School kids out of class rooms

The youth are the future. This is so true, especially in the field of marine conservation. And how best to tell kids how to protect our native Bothnian Bay, than to drag them out of their classrooms and off of their smart phones, and take them into nature and show what marine biologists really do.

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Essi showing the diving gear to pupils. Photo by Ashley Gipson, Metsähallitus.

Metsähallitus was contacted by Myllytulli school and asked, if we could tell them what Marine biologist do at Metsähallitus, and give a bit of information about the state and conservation of the Bothnian Bay. We invited them to join us on an island near Oulu City Center, Finland, and come see for themselves, what we do.

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Pupils testing the water binoculars. Photo by Ashley Gipson, Metsähallitus.

Four classes of seventh-graders and a class of ninth-graders joined us along with Oulu Marine Search and Rescue for a day by the sea. We told them that we study the underwater nature so that we would know better, how to protect the sea and its species and nature types, as well as, how to do marine spatial planning together with our Swedish partners. We showed them our scuba diving equipment. They got to put the video camera into the brown river delta water and see for themselves, what it looks like on the computer. They even got to practice what to do if someone falls into water and they’d have to perform a rescue.

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Suvi jumping into the water so that the pupils can rescue her. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

We also attended a youth day, Toivon Agenda 2030, which was part of a European sustainable development week. Approximately 1500 school kids and teachers attended the event, and many of them wanted to see our equipment and hear about the work we do.

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Toivon Agensa 2030 event in Oulu. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

At the same time, we promoted the European Maritime Day #EMD2018. EMD is celebrated annually across Europe to raise awareness of maritime sectors and support an integrated approach to maritime affairs. What better way to celebrate this day than to talk about the SEAmBOTH project and our co-operation between the two countries and different maritime sectors!

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Promoting European Maritime Day and SEAmBOTH. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

The week climaxed with a school visit to Ritaharju school in Oulu, where more than a hundred seventh-graders had taken water samples from local lakes, rivers and the Bothnian Bay in the fall and spring and analyzed the water. They invited a Metsähallitus marine biologist to tell them more about the Bothnian Bay, its species and conservation status, and what they personally could do to protect the sea better. They asked a lot of questions, and the school was interested in further project work with our neighboring country colleagues from Sweden. We do, after all, share the same volume of water in the Northern Bothnian Bay.

Written by Essi Keskinen

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