Reflections From My Time in the Bow Seat
April 2, 2024

Bow seat: the front of a boat; symbolizes the vessel’s forward motion and its ability to move through the water with power and grace

In many ways, my journey at Bow Seat has mirrored those of the students who participate in our Ocean Awareness Contest. When I joined the team eight years ago, I fancied myself to be an environmentalist. Which meant that I recycled and picked up litter. These were important actions, to be sure, but as I became immersed in learning about all things related to ocean conservation, I quickly discovered other things I could do to care for our blue planet.

Through my work, I learned about topics not widely taught in school – plastic pollution, the ocean’s central role in regulating global climate, how environmental and social justice issues intersect. Many students learn about these issues for the first time, too, when they do research for their Contest entries. Then, armed with this new knowledge, they begin to create.

This is when the magic happens. By thinking, and acting, like artists, students look at issues from different perspectives, reflect on their own experiences and feelings, and ask thoughtful questions. Learning is deeper, more visceral, more personal. With a greater understanding of their environmental reality, they decide to make changes in their everyday lives. For me, that has meant shopping with reusable bags and drinking with glass straws. Reducing consumption of red meat and composting. Driving a hybrid car and installing solar panels on my roof. Taking my sons to our first School Strike for Climate.

Boston Youth Climate Strike 2019

Most importantly, though, our Bow Seat journeys have introduced us to a welcoming, safe, and supportive community – a group of people from around the world with a shared commitment to protecting our natural world. Over the past eight years, I have been blessed to work with talented, passionate colleagues who live Bow Seat’s mission every day. In their roles as project managers, educators, communicators, and more, they seek to empower youth and to uplift their voices.

(L) My first Bow Seat team in 2017; (R) The team in 2024

And the young people! Through our Future Blue Youth Council and Fellowship Grant Program, I have had the honor of mentoring – and learning from – leaders who have already accomplished so much; youth who have made tangible impacts in their communities on pressing problems such as marine debris, clean energy, water scarcity and contamination. I want to be just like them when I grow up.

2023 Future Blue Youth Council

But the students who may be closest to my heart are those who are just starting their advocacy journeys, the ones only beginning to discover their voices. These are the youth for which Bow Seat’s work is so vital. Bow Seat teaches them why they should care. We invite them to share their concerns and ideas, and then we listen. We show them how they can use their art to tell stories and to speak up about the changes they want to see for their future, which is both cathartic and empowering. In the midst of our environmental crisis, Bow Seat gives young people hope.

Ocean caretaker

Thank you to my colleagues and to the young people who have welcomed me in the bow seat next to them. My ultimate goal in my professional life is to have the opportunity to contribute, to learn, and to be inspired, and that has certainly been the case during my time at Bow Seat. The work must continue, though, and I will forever stay connected to this incredible community as an ocean-lover, fan, and ally.





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Reflections From My Time in the Bow Seat

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