Marine Conservation and Policy students had an exciting opportunity to meet with the current Policy Program Manager, Noah Chesnin, for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) New York Seascape Program, which operates out of the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn. Chesnin shared his thoughts about the work he does at the aquarium, part of which involves bridging the gaps between science, education and public policy. The educational programs offered at the aquarium play an essential role in this process, through raising public awareness of important conservation issues.
Chesnin expressed that a major problem when trying to promote environmental conservation to New Yorkers is that most associate being a New Yorker with the city, while the coastal habitat surrounding the city gets less attention. Part of Chesnin’s work with the aquarium involves expanding this limited field of vision and reconnecting the public with the wonderful world that exists in the waters just outside the city. Reaching out to visitors at the aquarium is critical in achieving this.
From Chesnin’s visit, students learned the importance of public outreach and how connecting with the public can be very effective in creating change. The key, according to Chesnin, is to “figure out how to reach people wherever they are,” to let them know what they can do, and most importantly to get them to care enough about it to take action. This is a great goal for MCP students to take with them as they enter the field of marine conservation.