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Marine Option Program representatives from across the UH System

The Marine Option Program (MOP)—a University of Hawaiʻi systemwide certificate program that provides educational opportunities for students from all disciplines who are interested in the ocean—held its first in-person gathering since 2019 in April at Leeward Community College. The 40th MOP Symposium featured the research and internship work of 19 students from UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, Honolulu CC, Kapiʻolani CC and Leeward CC.

The hybrid format allowed students and faculty from abroad to participate. Leeward CC is also seeking to draw more attention to its campus’ program.

“With its proximity to wetlands and the harbor, Leeward is an ideal setting for a gathering of Marine Option Program students and coordinators from across the state,” said UH Mānoa MOP Director Cindy Hunter. “We hope to see MOP grow at Leeward CC!”

Student awardees included:

  • Best Research Paper: Caden Christensen (UH Hilo), “High Elevation Surveys for ʻuaʻu Burrows on Mauna Kea”
  • Best Internship Paper: Chloe Malou (UH Hilo), “University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Seawords Liaison”
  • Best Poster: Emma DeBenedictis (UH Mānoa), “Enhancing Marine Stewardship Through Various Forms of Education Outreach”
  • John P. Craven Award: Hayley Luke (Leeward CC), “He Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina
  • PACON International, Hawaiʻi Chapter, MOP Symposium Award: Madison Coelho (UH Hilo), “Developing Theodolite Workshops For MOP And Secondary Students”
  • Sherwood Maynard Award for Ocean Impact: Sidney Lewis (UH Hilo), “Hawaiʻi Island Fishing Line Recycling & Public Education Program”
  • Anna Toy Ng Memorial MOP Scholarship: Savannah Crosby (UH Mānoa) and Sidney Lewis (UH Hilo)

The keynote speaker was Athline Clark, who recently retired as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from UH Mānoa. Clark shared her academic and professional journey during her presentation, while encouraging students to explore different fields of interest, explaining that their path, like hers, might not be a straight line.

The symposium also provided students with an opportunity to grow as ocean stewards and make connections with future graduate advisors and employers.

“I am honored to be part of this amazing program and I am constantly inspired by the students’ passion for the ocean and their drive to make the world a better place,” said Alyssa MacDonald, Leeward CC’s MOP coordinator.

By Tad Saiki

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