November 22, 2014

Environmental Lifesavers

Master diver. Wayne Hasson, 62, and a team of diving enthusiasts founded the nonprofit Oceans for Youth Foundation in 1999 with the mission of promoting awareness, understanding and appreciation for the world’s largest ecosystem. The foundation has since expanded nationally, providing an arsenal of educational tools and programs, including DVDs, summer camps and a Try Scuba class for kids and adults.

Counting on the kids. Hasson hopes that through education he can inspire kids to think of ways to use the ocean for the betterment and survival of humanity. "The ocean is eventually going to be what we rely on for our food source, for our energy, for everything," Hasson says. "We definitely want the kids to start thinking about it now."

Extra education. Since most school systems don’t offer a marine science component, the foundation, powered by volunteers, gives free presentations to schools. To help take Hasson’s local presentation to a national level, Oceans for Youth created a DVD featuring 15 short educational pieces about marine life. A new DVD will be released this summer with more than 30 chapters.

Save the sharks. This summer Oceans for Youth has teamed up with Rookery Bay to raise awareness of cruel fishing practices killing sharks worldwide. "The sharks are the apex predator; if it wasn’t for the sharks, everything below the sharks would disappear from the ocean."