In August 2019, the U.S. Embassy and Te Ipukarea Society (a Cook Islands NGO) conducted a Sea and Earth Advocates (SEA) Camp for emerging ocean science leaders in the Cook Islands. Through a two-day series of workshops experts encouraged 40 emerging Cook Island leaders to pursue careers in ocean sciences, technology, engineering and math.
Opening remarks were delivered by Teina Mackenzie, President of Te Ipukarea Society and U.S. Government International Visitor Leadership Program alumni. The workshop was action packed with local and international speakers all passionate about sharing their experiences and creating pathways for young Cook Islanders.
Jacqui Evans, Director of Marae Moana, international award-winning environmentalist, and Pacific Women Leader, gave a keynote on the Cook Islands Marae Moana Marine Reserve in a global context focusing on climate change, coral bleaching, and plastics.
U.S. speakers included Dr. Ashanti Johnson, Chemical Oceanographer and CEO of STEM Human Resource Development at the University of Texas, and Dr. Nevada Winrow, founder and CEO of Black Girls Dive Foundation, visited Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Through a livestreamed connection with the Nautilus research vessel that is presently undertaking research around Kiribati, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Winrow promoted internship opportunities on board the Nautilus for science communication fellows.
Natalie Sinclair of Scotland, National Geographic Explorer and PhD Candidate at the University of St. Andrews shared her research on Cook Islands and Pacific whale songs as it relates to their migration patterns and cultural heritage.
Rima Browne of the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority talked about her day to day life onboard a recent ship research expedition with NIWA New Zealand that looked at the effect of sediment and seabed mining.
Miimetua Nimerota, Director of the Centre of Excellence in information Technology at the University of South Pacific Cook Islands Campus, introduced short-term training courses and opportunities in IT, robotics, cybersecurity, software and more.
Pamela Maru, Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources, showcased the various career paths in fisheries available for Cook Islanders locally. This included fishing technology, lagoon monitoring, food science, aquaculture, law of the sea, compliance and enforcement, communication, education and more.
Jess Cramp, U.S. National Geographic Emerging Explorer and shark researcher based in the Cook Islands, presented her research with Sharks Pacific in the Cook Islands specifically in Aitutaki and Penrhyn. She encouraged young Cook Islanders to join her for internships.
Teuru Tiraa-Passfield, Cook Islands pearl biologist, explained her educational journey—failures and successes—highlighting family, university, higher education, pearl farming in Manihiki, work trips to Mangaia, Mitiaro, Mauke and Aitutaki.
Maruia Willie, Cook Islands engineer with the Te Mato Vai project, spoke about her experience working on the project. She discussed the challenges of her work as a young female engineer.
SEA Camp concluded at sea with a visit to the Marumaru Atua traditional voyaging society to learn about the role of traditional sciences.
SEA Camp in the News:
For more SEA Camp photos click here.
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