Following on from– The interview was officially over but Jean Michel Cousteau and I still had a chance to discuss Ocean Futures Society other projects. We essentially covered the programs that had to do with education, since we both believe education is a corner stone to the success of any environmental program.
"The Ambassador of the Environment Project’s goal is to reconnect the youth with nature," Jean-Michel explained. The first camp was set up in Catalina Island off of the coast of California near the Channel Island Marine Park. The summer camp invites children from all around the U.S. to come and experience the way of sustainable living involving high tech advancements that the 21st century provides. The camps are fully powered by solar panels and water conservation is not only taught, but also an applied discipline (i.e. waterless urinals).
Young students spend their days with a staff of naturalists doing various activities including hiking and skin diving along with slide shows and discussions; all centered on learning more about different ecosystems and how inter-related they all are. "Students are shown important principles of biological and ecological sciences and how they relate to ecosystem sustainability." Jean-Michel also emphasized that when children go back to their houses after the camp they pass on what they learn to other young ones and also adults, which is what makes Jean-Michel so enthusiastic about the program, "The knowledge taught is not limited to the camp premises." He also believes it is a necessity to develop similar programs around the country and around the world. You can find more detailed information on the Ambassadors of the Environment at http://www.aote.org
We went on to discuss a program that shares similar roots with the "Ambassador" program, but on a more global scale. "Sustainable Reefs is an educational program aimed at coastal communities and island nations." Jean-Michel explained to me how Ocean Futures thought to develop a multi-media package that would be distributed "Free of charge by Ocean Futures and its sponsors" to coastal areas where coral reef ecosystems are at risk. This package will include a video, a cartoon book "Treasure of the Reef", and a guidebook for teachers. The video will be available in the native language of the community and be "culturally appropriate."
Promoting sustainable living and protection of the coral reef by inviting local heroes to carry the message shows Ocean Futures Society’s ingenuity. Everyday heroes in our society have been appointed to promote a pack of chips or a soda can on TV and, in the long run, we seem to listen to them and buy the chips and the soda. So when it comes to a good cause like saving our planet (but most of all ourselves!) Jean-Michel truly believes it will make a difference. "The financial side of the project will be possible by raising money from big corporations and philanthropic individuals who will buy the package for a whole archipelago of islands or even better a whole zone like the Caribbean for example". This project is decisive in a time when the coral reef ecosystem is extremely at risk. Researchers discover every day possible cures for long term illnesses, thanks to this fabulous ecosystem. So if you want to be a part of this project log onto http://www.oceanfutures.org and go to "Sustainable Reefs: A Global Initiative".
I did remember most of our short talks. We also chatted about other filming projects and joked seriously (if there is such a thing) on how the dive industry was "not sexy enough" to be fully successful. I have read a lot of articles on Jean-Michel Cousteau, good and bad ones. I can tell you only one thing from my time spent with him in his universe, he is a truly passionate individual and Ocean Futures Society’s multiple projects are a living proof of his devotion to the protection of our Oceans.