When she’s not teaching youngsters about the importance of our marine environment for the Center for Coastal Oceans Research, Analisa Duran can be found scuba diving anywhere between Palm Beach and the Keys and volunteering to help protect our marine species and preserve their ecosystems. Duran is CCOR’s newest education and outreach program coordinator.
“Connecting science with the community, teaching people and sharing my passion with others is my absolute favorite thing to do and I think that is how we’re going to save our planet.”Analisa Duran
Totally by accident and at just 16 years old, Duran began working part-time with the Miami Seaquarium in their education department. She was tasked with supporting the outreach efforts: going from one place to another teaching children about the importance of protecting our sea turtles, manatees and overall marine environments. She did this for a few years and then found herself promoted to education specialist and soon after, education manager, leading all the education programs for the Miami Seaquarium. Duran was destined for sharing her knowledge of marine life and environmental stewardship to anyone who would listen. Duran spent nine years at the marine life park in their education department.
“Education and outreach play a huge role in inspiring environmental stewards and understanding what we need to protect or how we should better live our lives for the environment,” says Duran.
Her passion for marine life and the spaces they inhabit has always been with her. As a native Miamian, Duran was always surrounded by the beauty of the ocean and the creatures it holds. She couldn’t help but notice that, as she grew older, this beauty was being threatened. In an effort to protect the places and creatures she loves, Duran found herself explaining its complex workings and critical importance to everyone around her.
She found that teaching others was an effective way to spread awareness for the need to conserve and protect our vulnerable marine ecosystems. But being a teacher isn’t all that Duran spends her time doing. She is also a certified Florida Master Naturalist, is part of the Marine Animal Rescue Society and is a Marine Turtle Surveyor for Miami-Dade County. She has no shortage of experience when it comes to marine life, whether it’s waking up before sunrise to ensure that baby sea turtles make their way uninterrupted to the water or helping stranded dolphins and beached whales get safely back to the ocean.
In addition to working and volunteering, Duran is also pursuing a Masters in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida. She already holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from FIU, but decided she wanted to learn more about the technical scientific side of the marine species and environments that peak her curiosity.
“Conservation and education go hand in hand,” Duran explains. “You can’t really begin conservation efforts for something unless you know about what it is you’re trying to conserve.”
Along that same vein, Duran was awarded with a grant from the NOAA Planet Stewards Education Project. For six months, she will receive one-on-one guidance in designing, implementing and evaluating a teaching program around the topic of marine debris. She will teach 5th grade students in Title 1 schools about the dangers of marine debris, and ways to mitigate the issue. This will include a scientific beach cleanup where they will sort the debris they find and use an app developed by NOAA to contribute to a global citizen science project. She hopes this will give young potential environmental stewards a better understanding of why they should care about our oceans and marine life.
Her love and passion for the marine environment is evident. Duran hopes to expand and improve upon current programs within CCOR, as well as introduce exciting new initiatives for the FIU and larger community to get more involved in direct marine conservation efforts.
The Center for Coastal Oceans Research provides unique educational opportunities and serves as a marine-related research hub for conservation, preservation and action-oriented solutions for some of our ocean’s most pressing challenges. It is housed within the Institute of Water and Environment, which is dedicated to addressing global water and environmental issues.