Meet Eric Carstens, Bow Seat’s New Program ManagerJune 2, 2021
Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Eric Carstens (he/him/his) and I am the new Program Manager at Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. My love of the ocean predates memory. I grew up in Oakton, Virginia, which is not quite on the water but close enough. I have to thank my parents for frequent trips to the beach as a child. On my first trip, they could not get me near the water. Ever since, they have not been able to get me out.
Growing up close to Washington D.C., I had many opportunities to visit the National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo, as well as the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Early exposure to science, particularly seeing sea life up close, hooked me and inspired me to learn more. As I grew up, I consumed every piece of media I could find from documentaries to books, drawing pictures and creating my own scrapbook-style encyclopedias along the way. The more I explored the ocean, the more I fell in love with it. It was not until I took a field course in high school that I realized the extent of our impact—coral bleaching, eutrophication, ocean acidification, and pollution threaten to destroy the biodiversity that I care so deeply about.
I started college with conservation in mind, majoring in biology with a minor in marine science. I planned to go into research but lab work did not feel right for me. I wanted to focus on science more broadly, I wanted to work with people from many different backgrounds, and I wanted to think more creatively. I pivoted towards science communication and began to explore the burgeoning field. Reflecting on my early experiences with museums, zoos, and aquaria, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in museum education at Tufts University. I have greatly enjoyed thinking of novel ways to engage with science, particularly with a conservation lens.
I have had the opportunity to help with invasive lionfish research in the Caribbean, restore coral reefs in the Florida Keys, and teach environmental science to elementary schoolers on the North Shore of Massachusetts. I revel in the exchange of knowledge that happens when talking to people with different backgrounds and perspectives, from seasoned scientists to fiery youth advocates.
Bow Seat provides a totally unique avenue for middle and high schoolers to engage with ocean advocacy using art—I’m jealous that I did not get to participate when I was in high school. I am so inspired by the creativity and passion that I’ve seen from Contest alumni and I am beyond excited to continue learning and growing with Bow Seat.