Armed with a formal education in how to protect the marine environment and develop solutions to manage marine resources, Tiffany Martin is committed to opening minds across the province to the importance of marine sustainability, the challenges faced by the oceans sector and the exciting career opportunities available here at home.

Ms. Martin is a graduate of the Marine Institute‘s marine environmental technology program who is putting into action what she’s learned as the conference coordinator with MI Ocean Net.

Through MI Ocean Net, she has a simple, yet powerful message and it’s making waves in communities and schools across Newfoundland and Labrador.

“One of the goals of MI Ocean Net is to help our coastal communities take an active role in protecting our marine environment,” said Ms. Martin. “It’s also about encouraging our youth to not only take an interest in life-long marine sustainability, but to encourage them to explore the education and training they’d need to continue to create positive change and find employment in the oceans sector, right here in the province.

“It’s a lofty goal, but it’s working – one coastal community at a time.”

In the past year, MI Ocean Net which receives funding support from the provincial departments of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development, has reached more than 2,000 individuals and organizers throughout the province which highlights the program is well received. So far, Ms. Martin has visited communities such as Random Island, Bonavista, Lewisporte, Catalina, Stephenville and Grand Bank, just to name a few. She plans to take MI Ocean Net to Nain, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Makkovik and central and western Newfoundland and Labrador in the coming months.

Through the Youth and the Oceans Conference(YOC) and the Friends of Beaches (FOB) NetworkMs. Martin encourages youth and residents to explore ways they can help protect our oceans and provide them with the tools necessary to create change.

“YOC connects our youth with ocean education and important resources and information on careers in the marine environment,” said Ms. Martin. “The goal is to spark their interest in the opportunities available and how they can get involved in the future.”

This year, MI Ocean Net has taken YOC on the road. That means more students than ever are getting the message. To date, the team has reached nearly 500 students from all areas of Newfoundland and Labrador and that list continues to grow.

The FOB Network reaches the wider community and engages youth and volunteers in educational discussions, special events and beach clean-ups.

“Clean oceans are critical to our economy and fostering ocean conservation in coastal communities is essential to their sustainability,” said Ms. Martin. “The oceans provide resources that many residents depend on.”

Through FOB, volunteers conduct clean-ups and work together on specific issues related to their local beaches. Look no further than the committed group of volunteers on Fogo Island who got involved in 2011 and continue to help combat that which threatens the sustainability and safe use of their local beach by organizing annual clean-ups.

“I am passionate about what I do and I’m committed to sharing my knowledge and experience to help make a difference in the lives of our youth and in all areas of the province,” said Ms. Martin.

“Building on my training at the Marine Institute, I want to educate people about the resources we have here in our communities and help them get to know our oceans so that together we can protect our sensitive ecosystem.”