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Southern Association of
Marine Educators (SAME)

Making known the world of water, both fresh and salt.

Outstanding Educator Award

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2014: Rick Ranew

Photo: Rick RanewRick Ranew is an Education Specialist at the Grand Bay NERR where he works with students and teachers through a number of programs. Rick works with students in many different programs and serves in various capacities He has sponsored B-WET Teacher Workshops and annually provides Marine Litter Stewardship On the Road Programs to dozens of classrooms along the Gulf Coast in AL and MS. Rick has been instrumental in helping schools secure grants and develop multi-disciplinary outdoor classrooms. He facilitated a restoration program planting 300 black needlerush plants at the reserve after Hurricane Katrina. Rick helps set up the Regional Science Fair for hundreds of students from the Mississippi coastal counties each year. Rick does nature walks/presentations for the Wetlands Day Festival at Gautier High School. He is in charge of a lending program for schools to use dissecting scopes.

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2013: Summer Dorcik

Photo: Summer DorcikSummer Dorcik has been a SAME member for over 3 years and participated in the annual meetings in support of the organization. She has attended and presented at NMEA. Summer has been the Director of the Sea Camp Program of the Marine Education Center in Mississippi for the last three years where she has developed curriculum and served approximately 1000 students during that time period.  Summer also teaches in the Coastal Science Camps, Sea Camp, and Ms. Peetsy B program where she introduces young people (grades K-12) to the coastal and marine environments.  These programs are designed to get students out in the environment and gain a hands-on and in the field learning experience.

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2012: Chris Breazeale

Photo: Chris BreazealeChris Breazeale leads educati onal programs at the Institute for Marine Mammals (IMMS) wi th enviable rapport w ith teache rs and students. Programs range from half-day to mu ltiple day f ield trips. Chris assis ts wi th coordin ation of tea cher professio nal development opp ortunities at the IMMS. While attending local festi vals Chris “whets children’s appet ites to sci ence”through hands-on, inquiry-based activities.

Chris has many talents in the field of edu cation. He takes into account t he age of his audience and co nnects with those aud iences through his informal teaching style utilizing “hands-on” learning. He is an excellent educator committed to teaching students of all ages (K-gray ). Chris has t raveled fr om c oast to coast and has settled in Miss iss ippi to help the citize ns of t he Gulf Coast b ecome more aware a nd better understand their en vironment and the loc al wildlife. With Chris’ ent h u siasm and rapport w ith teachers and students, the IMMS programs are g rowi ng in “leaps and bounds!”

Chris is a very active member of the SAME/NMEA 2013 Annual Co nference Planning Committee. He has contributed many hours in prep aring and planning for the 2013 Conference to ensure it is a fun successful event. Chris promotes SAME and NMEA at state and local confe rences and festivals. Chris has attended several annual SAME conferences in different states.

Chris is the 2012 President-Elect of the Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME), a Regional Chapter of the National Marine Educators Association, and a m ember of the Mississ ippi Science Teachers Association.

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2011: Dr. Shelia Brown

Photo: Shelia BrownShelia Brown is a founding member of SAME and served as our Chapter Representative to the NMEA Board from 1984-86 and President of SAME (2005-07). She has been a regular presenter at NMEA Share-a-thons and state science conferences. Through B-WET (NOAA) and GOM-EPA grants Shelia has closely worked with teachers and students from the states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi closely collaborating with the underserved populations.

Shelia has worked tirelessly to recruit and work with students from around our chapter area in her marine education programs. She has developed numerous workshops and camps for teachers and students. She has incorporated assessment strategies into her education efforts in order to manage and expand her opportunities for both students and teachers. Her most recent offerings for underserved and under-represented audiences have been very well received.

For over 30 years Shelia has dedicated her life to teaching students about the world of water both salt and fresh. She puts her educational efforts before anything-- not just because she is dedicated to her job, but because she is dedicated to conserving our coastal resources through the shaping and building of environmental stewards. Shelia truly loves her students and they love her back by passing on to others what she has taught them.

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2010: Belinda Matlock

Photo: Belinda MatlockBelinda Matlock has a passion for marine science that benefits her students in all walks of life. She has led pupils on three-day fieldtrips to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for more than 20 years.  Belinda implemented visits to local creeks and ponds in the Meridian area to introduce students to the types of sampling and testing (i.e., seining, dip netting and water chemistry) that they will later perform in saltwater habitats. She truly takes science way beyond the four walls of a classroom.

Belinda has grown the fourth-grade science program at Lamar School and at other Meridian public schools into an experience that every student looks forward to.  Her students consider the class trip to be the highlight of the school year.  Enabling inland school children to visit the coast to seine, to sieve, and to work a yabby pump on a local beach and on Ship Island is awesome in itself.  Additionally, these young scientists gain the knowledge and the know-how to compare and contrast their data with other data collected in Meridian. To acquire these skills at such a young age and to be totally awed by the results is GREAT for the world of science.

Belinda has presented and shared her experiences during professional and staff development workshops and at conferences on many occasions.  She promotes SAME and NMEA at her professional meetings.  She shares her passion of making known the world of water – both salt and fresh – anytime, anyplace, anywhere!  Belinda is a walking testimonial for our world’s ocean.

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2008: Jennifer “Murt” Conover

Photo: Jennifer “Murt” ConoverJennifer “Murt” Conover grew up in western Michigan, close to the shore of Lake Michigan.  Her love of water and aquatic environments and organisms originated from spending so much time on the water as a child.  Once she finished high school, she moved to the shore of Lake Superior to attend Lake Superior State University (Go Lakers!) in Sault Ste. Maire, Michigan.  While there, she decided to expand her horizons to include the marine environment.  To do this, Murt attended Shoals Marine Laboratory (where later she would become an island staff member) and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.  In 1997, she finished her bachelor’s degree in biology at Lake State and spent a year and a half working with different environmental education programs in Maine, New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and Michigan.

  After this short break from academia, Murt enrolled in classes at the University of Connecticut, where she finished her degree in pathobiology in 2000.  Soon after, she was hired by Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) as a research assistant working for one of the scientists.  While she would not trade any of her experiences in research, Murt could not give up her greater love for environmental education, so she moved to the education program at LUMCON in 2002. 

Murt can’t think of being anything other than an environmental educator. “I am grateful for the opportunity to do the things I love and for getting to work with amazing people.” Murt said. 

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2005: Jennifer Buchanan

Photo: Jennifer Buchanan Jennifer Buchanan is a coastal ecologist who serves as the education coordinator for the Department of Marine Resources’ (DMR) Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in southeastern Jackson County, Mississippi. Jennifer received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology (with an emphasis in animal behavior) from the University of Southern Mississippi. Since 1984, when she first started her career at DMR, Jennifer has worked as a fisheries biologist, a coastal ecologist, oil spill responder, and endangered species liaison, but always found time to throw education into the mix. Now, working full time as an informal educator, Jennifer regularly works with researchers and other educators to design educational products and presentations for “K-Gray” audiences. Jennifer and her biologist husband, Michael, have two daughters, Michelle and Katy, and reside in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Outstanding Educator Award Recipient 2004: Angela Capello

Photo: Angela Capello Angela Capello is a biologist supervisor with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and is a dedicated advocate for coastal restoration. She is the supervisor for the LDWF Aquatic Education Program and is responsible for hosting, through LDWF, WETSHOP, a weeklong training for educators that provides an intense look at wetland issues related to habitats, botany, ecosystems, birding, history, coastal land loss and restoration, water quality, oil and gas exploration, fishing, seining, trawling, and fisheries management. Angela also created and designed several outreach, interdisciplinary, and aquatic stewardship programs and publications. She received a 2009 Coastal Stewardship Award for her achievements.

[Photo Caption: Angela Capello stands at Fort Livingston on Grand Terre, Louisiana in 2004 during the coastal awareness teacher workshop (WETSHOP). The pre-civil war fort is decaying, and this arch is no longer there.]


This site is hosted by the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program
Louisiana Marine Education Resources Web site.