Central Campus Marine Biology students move among tanks of creatures from the ocean each day during their classes, caring for animals they would have to travel far to see in the wild. Despite the landlocked nature of our state, these students dream about careers exploring, investigating, and preserving our world’s oceans and their inhabitants. Nine of Dr. Gregory Barord’s students recently earned a special designation and opportunity that will open their world even more. Dr. Barord shared their success become NOAA Ocean Guardian Youth Ambassadors in a blog post special to the Blog@DMPS.

Central Campus NOAA AmbassadorsThe Marine Biology program at Central Campus is making waves again! During the Fall 2024 semester, students applied to a relatively new program to be National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Guardian Youth Ambassadors. This program provides students aged 13-18 with leadership and training opportunities to become effective, knowledgeable stewards of the National Marine Sanctuaries, and ocean in general.

Our Marine Biology team is excited to announce that nine of our students have been accepted into the 2024 program. Over the next year, the ocean guardians will attend monthly webinars, develop projects, interact with other ambassadors around the country, and develop skills to be active citizens in ocean conservation.

I was blown away when I heard that so many of our students were accepted into the program. I am hoping that they use this as an example of what is possible if you put yourself out there and try, even if it might be uncomfortable or even a little scary. I hope that they gain more leadership and teamwork skills and positively impact ambassadors from other states.

We are so excited to share this honor with them and look forward to following them along their journey!

Students also shared their excitement to be part of this amazing opportunity:

  • “I hope to get more opportunity and exposure to the knowledge in the Marine Biology field so I can discuss and share my thoughts about Marine Biology.” – Penn Van Heukelom, sophomore, Central Campus Marine Biology and Virtual Campus
  • “The NOAA Youth Ocean Ambassador position is a way I can expand my experience and knowledge on conservational possibilities—and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity on top of my Marine Biology class. I’m very excited about the program and I hope this can prepare me even more for my desired career path in Marine Sciences/Oceanography.” – Vianne Stroope West, sophomore, Central Campus Marine Biology and East High School
  • “I’m excited to be in the Ocean Ambassador Program because of the exciting and new opportunities to learn! I’m hoping to use these moments to help build my career and shape my future as a Marine Biologist.” – Sarah Stielow, sophomore, Central Campus Marine Biology and Roosevelt High School
  • “I am really excited about being in the program because it makes me feel like I can actually help change legislation to preserve our oceans as well as hopefully providing connections and experiences that will help me later in my Marine Biology career.” – Claire Riesberg, junior, Central Campus Marine Biology and Roosevelt High School
  • “I’m extremely excited to be a part of the NOAA Youth Ambassador Program. I’m excited to meet new people and do research along with the others, and I hope to learn how to make new connections with people and help with conservation efforts.” – Caden Slaughter, senior, Central Campus Marine Biology and Van Meter
  • “I’m excited to be in the Ocean Ambassador Program to grow and learn more about ocean conservation and help my community learn about the ocean and the organisms in it. I’m hoping to grow my leadership skills and learn about different ocean conservationists.” – Bri Huisman, senior, Central Campus Marine Biology and Dallas Center Grimes
  • “I am excited to participate in the Ocean Ambassador Program and raise awareness about the acidification of the ocean.” – Adriahna Hartmann, senior, Central Campus Marine Biology and Ankeny High School
  • “I am thrilled to be accepted into the NOAA Ambassador Program. My hope is that I can further develop my leadership skills as well as take part in upcoming conservation efforts/projects.” – Lexi Harrington, senior, Central Campus Marine Biology and Dallas Center Grimes High School
  • “I’m excited to learn more about the ocean and collaborating with others to help spread awareness. I’m also planning on working in the Marine Biology field and this opportunity is going to take me one step closer to that goal.” – Michael Gerety, senior, Central Campus Marine Biology and Ankeny High School

About the Central Campus Marine Biology Program
The Marine Biology program puts students face to face with hundreds of marine organisms found around the world. Students won’t just learn about the ocean from books, they also take care of over 100 “tiny oceans” during the year and personally interact with sharks, jellyfish, corals, nautiluses, and hundreds of fish in a new facility modeled after university laboratories and public aquariums. Students are also given the opportunity to conduct their own research projects, participate in science fairs, practice field work by kayaking, dissect different organisms, and more. What makes this program so unique is that it is a student-run laboratory and aquarium which gives each student the opportunity to literally get their hands wet in everything that goes on, but to also leave a legacy for other students by coming up with new ideas for aquariums and different marine organisms to have in the program. Click here to learn more about Central Campus and the many opportunities available to high school students.

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