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The Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association (MAMEA) honored Lisa Ayers Lawrence of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science with the 2014 Informal Educator Award at the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) Conference in July.
MAMEA—a regional chapter of NMEA—is an organization of people with the common goal of improving education pertaining to all aspects of marine and aquatic environments. Each year, MAMEA honors outstanding marine educators from the mid-Atlantic region, one classroom teacher, and one informal educator.
VIMS Marine Education Specialist Carol Hopper Brill and Sarah Nuss, Education Coordinator for the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve at VIMS and current MAMEA President, nominated Lawrence for the award. Hopper Brill says she can think of few people—regionally and nationally—so central to connecting teachers with marine science resources as Lawrence. “Lisa’s an inspiring mentor to many marine educators both new and experienced in the field,” adds Nuss.
Lawrence says she was completely surprised and couldn’t have been more delighted to receive the award. “This organization is so special to me,” she says. “MAMEA is a fantastic group of educators who I’m so proud to work alongside. Their passion and dedication to marine education inspire me, and re-energize my own work.”
A 1996 graduate of William & Mary’s School of Marine Science at VIMS, Lawrence joined the VIMS staff as a marine education specialist in 1998, and has served as leader of the marine education program for VIMS’ Marine Advisory Services since 2012.
“Lisa’s creativity, competence, and can-do attitude have contributed to the success of educational projects at VIMS and beyond,” says Hopper Brill.
Lawrence has been actively involved with MAMEA since 1998, and currently serves as chair of the membership committee in addition to her role as the official Webkeeper. “Lisa’s very active in the Association, and is always making sure that things are running smoothly,” says Hopper Brill.
In her role as Webkeeper, Lawrence assists with the organization of state mini-conferences, as well as registration for the annual conference. She has also mentored new MAMEA presidents following her three-year service as President-elect, President, and Past-President from 2010-2012.
“Lisa’s knowledge of the marine education world consistently assists MAMEA through her work on committees, which leads to a very successful organization,” says Nuss. “Her knowledge also guides other marine educators towards new initiatives and continual improvement and expansion of marine education.”
As VIMS extension staff affiliated with Virginia Sea Grant, Lawrence has been vital to the management of a nationally recognized, award-winning online ocean science education resource center called “The Bridge”. Supported by the National Sea Grant Office, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), and the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), The Bridge provides teacher-reviewed resources in marine science. Additionally, Lawrence supports the National Working Waterfront Network’s web-based tool and portal, organizes the Accessing Coastal Virginia online resource center, participates in the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Network, and much more.
Hopper Brill says Lawrence’s work has earned her a number of recognitions and awards, including the Mid-Atlantic Sea Grant Marine Extension Network Outstanding Achievement Award in 2003. In 2004, Lawrence received the NMEA President’s Award for her work on The Bridge. She also received recognition for her work with Accessing the Virginia Coast, and received the BoatUS Recreational Boating Access Award in 2010.
“Lisa’s competency has been vital to MAMEA, and to national and international efforts promoting marine science as a multi-disciplinary approach to science education,” says Hopper Brill. “She’s most deserving of this award.”
The Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association represents marine science educators in the classroom, at research institutions, aquariums, museums, and governmental agencies from North Carolina to Delaware. Membership is available for anyone interested in marine and aquatic education. Visit the MAMEA website for additional information: www.mamea.org.