Getting Started As A Volunteer Ocean Educator

Children are naturally curious and have a desire to learn about our oceans. Volunteering to share your firsthand experience of the underwater world is a great way to help get our youth started on a path towards ocean stewardship.

Schools welcome interesting speakers to talk to their classes, and the opportunity is often just a phone call away.

Getting started is easy:

  • Get involved at the beginning of the school year. This will give the school and teacher(s) time to fully utilize your knowledge when crafting their lesson plans;
  • Call the school and speak to the principal or administrator. Introduce yourself and describe your experiences as a diver or naturalist, and offer your time and as an Oceans for Youth Foundation volunteer Ocean Educator.
  • Ask the Principal which grade levels and classes your proposed presentation would be best suited for.
  • You'll likely be introduced to a teacher(s) so the two of you can discuss how your experiences as a diver or naturalist can supplement the required curriculum. Let them know what type of educational materials you can provide, including the Oceans for Youth Foundation materials that we offer on line.

School Rules and Administrative Requirements:

  • Before you begin volunteering, expect to complete a background check before you are cleared to enter any classroom. This process may be as simple as being fingerprinted and photographed.
  • School volunteers are usually asked to sign in at the main office and obtain a visitor’s pass. In some schools, a security guard escorts visitors to the classroom.
  • Comply with school rules regarding student safety, ask the principal or administrator to review all policies that pertain to volunteers.

Tips for Going Back to School:

  • It doesn’t pay to get in over your head, whether underwater or on land. When starting out as an OFY volunteer Ocean Educator, start with lower grade students and classes. High schoolers can be a tough audience.
  • Speak from your personal experience and back it up with a little research.
  • Cater your presentation to the age and development level of the class. A good way is to check out a textbook from the school’s library and review it. Ask the teacher for tips on how you can incorporate the lesson plan into your presentation.
  • You will likely have a narrow time slot in which to give your presentation so use one of the short videos that allows you to give any length presentation. Be sure to save a few minutes at the end for questions from the class.
  • Make sure you stay in control of this time by directing the Q&A. Don’t be afraid to maintain control of the class by reminding them to stay seated, raise their hands, etc. They’re accustomed to structure and will accept direction when it’s given in a firm but positive way. If necessary, ask the teacher to assist you in keeping things on track.

If you are a scuba diver a tank and regulator may be a hit in the classroom as an additional prop, and to explain how divers remain underwater. Hitting the purge button is always a hit.

It’s a good idea to phone the school in a few days in advance of your presentation to make sure audiovisual equipment like a TV or computer will be in the classroom or the presentation room.

Invite Yourself Back:

At the conclusion of your presentation, be sure to thank the students and the teacher for allowing you to spend time in the classroom. Let them know that you’d love to visit again.

Stay Involved and Get Others Involved:

There’s no such thing as too many volunteers in our schools. Be sure to tell your friends and dive buddies about how you are helping bring the marine environment into the classroom.

Thank you for taking the message of ocean awareness and conservation to kids. As more people experience the ocean, our marine environments stand a greater chance of being effectively protected.

Good luck with your presentations. We hope these tips help and thank you.