Showing posts tagged as "teen conservation leaders"

Living the Dream: Cancer Survivor to Teen Conservation Leader

By Tessa Terrill, Public Relations Intern

How often in life do things come full circle?

Seamus Morrison experienced a full-circle moment this summer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

He first came to the Aquarium in 2010 through the Make-A-Wish Foundation as an 11-year old with a life-threatening brain cancer – and a dream of becoming a marine biologist.  He went behind the scenes to feed the cuttlefishes, spent a morning talking to scientists with our partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and an afternoon with dolphins and seals at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz. He even took two scuba dives in our Great Tide Pool.

“It was really fun at the time, and I loved the experience,” he says.” But now it’s just so much more. I look back on it and I just think it was one of the best experiences of my life.” 

Cancer-free and riding the wave

Four years later, cancer-free and still riding the marine biology wave, he and his parents, James and Riad Morrison, packed their bags and made the trip from Ojai in southern California to spend the summer in Monterey so Seamus could follow his dream – as a Teen Conservation Leader (TCL) at the Aquarium.

George Matsumoto, Senior Research and Education Specialist at MBARI and his MBARI guide four years ago, is overjoyed that Seamus came back as a teen leader, and said Seamus told him how much he was growing through his participation in the program. 

When he was 10, Seamus was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called medulloblastoma. That didn’t dim his passion for diving headfirst into marine biology, a passion that was present since he was very young.

Ocean-ified Halloween

Seamus’s dad James, who has a successful career as an actor with roles in shows like “24” and “Revenge”, said that Seamus’s Halloween costumes have always been ocean-ified. 

One year, he was a scuba diver and even had a tank made of a cereal box that he would open with the pull of a cord to collect trick-or-treat candy!

For six weeks this summer, now 15-year-old Seamus took his passion and spread it among Aquarium guests as he shared stories about the range of sea life exhibited throughout the aquarium – including as a narrator for Kelp Forest feeding shows. 

When Seamus was getting ready to narrate the feeding one day, he was surprised to learn that the diver was the one who took him into the Great Tide Pool through Underwater Explorers four years ago. 

'An amazing journey'

“That (Make-A-Wish) experience and his continued relationship with the Aquarium have further inspired him toward the dream of one day becoming a real marine biologist,” says his mother, Riad. “It’s been and continues to be an amazing journey.” 

Seamus said he loves the Monterey Bay Aquarium because there’s “more stuff” here than at any other aquarium he’s visited.

He’s already taking action to build on his summer experience and help inspire ocean conservation. He’s emailed his teachers about a plan to create a conservation lab when he returns to school. He said his teachers are on board and he’ll talk to them this fall about how to make it a reality.

Learn more about our conservation leadership programs for teens

Help make our teen programs possible with your donation

(Photos by Randy Tunnell)

Visiting the Aquarium this summer? You’re likely to meet some of our Teen Conservation Leaders. As TCLs, students develop important job and life skills, build self-confidence and earn community service hours. You can’t miss their enthusiasm for our oceans!

Learn more about our teen programs

Ocean Advocate and Supermodel Marisa Miller

Honored at World Oceans Day Celebration

Nine years ago in Monterey, actor Paul Walker helped us celebrate World Oceans Day – sharing his personal connection with the ocean and encouraging visitors to do their part as ocean stewards.

Last Saturday, Paul’s daughter, Meadow Walker, was with us on another World Oceans Day weekend as we presented our inaugural Paul Walker Ocean Leadership Award to Marisa Miller – a Santa Cruz native, supermodel, actress and surfer who, like Paul, is a passionate advocate for healthy oceans.

"I’d like to say how humbled I am to receive this award from Paul’s family," Marisa said. "Paul’s love for the ocean and efforts to help protect it, have always been a huge inspiration to me personally, so it’s a honor to receive this award in his name."

Positive ocean experiences

"I also want to thank the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have been coming to this Aquarium since I was in grade school. It was the field trip my friends and I looked forward to the most. Having these positive experiences at a young age really paved my path to having an awareness for the ocean and its wildlife."

"I’m encouraged to see so many people here today, supporting and celebrating World Oceans Day. The Aquarium’s dedication to programs to preserve and protect our oceans is helping us all to make change."

"Since becoming a mother – my son is 17 months old – I’m appreciating more than ever how important it is to instill awareness, and encourage simple choices that have lasting positive effects."

"I hope we can all feel empowered by that fact that we can make choices and live a lifestyle that bring positive growth to our beautiful oceans. This is how Paul Walker lived his life and paved the way for future generations." 

Other ocean award winners

At the ceremonies, we also recognized one of our Teen Conservation Leaders, Ailis Dooner, with a Youth award. This weekend, we’ll present a second Paul Walker Ocean Leadership award to singer and philanthropist Jack Johnson during our 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Ocean. Paul’s brothers Cody and Caleb will be part of the event.

We’re so proud to work with the Walker family, and proud of the contributions that Marisa, Jack and Ailis are making to a future with healthy oceans.

Learn how we’re helping create healthy oceans.

Goodbye to our 2013 Teen Conservation Leaders

What did you do during your summer vacation? 110 active and ambitious teens participated in our 2013 Teen Conservation Leaders (TCL) program, which wraps this week. The teens worked throughout the Aquarium as visitor guides, as well as mentors to younger teens in other educational programs.

The TCL program emphasizes service learning and youth development, encouraging students to grow in their knowledge of the ocean while learning communication and social skills. As the core of the teen programs at the Aquarium, TCL inspires students to cultivate their love of the ocean and take action on its behalf. The students also gain community service hours, professional skills, self-confidence, and new friends.

As we say goodbye, here’s a glimpse of what they learned this year, in their own words.

— Story and pictures by Emily Long (with help from some Teen Conservation Leaders!)

He’s still at it! Dr. Steve Webster was one of the founders of the Aquarium in 1984 and you can see him onsite narrating auditorium programs, giving lectures and helping  educate our guides. Here he is on graduation day for our Teen Conservation Leaders program, on the nearby site of the old Chinese fishing village. 
Learn more about teen programs.
Explore our history.

He’s still at it! Dr. Steve Webster was one of the founders of the Aquarium in 1984 and you can see him onsite narrating auditorium programs, giving lectures and helping  educate our guides. Here he is on graduation day for our Teen Conservation Leaders program, on the nearby site of the old Chinese fishing village. 

Learn more about teen programs.

Explore our history.

About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.