O’Neill Sea Odyssey – April Spotlight

Describe the O’Neill Sea Odyssey student experience:  

The Monterey Bay is a rich, diverse ecosystem filled with abundant life. It’s just under the water where students are not able to easily see it. The O’Neill Sea Odyssey creates connection, understanding and a curiosity of our ocean ecosystem. Anchored in math, science and technology, we create a spark, a connection to our ocean. We cannot ask future generations to protect an ecosystem that they do not have the opportunity to build a connection to. At the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, we build a connection, a spark, a curiosity regarding the wonder of our ocean ecosystem.  


What is unique about OSO?  

O’Neill Sea Odyssey reaches students at a critical stage in their development – 4th through 6th grade. The Sea Odyssey experience provides students with new experiences and knowledge that is applied in real time. It’s not theoretical, it’s actionable. Students are provided with the opportunity to apply the lessons learned and create a cycle of stewardship in their homes and communities.   

We work to Eliminate Barriers:  

O’Neill Sea Odyssey is founded on the belief that the ocean should be free and accessible. We want to change the relevance and accessibility of information and connection to our ocean. By providing free, hands-on learning to traditionally marginalized groups of students who would not otherwise have the ability to access our coasts or oceans, we are creating a new narrative for communities of color. The communities served line the shores of the Monterey Bay, yet on average 30 percent of each class that attends has never been to the beach before.   


 What kind of programming does O’Neill Sea Odyssey provide? 

O’Neill Sea Odyssey provides selected classes with a free, hands-on experience to learn about our ocean ecosystem while sailing onboard our floating classroom, a 65-foot catamaran, on the shores of the Monterey Bay. Students are introduced to concepts of marine biology, marine ecology, watershed science and navigation in the field and back in our shoreside education classroom. Prior to their field experience, teachers are provided with curriculum to introduce critical vocabulary and concepts to their students. Afterwards, what makes the Sea Odyssey experience unique is students are asked to apply the lessons they have learned with a student action project. These projects are designed to apply the lessons in their school or home community, thus creating a cycle of connection and conservation.  


What is your outlook for the future of the ocean and how the next generation will relate to it? 

Climate change is here. Here in Santa Cruz, we have seen floods, fire and severe weather that have drastically affected our communities and natural environments. We know that communities of color are being disproportionately impacted by these events, and that the ocean will play a critical role in the sequestration of carbon for climate regulation. We hope that by creating equitable pathways for youth to learn, connect and become inspired by our ocean ecosystem, we are building a new generation of environmental stewards and climate warriors.  

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