Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I will happily and enthusiastically talk to anyone about sharks and I am sure those that know me can attest to this. I especially love talking to kids about sharks and today I did just that at two different schools. My first visit was to Central School in South Berwick, Maine; a school that I attended as a 5th grader. A little surreal to step foot into that miniature world again as an adult.

I talked to 6 second grade classes broken into 3 groups. I prefer smaller groups because it makes interaction between me and the kids a lot easier. It also means I can usually get to everyone’s questions. I am not one to talk at students, but want to hear what they think and engage them in conversations. I probably ask them almost as many questions as they ask me. I want them to know that what they have to say is important and that they can make a difference. I cannot stand there in front of them and tell them that they can help sharks and then not offer them the chance to speak up.

I have an outline for the presentation, but let each group guide the flow. Each group of students is unique with a dynamic range of stories and questions. If they want to talk about shark ears for a while then we can talk about shark ears for a while. They do get a giggle when the image of a lemon shark with human ears pops onto the screen. I love that laughter.

Once again I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of knowledge these kids have about sharks and the problems they are facing. They have more passion than they can even realize at this stage in the life, but it is raw, powerful and infectious. The smiles on their faces and the hugs after the talk are worth more than all the money in the world. Yes, I am getting a little choked up at the moment.
One little girl had her desk lined with stuffed sharks. AWESOME! I met each shark and then she got to meet Lucky.

In the last class I visited a few of the kids came up and asked for my autograph and if I could draw a shark for them. OH MY GOD!! This made my heart melt. They were so sincere and I quickly began scribbling the cartoon shark I always draw onto pieces of paper with giant Crayola markers and crayons! I don’t feel worthy of signing autographs, but I can hope that those pieces of paper stand as a reminder for those kids that they can helps sharks and they can help our oceans.

Great thank you cards!!!

Kids are like amazing sponges at that age and it is important to provide them with positive images and facts about the ocean world. There are so many negative things about sharks that define most encounters they will have; I want to give them tools to questions those, “ myths.” and dare to speak up. They are all junior scientists that can ask questions just like real scientists. This is an important job and I know most of the them will take it very seriously.

I traveled to the next school to speak to the first graders at Berwick Academy. They gathered on the floor around me and I found myself sitting down next them. We chatted about sharks, talked about the oceans and they got to pass around some sharks tags and even Lucky and Monty got some love.

After four 45 minute presentations I am exhausted, but my heart is happy. I gain even more respect for teachers every time I visit a school. Teachers do this everyday without the recognition they deserve and I want to thank Erin Darling at Central and Susan Morris at Berwick Academy for being integral in facilitating my visit to the schools. I am looking forward to many more. Also, thank you Erin for the whoopie pies. You obviously know the way to a Maine girl’s heart! Thank you Kelsey Boston and Dylan for getting the ball rolling on my visit to Central.

Thanks to Maine kids for caring about Sharks! I look forward to the next time I visit!

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