Capitol Hill Ocean Week has taught me a lot.  I learned about environmental issues and how to approach them, the government and how it works, and my fellow SCUBAnauts. A couple of environmental issues that stuck out to me were ocean acidity, pollution, damage to ocean floors from anchors, and rising sea levels.  Possible solutions included reducing carbon output and developing biodegradable bottles and packaging, enforcing laws to make boats use mooring buoys rather then anchors, and to invest in research and innovation. Furthermore, we were lucky enough to sit in the gallery and watch the House of Representative vote, meet Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL14), and Congressman David Jolly (R-FL13).  From these experiences I learned that our politicians are focused on listening to the public and doing their best to create change where need be.  I also learned from a CHOW panel that our Congress has become divided and dysfunctional due to a lack of knowledge of environmental issues. Ultimately, the most fun came from getting to know my peers in this group more closely.  Since I am new to SNI, before this trip, I didn’t even know my peers in my own chapter and after spending a week with them I now know them far too well.  Even with all the crazy, loud, excitement, I am reassured I belong to this group. I am proud to be a member of the SCUBAnauts and thankful for this amazing opportunity.  I hope to attend CHOW next year and look forward to learning more positive news and exciting solutions.
~Najma Tyehimba, age 17, Tampa Chapter

SCUBAnauts share concerns about ocean issues at Senator Mikulski’s office
CHOW has been an amazing experience for me and my fellow SCUBAnauts.  I have opened my eyes to many problems facing our planets waters.  A certain problem that I have taken an interest in is ocean acidification, which is the lowering of pH in the water due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2).  In addition to learning about this and other threats, I am happy to have learned about possible solutions and ways we can help.  As well I am very happy to have had the opportunity to spend more time with my fellow SCUBAnauts, and learn both what they are passionate about, and what they plan to do in the future. This trip has opened my eyes to an array of possibilities for the future that I hope to pursue.  The best part of the trip was the great people in the ocean conservation community. Congressmen David Jolly, and biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle were both very inspirational to listen to and I hope I get another chance.
~Gabriel Cohn, age 17, Tampa Chapter
I am very glad I went on this trip. In these few days, I have seen a plethora of unique opportunities that I can take. Through our meetings, I found many ways to help Earth’s oceans and wildlife.
~Michael Murphy, age 16, Tarpon Springs Chapter

SCUBAnauts meet renowned coral biologist, Dr. Nancy Knowlton at CHOW 2014

During CHOW, I got the opportunity to talk to many different people from senators to researchers to huge environmental groups such as NOAA, AGU and many others. For instance, I talked to Dr. Kathryn Sullivan who works for NOAA as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. Dr. Sullivan was very interested in what I had to say. She was even asked me questions about my individual research projects. Along with Dr. Sullivan I had the chance to listen to Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Representative Kathy Castor talk about their jobs and how they help the oceans and what they plan on doing to help the oceans in the future. Congresswomen Kathy Castor was a very positive person who cared about everything you had to say, which for young kids, such as teenagers, that means a lot. It makes you think you can do something to make the world a better place. One of my first meetings was with Ocean Conservancy which a lot of people don’t know about. Ocean Conservancy does a lot to help protect the oceans and save them from what the future holds for them as of today. Talking to them about their ocean acidification solutions and the fact that they have a whole group just working on that one topic amazed me. I got to spend a whole day talking to the different groups in NOAA, which was the best part. I learned many different things that I would never had guess NOAA did. Over all being able to talk to all of these people was a great and informative experience and I enjoyed every bit of it!
~Taylor Rejsek, age 16, Tampa Chapter, SNI

SCUBAnauts talk about ocean issues at the Ocean Conservancy