Saturday, November 17, 2012

Conservation is for Everyone

Every time I scroll through my social media pages, I am bombarded with problems that face our amazing planet and the petitions that are trying to help. My heart lies with protecting sharks and our oceans, but I am sympathetic to all the other issues. It is overwhelming though, when looking at how many problems there really are. It is difficult to be hopeful and not just throw in the towel. I honestly believe that people are good and that we can, and are making a difference. I see this when a 9 year old tells me how much they love sharks or an 11 year old shares with me the letter he wrote to a cruise ship company asking them to stop serving shark. There is hope and it is in each and every one of us.

I spoke to nine classes of 4th graders on this past Wednesday and aside from shark education we had a discussion about what they could do to help sharks. A lot of the things they are already doing help sharks and they were excited to find this out. I encouraged them to speak up and share their ideas, ask questions and know that they have a voice, even thought they are young. The world seems massive as an adult and for a child it is really incomprehensible. I want kids to know that they matter and they are more powerful than they realize. Whether it is the bottle they bring to school for water instead of buying a plastic one or the influence they have on their parents purchasing, it all matters.

Kids are raw and real without the Cynicism that inflicts all of us as we age. They are yet to be burdened with the ever-present stress that can kill off our sense of hope and creativity. They have unbridled passion, empathy and compassion that really can and will change the world. This energy gives me hope and drives my continued push to save sharks and our oceans.

Adults can learn a lot from kids and should look to them for a bit of inspiration. Kids keep it simple and go all in. As adults we tend to over complicate and hesitate, often stifling our own ability to create and do. Many adults ask me what they can do for sharks if they are not a diver, biologist or expert. The list is too long to mention, but I always emphasize keeping it simple and to realize that small steps are powerful tools. You do not need to be an expert; you just need an idea and some heart.
I had a woman write to me and ask if making shark cupcakes and selling at a craft sale was silly. She wanted to take the money she made and donate it. Definitely not silly, pretty cool idea if you ask me. I had another man who loves diving and wanted to share this passion on hobby night at his daughter’s school. He had some pictures and video, but reached out to myself and other shark conservationists for materials and ideas. Catalyzed by his own love, he was able to create a table of shark info and reach a lot of people that had no idea about sharks or diving. This took a little bit of time and effort, something everyone can do.

I wish that I could visit classrooms every week, but my schedule just does not allow it, plus I need to pay my bills. Because of this I encourage others to make a visit to a local school. The kids will love it! They will not care that you are not an expert; they will notice the person that took time to talk to them and share something they are passionate about. If not a school then a church group, book group, cooking group or scout group. The options are endless. Everyone has it in them to be a conservation minded individual and everyone should.

If you are interested in doing a shark presentation please email me for materials, guidelines and information.

Best Fishes,

Sharky Jillian

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