For Teacher Appreciation Week, we highlight the dedicated educators who inspire stewardship of Alaska’s ocean and watersheds.
NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Program works with schools throughout the country to promote the conservation of local watersheds, the ocean, and places like national marine sanctuaries. Each school creates local projects to create environmentally sustainable events and programs that benefit the community and our planet.
In Alaska, the program began in Juneau and has spread to Anchorage, inspiring the next generation of students to care about our shared waterways.
In 2017, Kim Raum-Suryan, a marine mammal specialist with NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, watched the documentary “Plastic is Forever” by 12-year-old Dylan D’Haeze. The documentary mentioned NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Program, spurring Kim to investigate the program.
She and her supervisor, Aleria Jensen, approached educators at two schools in Juneau who enthusiastically wanted to join the program. Thunder Mountain High School and Sayéik Gastineau Community School both began the Ocean Guardian Program during the 2018–2019 school year. They had no funding, but the community quickly rallied to help. The Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership donated funds to help launch the programs, and students also participated in Litter Free to raise money. NOAA Fisheries provided some staff time to advise the schools and made presentations to students about the effects of marine debris on ocean animals and habitats. In 2019, Thunder Mountain High School and Sayéik Gastineau Community School became the first Ocean Guardian Program Schools in Alaska!