"In the end we will conserve only what we love, We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught"

-Baba Dioum

As technology continues to evolve there is an increasing distance between children and nature. Our common sense around wildlife is no longer intuitive and the need to cultivate environmental champions is at its greatest. It is essential that we provide children with opportunities to connect with the natural world and open their eyes to the need to protect it. In doing so, we can also inspire the next generation of scientists and wildlife rescuers by giving children experiences that allow them to explore careers that support the environment. This is one of the fundamental reasons we offer educational programs at Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Camp Pinniped is one of the best examples of how we meet these goals.

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campers learn steps in rescuing and rehabilitating animals through using equipment in a mock rescue, admit their ‘plush’ sea lion patient in the hospital after diagnosing its needs and then proceed to making fish smoothie formula which they learn how to administer as part of the rehabilitation effort.

Observing and walking through each of these aspects of what we do help kids understand how we work with the recuperating animals at our hospital. They learn the interesting and the ‘icky’ sides of the job while sorting dead fish in order to make a patient’s meal and cleaning hospital units. Their picture of an animal care giver’s job quickly changes from largely hands on with animals to the reality of it which is primarily meal prep and lots of cleaning! Animal pens, food bowls and buckets, there is always something that needs to be cleaned! While taking scientific observations of the animals, they learn that science isn’t all white lab coats and beakers.

Throughout their journey, campers hear the stories of animals impacted by human negligence and become impassioned about environmental stewardship and conservation. Children learn they can take an active role that make a difference through activities such as creating public service announcement skits that they script and video themselves. In doing so they realize that they don’t have to wait to be an adult to make an impact on the world.

We frequently have children who return each summer. They are eager to share with us their stories of inspiring others to appreciate and care for the natural world. Most gratifying are the emails we get from those who are now in college studying marine science. In these moments we are proud to see that the educational opportunities Pacific Marine Mammal Center provides is culminating in young adults that are going on to make that next discovery, protect the planet and carrying the torch to inspire others.

-Posted by Kirsten Donald June 2018