the Ocean, Inc., a marine education program based in Fort
Lauderdale,Florida, has spearheaded more than three decades
of learning and caring for the ocean. Its grassroots
program to appreciate, protect and use the ocean wisely
has been recognized by the
National Marine Educators Association.
Week of the Ocean offers four ocean awareness
concepts: the Campus Event, the School Marine Fair, the
Community Festival and the Local Chapter. Outreach
programs include National Week of the Ocean and the
sharing of such marine education programs as Mr. and Mrs.
Fish and seachanteyman Tom Callinan with South Florida.
the Week of the Ocean programs can operate independently
but are most effective linked together to produce a
unique learning experience which unites all citizens,
ages and endeavors in the common goal of appreciation and
protection of the ocean. As Week of the Ocean expands, it
uses its own experiences as pilot programs providing
ideas and guidance for other organizations and
Left to Right Front
Cynthia Hancock, President/Co-Founder; Marcy Decker; Barbara Rapoza; Renee Richards;
Big John McLaughlin and Joe Hessmann.
Left to right Rear:
Elizabeth Moller; Dr. Lee Kalvaitis; Scott Gebhard and Vice President/Co-Founder Dane Hancock.
Not Pictured: Webmaster Paul Hammond
The following paragraphs trace the history of the
THE CAMPUS EVENT
In 1977, co-founders Cynthia and Dane Hancock attended
the Oceans '77 Conference in Los Angeles. At educational
sessions there they became concerned about the lack of
ocean awareness still existing in the U.S. and the need
for a strengthened ocean study curriculum
at the K-12th grade levels.
They proposed a pilot campus program to American Learning
Systems in Fort Lauderdale, Florida which could later
expand into a community observance. In 1979, the American
Academy and American Heritage Schools observed Ocean Week
involving 1,000 students
and staff. The week included a poster contest for four
grade levels and a lesson plan
contest for instructional staff.
In 1980, the campus event included 13 subject areas. In
1982, it inspired a pilot program of its own, an
international event at Newcastle University and St.
Mary's Infants School in England. Florida Oaks School was
matched with St. Mary's and a dialogue on the ocean
between two countries.
A Campus Event kit describing how to conduct such an event is
now available to help others plan for the best
THE SCHOOL MARINE FAIR
In 1979, co-founder Lee Kalvaitis designed the School
Marine Fair as the opening event of the first Fort
Lauderdale area community festival. The competition areas
were seafood cooking, posters, science projects, lesson
plans and arts and crafts. In 1981, creative writing and
photography became additional categories.
In 1982, Cynthia and Lee combined the campus event and
school marine fair concepts into kits for other educators
to use in their communities. Thousands of teachers have
requested information on the kits since that time.
In 1983, thirty-nine Broward schools participated in the
fair. In 1984, this figure rose by 78 percent. As many as
80 Broward schools have been involved sending more than
1,000 finalist entries to the competition. It is
estimated that 775,000 Broward students have participated
in the program to date. (See separate history)
THE COMMUNITY FESTIVAL
Co-founders Dr. Florence Smith and Ian Koblick
served as Fort Lauderdale's first festival task force
chairs. Their committee included co-founders Beverly
Burris-Kennedy, Cynthia Hancock, Lee Kalvaitis, Tonya
Koblick, Dr. George Lawniczak, John Morgan, Frank A.
Raia, Nancy Tyrer Lawniczak and Sally Upstill. A nine-day
festival was planned patterned on the 1979
National Oceans Week held in Alexandria, Virginia.
The 1980 festival included the School Marine Fair, a film
and lecture series, a sea turtle release, a swim-a-thon,
a beachwalk and art show. In 1982, the festival settled
into a late April/early May timeframe.
In 1983, the festival served as a pilot for a new Week of
the Ocean-sponsored event - National Week of the Ocean.
Three events were added: a symposium, an international
seafest and an Outstanding High School Marine Students
In 1984, the fifth annual festival, now eleven days long,
included 30 events co-sponsored by over 70 non-profit
groups and businesses. The 1985 fest involved 80 schools.
This event also inspired a festival in Carteret County,
NC at Duke University Marine Lab. It was directed by
national co-chair Tap Pryor, his wife Pamela and area
Today, the Fort Lauderdale-area festival includes a
three-month celebration beginning with the Marine
Industries Association of South Floridas annual
Marine Waterways Cleanup, festival culminates with Mother Ocean Day Community Awards Luncheon & film. It has inspired a
ballad by Tom Callinan entitled "Mother Ocean."
National Week of the Ocean, Inc. prides itself on its
quality programming and finely-tuned budget.
Sample festival programs are available for other
use as guidelines for the nominal price of $5.00.
NATIONAL WEEK OF THE OCEAN
In 1984, a resolution sponsored by Congressman E. Clay
Shaw and Senator Paula Hawkins was written into Public
Law 98-274. The law represents a four-year program
launched by Cynthia Hancock in an Oceans '81 abstract
presented at Oceans '82 and endorsed by the National
Marine Educators Association in 1982.
supported by seven renowned ocean pioneers headed
by astronaut/aquanaut Scott Carpenter. The
pioneers include Norman Baker, navigator of Thor
Heyerdahl's Ra I and II voyages; Eugenie Clark,
famed zoologist; Sylvia Earle, noted marine
biologist; Tap Pryor, aquaculture pioneer;
Andreas Rechnitzer, record diver, Trieste; and
Stan Waterman, Emmy award-winning underwater
The nation is invited to participate annually in
the April National Week of the Ocean by observing moments
as casual as an evening reading the classic Moby Dick
or penning an editorial to the local paper on marine
issues. Organizations, schools and businesses are
encouraged to plan a special event which can attract the
attention and support of the whole
community. The ongoing theme "Exploring Mother
Ocean" offers many possibilities
to spotlight the ocean's rich heritage and promise.
National co-chairs do caution us, however. Carpenter
warns that "Life on dry land is dependent on the
ocean and if the ocean dies, we die." Baker reminds
us that the ocean serves both a practical and aesthetic
purpose. "The ocean is refreshing to the soul,"
he says. "We must allow the oceans to balance and
grow at their normal rate. Overpopulating the earth may
damage the food source for future generations."
Rechnitzer concludes that NOW is the appropriate time for
man to demonstrate his stewardship of what may prove to
be one of mankind's greatest remaining resources.
All agree that endeavors such as Week of the Ocean are
important ways in which to
educate and interest the public.
A full-color, 24 x 36" poster is available
for $10 plus
$4.95 shipping and handling.
THE LOCAL CHAPTER
Early in its history Week of the Ocean realized that
manpower and resources were needed to continue its
programming. In 1981, one hundred citizens formed the
charter membership. By 1982 memberships were being
offered to individuals, families, sponsors, benefactors,
corporations and honorees. The non-profit/educational
category set up for schools, groups, museums and marine
programs doubled by 1983. In 1984, overall membership
doubled and new categories were offered to students,
youth, educators and small businesses. Week of the
Ocean membership now includes 37 affiliates representing
several thousand people, many from areas other than
Members receive periodic newsletters and an annual
membership directory. Activities have included oceanic
programs, socials, field trips and, most importantly, the
opportunity to initiate and direct local and national
MEMBER RECOGNITION & CONTRIBUTIONS
Week of the Ocean is particularly proud of
members who step forward when special help is needed such
as Dr. Ray McAllister who secured a tax umbrella during
its formative years before receiving the 501C3 status
with the help of Emily Rushin and Attorney Charles S.
Dale; Joe Hessmann who initiated the manatee burgee
project; Deborah Mazuk who was instrumental in the
organization's growth and Paul Hammond who initiated our
Whether a person or organization joins to
influence the lives of others; to meet and make good
friends; to network or develop leadership skills or to
learn more about the sea, each member adds something to
keep the concept alive and to strengthen the ocean's
chances for survival. A most recent example is volunteer
Hazel Florence Pisini for whom a Memorial Education Fund
has been established to commemorate the pride she took in
our programs and the more than 20 years of service she
wishing to make a contribution to the Hazel Pisini
Memorial Education Fund
please make your check payable to:
National Week of the Ocean, Inc.
P.O. Box 179
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33302
for more information call:
Cynthia Hancock, Co-Founder and President * 954-462-5573
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