The SCUBAnauts were invited to attend the Leadership Awards Dinner; put on by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for Capitol Hill Ocean Week in Washington D.C. The ‘nauts enjoyed a sustainable seafood meal while learning about important ocean issues, conservation strategy, and the leaders- scientists, volunteers, and congressional members, who devote their time and effort to these causes. A special honor was given to the ‘nauts in their recognition, alongside other esteemed organizations and individuals, at this awards dinner!

One of the most memorable moments of the 2011 CHOW trip was the Awards Dinner. Interesting to me was the fact that they were celebrating the 9th anniversary, when in fact last year at CHOW we celebrated the 10th anniversary. The reason for this was because the first year was not celebrated with a dinner. We met many very esteemed scientists and photographers, including Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Dan Basta, and Craig McLean. We also mingled with countless significant figures from the NOAA, along with other scientists. This is my second CHOW trip and favorite so far; I always enjoy coming here and meeting our role models.
~Colin Cassick, Tarpon Springs Chapter

The Awards Dinner over all was very pleasant. There were many influential people there that deserved awards. Out of the few who did receive awards, the person who received the Volunteer of the Year award, Randy Rudd, really stood out to me. He seemed like just your regular guy who had a deep and passionate love for the ocean, so much that he would do 126 dives within 6 months! That dedication and selflessness is very admirable. He wasn’t doing it for an award or credit, or for a certain club; he is in it for the general good of the environment. He has really inspired me to do more community service.
~Mary Silk, St. Petersburg Chapter

Capitol Hill Oceans Week (I can finally spell “capitol” now) is an experience where the messages have influenced and inspired me, and will continue to throughout my life. Despite getting up at 3:30 am to beat NYC traffic and nursing tender pink blisters, CHOW was the adventure of a lifetime. The dinner the first night was a major highlight, with its classy, high-authority guests and fantastic food. It was great to learn about the scientists being honored and, of course, to meet Senator John Kerry. The desserts were also fantastic.
~Sara Vannah, Lake Hitchcock Chapter

CHOW is an amazing experience where we learn more about the ocean and also have more doors opened up. The CHOW dinner was definitely the most inspiring event. It may have not been the most exciting, but it was the event where I learned the most. To see so many people who have accomplished great things in their lives, such as the conservationists, was incredibly inspiring.
~Cole Kolasa, Tarpon Springs Chapter

Compiled by Julienne Brown.