Marco Island Discovery Center Signs Agreement With Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society

MARCO ISLAND, FL The Marco Island Discovery Center, Inc. (MIDC) President, Lynne Irvine, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society on August 1, 2009 to open an Ambassadors of the Environment (AOTE) camp on Marco Island in June 2011. The Marco Island Discovery Center Board of Directors is working to create a three-way partnership between the Ambassadors of the Environment eco-adventure camp; the Marco Island Academy, a 9-12 grade charter high school; and the Marco Island Discovery Center, a hands-on, inter-generational community center for the arts and sciences. The synergy of purpose and between the three founding partners will expand cultural and educational opportunities for all ages on Marco Island.

Ocean Futures Society Director of Science and Education, Dr. Richard Murphy, visited Marco Island from July 23-24, 2009 to explore the natural and cultural resources of the region available for the AOTE eco-adventure camp. Having traveled to the far corners of the planet, both above and below water, Murphy uses his observations to create hands-on educational programs. He believes “a better understanding of how nature works can not only promote an appreciation for the value of our natural heritage, but can also help guide the next generation in living more sustainably on the planet.” Murphy met with the MIDC Board members Lynne Irvine, Jane Watt, and Tara Hagan; with Marco Island city officials; and with Gary Lytton, Environmental Administrator, and Susan Cone, Education Coordinator for the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to explain the Ambassadors of the Environment program. With the help of Captain John Campbell and Scuba Marco, Murphy also toured the island by boat.

For more than four decades Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Murphy have worked together exploring the ocean, educating people, and inspiring an attitude of stewardship toward the natural environment. According to Cousteau, “People protect what they love.” Realizing that “We can’t protect what we don’t yet understand,” Cousteau has dedicated the Ocean Futures Society’s Ambassadors program to advancing the Cousteau legacy to a world increasingly in need of information and inspiration. According to Cousteau, “We expect everyone to return to their communities as environmental stewards or ambassadors of the environment.”

Currently, the Ambassadors program offers three, four, and seven-day residential camps to students, teachers, and families
from around the globe in California, Hawaii, the Grand Cayman Islands, Brazil, Greece, and on board the Regents Seven Seas cruise ships in Alaska, and French Polynesia. Marco Island is one of two sites in the planning stages in Florida.

The next phase of planning for the Ambassadors of the Environment collaboration includes sponsoring Dr. Murphy’s return to Marco Island to complete a ten-day field assessment of the region to establish a hands-on environmental curriculum and training manual specific to the region. The Marco Island Discovery Center is currently seeking financial support for the Ambassadors of the Environment eco-adventure camp, the Marco Island Academy, and the Marco Island Discovery Center. They are also seeking a site to build a LEED Certified ‘green’ campus, which will be shared by the three founding partners.

The Marco Island Discovery Center is working with the Ocean Futures Society to bring Jean-Michel Cousteau to Marco Island for a fund-raiser this winter.