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Ocean-lovers Wanted!

Dear people of the Marianas,

We sincerely hope that whatever was your experience with Super Typhoon Yutu, that you are finding your way back and that life is getting back to some kind of normal for you and your families. In the aftermath of ongoing recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu, we humbly ask you to work with us to do what is possible to keep pushing our vision to protect the ocean.

Through the years, we’ve always considered everyone who cares about the ocean as already a member of the Friends of the Mariana Trench, but today, as our organization grows we need to take the next steps in formalizing our membership. We are conducting a membership drive and ask those who are interested to join us. If you are an ocean-lover, please email us at marianamonument@gmail.com to request an invitation to our application process.

This time last year, our organization was selected to receive a mentoring grant from the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA). We also attended a workshop hosted by the NRWA to give us a chance to learn from other Friends’ groups in the Pacific. In this workshop we were able to identify our challenges and refine a possible pathway for the near future. The next workshop will take place in Alaska later this year.

Working with the NWRA staff, we identified that we are experiencing a typical organizational life-cycle, which is common for NGOs who are 7-10 years old. The NWRA staff indicated that this is not new and that they have a toolbox for exactly this purpose. It’s also why it’s so important for us to network with other friend’s groups in the Pacific. We can share our experiences and learn from each other.

Two NWRA board members were assigned to our Friends group. They are helping mentor us and helping us identify a capacity building plan. We have monthly calls to discuss the progress on our objectives. One of the objectives of this project is recruiting fresh members and formalizing our membership process. Once we reach our target, then the NWRA will send these mentors to help us with training and further planning. We are excited for our mentors to visit us in the next couple of months and for them to help us set out a strategic plan for the next few years. We hope that as an ocean-lover, you too can be a part of this.

Becoming a formal member means that you will help decide the kinds of projects we work on – projects that fit with our vision statement. You can help with planning and staffing outreach events to provide marine conservation education to our community, you can write articles for our blog, you can help design education tools and activities, and you can be an active volunteer at events that we coordinate with the community. As a volunteer you would decide what kinds of projects you want to be involved with and how much time you want to volunteer. We are looking for members with all different kinds of backgrounds who share the common vision that our ocean is our most precious natural resource. We need to help our children and our grandchildren realize the value of what we have so that they can continue to protect it when we are no longer able to do it for them. It is our responsibility to foster the next generation of ocean-loving stewards.

I will leave it here for today. Our next letter or article will talk about our projects and ideas. If you are interested in becoming more active and to help us, again please email marianamonument@gmail.com or fill out our member application survey here.

As always – si yu’use ma’ase, olomwaay, salamat po, thank you, and God bless

Ignacio V. “Ike” Cabrera

I Akgak