by the waves. My sister and I would particularly enjoy playing near the shore, which very often involved my dad buried deep in the sand with only his head out. Most of my growing-up memories are by (or related to) the ocean: rowing in the Pacific, diving in Patagonia, following hundreds of dolphins, listening to orcas, and voyaging in the gelid Antarctic waters. It seems it is my very special place.”


Alex Refosco as a child with her blue boogey board, throwing her hands up in the air while standing in the ocean

“I was lucky enough to grow up by the ocean in Florida and can’t remember a time when the beach wasn’t home to me. I learned to swim before I could walk and many of my best childhood memories are of my dad teaching me to body surf or spending the days out on the water with my family. As a child I’d spend all day in the water and today the beach is still one of my favorite places in the world.”

Alexandra Refosco

Alexis as a baby on her dad's back, with the water in the background

“Here’s a photo of me and my dad in 1990 on Pender Island. I always say that the ocean feels like home to me. Whenever I’m sitting beside it I feel an intense sense of calm and ‘rightness,’ no matter where in the world I am. Maybe it’s because I grew up with it as a big part of my life, or maybe it’s just the power the ocean has for everyone.”

Alexis Valauri-Orton

Alyssa as a toddler, standing on the beach

“My first memories of the ocean always remind me of time spent with family and good friends. It holds a special place in my heart full of cherished memories of burying friends in the sand, boogie boarding with my siblings, my dad swimming after me when I fell asleep on a floatie, and wondering out loud about what might be swimming around us when we swam out far enough that we could no longer touch the ground. Time has passed, life has changed, and now the beach is where my husband, baby girl, dog, and I walk to spend quality time with each other. I dream about taking my little girl to the tidepools when she gets a little older to show her all of the creatures to discover there. We’re now passing on the creation of memories at the ocean and hope she will cherish it like we do.”

Alyssa Hildt

Ben as a child laying in the sand and smiling, with a green bucket next to him

“While my ‘ocean’ was Lake Michigan (which I spent a lot of time in), I remember seeing the ocean for the first time on a family trip to Florida. We didn’t have the opportunity to travel much when I was growing up, but the ocean in particular was an exciting place to visit. Not only was it a lot easier to float in the ocean versus freshwater lakes, but the waves were much bigger and easier to boogie board. I would spend hours catching the shore break until my stomach was covered in rug burns and it was painful to move.”


Courtnie Park as a young toddler splashing in the water, with a piece of paper over top of the picture that says "Courtnie loves the water!"

“As my mom’s scrapbook of me says, I’ve always loved the water and now love working to protect it. Here is me as a young child playing in the waters of Lake Erie”

Courtnie Park

Fernando as a young child, smiling

“Me at age 8 in Sydney. Spending days taking ferries and sailboats around Sydney Harbour, and spending lots of time at Bondi Beach, cemented my love for the ocean. In fact, I was quite scared of the water in Sydney Harbour because it was cold and deep — but I always respected it nonetheless.”


Kaitlyn and her sister standing and smiling as children at Huntington Beach

“My first memories of the ocean were hunting for little coquina clam shells and dragging washed-up kelp along the California coast on family vacations. Even today, I find it magical that the ocean spits up little bits of itself along the shore–it gives such insight into what’s living in the nearshore waters and what the bottom looks like, depending on the abundance of algae, clam halves, bits of coral, crustacean molts, or snail shells that are deposited along the shoreline.”

Kaitlyn Lowder

Kate as a toddler on the beach with a green bucket

“To me, the ocean is a sacred and spiritual place. It’s where I go to relax, to make my most difficult decisions, to mourn loss and change and to celebrate life’s biggest thrills. When a wave hits me, I feel like the ocean is giving me a ‘high five’ to keep going.”


Katie helping driving a boat as a child at Ford Lake

“My love for the ocean came from my love for water, spending my childhood on Missouri rivers and Michigan lakes. I am now lucky enough to live next to the ocean, but will never forget my roots!”

Katie Thompson

Lily as a child looking out into the water

“I have been obsessed with the ocean ever since I was a kid. Everything about it fascinated me and had this mysterious pull to the ocean. I knew I had to pursue a career in marine science and have been truly amazed with everything I have learned. The best part about being in this field is that we are constantly learning something new about the ocean everyday – always on our toes!”

LILY Rios-Brady

Michelle as a baby, next to her twin sister and mom as they all push a stroller outside on the boardwalk of Rehobeth Beach

“Growing up, family vacations to the beach were a yearly ritual. I have so many amazing memories playing in the sand and at the boardwalk arcade, floating in the water, and helping push the stroller closer to the beach.”

Michelle Logan

Tamika as a child, looking out at Niagra Falls

“Me as a kid at Niagara Falls. I was generally amazed at the stories of people going over the waterfall in a barrel.”

Tamika Washington

“I grew up in a small farm town in the central valley of California, and some of my best memories include our family escaping to California’s Central Coast from Cambria to Morro Bay. Walking on the beach, exploring tide pools, collecting jade, talking to fishers on the piers. Eating fish and chips. And, my favorite, visiting the seals.”

Mark J. Spalding

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