By Jesse Gruneau
In 2021, 160 young people (ages 18-30) formed Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program, a national team engaged for eleven months in co-creating and delivering ocean and waterway service projects for their home communities.
Jesse is a passionate advocate for conservation who aspires to have a career in educating others about the natural world. Jesse is a 2021 Ocean Bridge Direct Action alum, completing his placement at Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society (SIMRS). Living in BC’s west coast, Jesse completed his bachelor’s degree in communication at Simon Fraser University before working various jobs in Vancouver’s film industry. Jesse now hopes to transition to a career where he can use visual storytelling as a means for community engagement, educational outreach, and to bring crucial conservation topics to the light for public discussion and policy change.
My Direct Action placement with Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society (SIMRS) is now over, and I can honestly say it was more than I could have ever asked for. In many ways, it was the perfect stepping stone for pursuing a career in conservation and science communication. While I still have a lot to learn, this process enabled me to gain a broad oversight into what jobs in environmental conservation can look like and the kinds of things to think about before pursuing these careers. My hosts led as shining examples of what one can do with passion for our marine ecosystems. This aspect was the most impactful part of my Direct Action experience, as it left me with a clearer idea of what skills and connections I should seek to develop.
In a similar vein, the past 3 months were extremely rewarding in allowing me to develop relevant skills and gain insight into how I can apply those skills to the topics that arise within marine stewardship. There were many experiences that felt unique, fulfilling, and relevant to my previous and potential future work. From my times on the boat absorbing valuable info on marine mammal ecology, monitoring techniques, and response procedures, to days spent underwater filming in the sub-tidal zones. I am interested in exploring how gaining more ecological knowledge could help contribute to refining my skills in storytelling through the lens of conservation.
Ultimately, the connections I was able to make and the knowledge I was exposed to made the experience one I will take with me for the rest of my life. It has made me further re-evaluate my connection to the ocean. Being constantly immersed in a space where you see the subtle damages of human activity and the beauty of ocean ecosystems, it made me think about how I could bring in my friends and community to appreciate a closer relationship with the ocean. One question remains though, what do I do now? If anything, it seems like I need to carry this experience into new endeavours and back to my community and circles. Perhaps there is a way for me to build on my own ecological knowledge and continue to have the motivation to communicate this to others. This might take place in the online space of social media, or it may also manifest in longer more impactful visual stories.
This work has provided more motivation for me to continue in my pursuit of answering the question: “What can I do to help save our marine ecosystems?” I would love to continue seeking answers to this question in a multifaceted way. One answer might be online engagement, while the next may mean learning more about grant writing and policy change. Either way, the future is full of possibility and curiosity.
What is Ocean Bridge?
Ocean Bridge brings together young Canadians with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences who are passionate about making a difference in their communities through the lens of oceans and waterway conservation. These Ocean Bridge Ambassadors from all across Canada work together, receive funding and learn from experts in marine conservation and education through an online platform and in-person learning journeys to develop service projects related to ocean health and ocean literacy in communities across the country. Ocean Bridge is an Ocean Wise initiative funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps.
Direct Action is an exciting immersive program for in-depth learning and youth engagement with oceanic and aquatic conservation efforts across Canada. This national service-learning program will connect Canadian youth and young professionals with experts in marine and aquatic conservation organizations, empowering them with experiences in direct marine and aquatic conservation initiatives, adventurous opportunities for fieldwork, professional research projects, and educational and outreach programs.
Canada Service Corps
Canada Service Corps is designed to generate a culture of service among young Canadians; concrete results for communities; personal growth through participation in a diverse team of peers; and lasting impacts on participants. Visit www.canada.ca/CanadaServiceCorps to learn more and how to get involved in the way that works best for you.