What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
In my last year of high school i was involved in a project to establish a marine reserve in the Whangarei Harbour, this project opened my eyes to the need for marine conservation and the importance of hands-on marine education to motivate change
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
Samara Nicholas is the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) national coordinator. EMR is an innovative marine education programme that brings school children, youth & community groups face to face with the marine environment. Samara is a founding member of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust and is its programme director. She was recognised in 2005 in the Sir Peter Blake Leadership awards as one of New Zealand’s Emerging Leaders. Samara attended the world first International Marine Protected Areas Congress in 2005 and was awarded a Northland Conservation Award, she was also named the Whangarei Young person of the year in 2004. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from AUT and is a graduate of Northland Polytechnic’s Diploma of Environmental Management. Samara is the creative force behind the development of the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme, coordinated in Northland and spreading fast to the rest of New Zealand and beyond. Samara is also a graduate of Kamo High School, where she was Head Girl and played a key role in the Kamo High School marine reserve proposal.
Samara’s EMR programme empowers schools and communities by providing hands-on experience in the ocean. The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and the local marine environment before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are encouraged to put their knowledge into action within the community.
Samara believes that marine reserves are vitally important for the conservation of marine biodiversity for future generations, and provide unique educational and inspirational opportunities. The EMR education programme is an essential step towards improving public perceptions about marine conservation by providing information and experience. The programme sets a basic building block for the establishment of marine conservation areas around New Zealand. The young people of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and their attitudes will shape society. Therefore, marine education is vital, to protect marine resources and biodiversity for the future.
Samara has written & produced interactive educational resources (CD ROM, video & website) featuring information and images about marine biodiversity and conservation.
Samara offers schools expertise, a hands-on approach to learning about marine biodiversity, and opportunities for conservation. The programme is structured around creating a very special and individual experience with students’ local marine environment. This is done through guidance, direction and coordination of classroom exercises and field trips to the ocean. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness, understanding and involvement in marine conservation through provision of dynamic experiential environmental education opportunities.
Samara works with youth on a day to day basis by:
• Delivering EMR programme to schools and communities
• Organising youth action groups
• Promoting youth involvement in community issues
• Organising guided snorkel days
• Leadership and motivation presentations to youth
• Employing youth
Below is a comment from a parent about how Samara’s EMR programme can benefit Youth:
“Personally it has enlightened my outlook on marine issues and the negative impact we have had and are forcing upon this environment. What these issues are and what we can do to alleviate the negative effect. The EMR program can gradually help balance this effect to a more positive outcome over time by educating not only our youth but also their families. Because of the adult safety requirement when in the water it is an advantageous by-product for this program that family members are involved. So we all learn.
The message of EMR is reaching a larger audience than just youth but they are the ones who will carry this knowledge into the future and influence others and make more informed decisions than we have in the past for the benefit of our marine environment” – Kristin Isaacs
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company