Community, Environment, News

Weekend Art Sea program aims to educate youth on environment conservation

ArtSea crowd with Sebastian .png

Photo Courtesy: Diana Larrea

When she was 6 years old, Haley Plaas fell in love on a trip to Sea World. The object of her affection: Shamu the killer whale.

Plaas’ interest in sea life ultimately led to a major in marine science and biology, but it also instilled in her a passion for sea conservation.

On March 3, Plaas will be among 50 other Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science students working with local children in an event called Art Sea, an annual beachside program to educate them about an important but endangered habitat – the ocean.

“Our vision is that if we can help kids at an early age appreciate and understand the ocean and how it works, then when they are older, they will want to conserve it and make conscious efforts to help protect the ocean,” Plaas said.

Plaas and the other UM volunteers are members of Ocean Kids, a STEM outreach program founded 10 years ago by RSMAS professor Jill Richardson.

Richardson said she founded Ocean Kids because she wanted to work with her students to share scientific discoveries in marine science with children and inspire a love for the ocean.

“The goal was to embrace community and help undergrads recognize responsibility,” Richardson said. “It has been amazing to see how many UM students are dedicated to their community.”

Plaas, a junior, has been an active member since her freshman year.

“The whole premise of Ocean Kids is that we are trying to create the next generation of students and kids who love the ocean and want to help protect it,” she said.

For the past two years, Ocean Kids has collaborated with Big Blue & You, a local nonprofit co-founded by RSMAS alumna Danni Washington in 2008, for the event.

The five-hour event begins at 11 a.m. at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and offers a variety of activities, from beach cleanup and yoga to interactive marine-science-themed stations led by UM students. Each station will feature a local artist who will help the kids create their own art pieces, which will be displayed at the end of the event.

ArtSea 2017 crowd.png

Photo Courtesy: Diana Larrea

Last year, the event had a squid dissection tank and a “Sleeping Beauties” station, which showcased a toadfish that would fall asleep when turned upside down. Kids were able to put their hands in the tank and turn the toadfish themselves.

“When you have an animal for those kids to interact with that they get to touch themselves … you get a really awesome response,” Plaas said. “That’s when they freak out.”

Rachel Sandquist, a member of the Ocean Kids executive board, said she enjoys bringing Ocean Kids and Art Sea together to inspire kids.

Mocha Mermaid (middle) pictured with Plastic Free Mermaids Keyla and Kimberly Correia.png

Photo Courtesy: Diana Larrea

“You can take everything you’ve learned about marine science and show stuff to kids for the first time,” said Sandquist, a sophomore majoring in marine science and microbiology. “They are leaving the event with a different perspective.”

Students interested in volunteering at Art Sea on March 3 can email Richardson at, Plaas at or Sandquist at The event will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr.

March 1, 2018


Sabrina Ullman

Around the Web
  • Error
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: fsocket timed out

UM alumna Shirley Hoffman Kilkelly was one of the few women engineers who worked on the Apollo 11 mo ...

College of Engineering alumnus Frank DeMattia was just 21 years old when he went to work at NASA on ...

Registered dietitian Stephanie Sanchez shares realistic, healthy ways to get you on track and headed ...

The overnight pre-orientation program – now in its 30th year – welcomes newly admitted first-year co ...

Apollo 11 astronaut’s moonwalk, which took place 50 years ago Saturday, is remembered by members of ...

Redshirt senior wide receiver K.J. Osborn was among six ACC players named to The Biletnikoff Award W ...

Dane Dunlap, William Grattan-Smith and Franco Aubone were each selected as All-Academic Scholar Athl ...

Two Miami Hurricanes were among those players selected to the preseason watch list for the 25th annu ...

The ITA released Thursday its academic accolades for the 2018-19 season and the University of Miami ...

ESPN Events announced Thursday afternoon the bracket for the 2019 Charleston Classic, set to take pl ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.