Savannah, Ga. – UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is hosting the fourth annual Youth Conservation Summit (YOCS) on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island. The summit, one of several taking place across the country, empowers middle and high school students with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement ocean conservation projects in their communities.

The workshop will comprise skill-building exercises, brainstorming sessions and marine science research presentations. At the end of the day, students will work together to develop and present ideas for conservation efforts that they can lead in their local communities.

“Well informed and motivated youth are critical to addressing pressing ocean conservation issues,” says Anne Lindsay, associate director of marine education at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “It’s a thrill to get to work with the talented students who participate in YOCS each year and we’re pleased to cultivate their roles as stewards for the ocean and the planet.”

Keynote speakers include Maia McGuire, extension agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida Sea Grant. McGuire created the Florida Microplastics Awareness Project, an initiative designed to mobilize coastal communities to monitor microplastics and minimize the amount of plastics they add to the environment.

The 2018 summit will include a career panel featuring local Savannah artist Lisa D. Watson and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Julia Diaz. Watson uses reclaimed materials in her art to show how human development can degrade the natural landscape. Her exhibition “Avanguardia” is on display at the Jepson Center in Savannah until March 2018. Diaz studies marine biogeochemistry and plankton. Her research sites are located around the globe from Bermuda to Antarctica.

Additional speakers include representatives from local conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy in Georgia, the South Carolina Aquarium and One Hundred Miles.

The summit is being organized by the 2017-18 Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Interns Isabella Espinoza, Mandy Castro, Megan Wilson and Victoria Green.

Online registration opened Dec. 4, 2017, and closes Jan. 15, 2018. To register, complete the online registration form and payment available on the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant website http://gacoast.uga.edu/youth-ocean-conservation-summit/

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Contact: Emily Woodward, 912-598-2348 ext. 107, ewoodward@uga.edu