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California Dreaming

Sea exChange
A draft proposal for working exchanges
between Australia and North America

I have recently been exploring the concept of a work exchange scheme for Australian and North American marine educators. My reason for doing so is based on experience gained during three study tours of marine centres and aquariums on the west coast of North America. On the most recent visit, in July of this year, I delivered a paper called Sea exChange at the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) conference held in Long Beach California.

The aim of the Sea exChange would be to develop a program that allows marine educators in North America and Australia (and possibly New Zealand) to establish partnerships by initially travelling to work with each other. It is proposed that the time spent overseas would be relatively brief - each member of a partnership would travel to work with his or her colleague for up to four weeks. Most importantly, the program would be designed to ensure that exchange visits would be start of long-term partnerships.

It is anticipated that exchanges would most likely be timed so that the northern hemisphere partner travels in the southern hemisphere summer in January or February. The return visit could similarly be timed for the northern hemisphere summer in July or August.

Participating Organizations

My initial concept for exchange partners included marine educators who worked at:

  • Aquariums and other marine theme attractions, such as zoos and museums.
  • Marine discovery centres, field stations, laboratories and other teaching or marine education facilities.
  • Government sponsored community based organizations. In Australia this would involve Coast Action and Coastcare regional coordinators.
  • Non-government sector, e.g. conservation societies, coastal and marine national parks and reserves, marine research facilities.

Initially, school teachers were left out because I couldn't think of an effective manner of exchange and because an exchange scheme (International Teaching Fellowships) already exists. However, following discussions with American teachers at the NMEA conference, the concept of combined student and teacher visits would be included as a separate component of Sea exchange.


At this stage I am drawing-up a formal proposal for Sea exChange to be jointly managed by National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) and the newly formed Australian Marine Education Alliance (AMEA). Clearly, MESA would also have a critical role in this project. I would be seeking sponsorship for administrative costs and sponsorship would also be sought to reduce or completely cover participant's air fares.

Participants would travel in their own leave time or with the blessing of their employer - hence no additional salary costs for host organisation. As far as accommodation overseas is concerned, it would be up to partners (traveller and his or her and host) to arrange accommodation. Host organizations would be responsible for office accommodation and other work related expenses.

As I am developing this proposal over the next few weeks, any comments or contributions would be appreciated - email to Harry Breidahl at deepsea@alphalink.com.au

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