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Ocean Awards Gala

Matt Ryb Photography

JUNE 5, 2018 | Washington, D.C.

Mingle with more than 500 ocean and Great Lakes community leaders and support national marine sanctuaries at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year! The pinnacle event of Capitol Hill Ocean Week®, the Ocean Awards Gala celebrates the impact that sanctuaries make for ocean and Great Lakes conservation, and pays tribute to inspiring people who advance sustainable solutions that are critical to a healthy ocean.

You’ll connect to the top names and faces of the marine and Great Lakes community from every corner of the U.S. Even better, it’s your ticket ‘in’ to conserve unique marine and Great Lakes ecosystems, to bolster programs that help kids experience sanctuaries and teach people about these special places, and to join us in protecting the species that call these places home.

Please join us in supporting marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries: become a sponsor.

The Ocean Awards

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation presents three awards annually at the Ocean Awards Gala. In 2017, the Foundation added a new award to recognize a corporation or foundation for it efforts to support marine and Great Lakes conservation.

  • The Leadership Award

    Representative Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon’s 1st District received this year’s Leadership Award for her leadership and strong voice in Congress for ocean conservation and restoration, including sustainable fisheries, ocean science, marine debris and pollution prevention, climate change and ocean acidification. Support for environmental stewardship is a hallmark of her public service.

    The Leadership Award honors political leaders who demonstrate a commitment to ocean, coastal and Great Lakes stewardship. Through their work on policy and governance, Leadership Award honorees elevate attention of the marine and Great Lakes environment through support of sound science and conservation. They champion change and action to protect these environments and their natural and cultural resources for future generations. Previous recipients have included President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Senator Ted Stevens.

  • The Lifetime Achievement Award

    This year, Roger and Vicki Sant were recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Roger and Vicki are committed to a world where people thrive and nature flourishes. Through their work at The Summit Foundation, they are fostering local leadership in conservation  to improve the lives of people and ecosystems, with an emphasis in Mesoamerica.

    The Lifetime Achievement Award honors those whose work has exceptional impact on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes science, conservation, exploration, and/or policy. Past recipients include Dr. Robert Ballard, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Adm. James D. Watkins, the Hon. Leon Panetta, and numerous other government leaders, academics, and conservationists.

  • The Volunteer of the Year Award

    This year’s Volunteer of the Year is Kevin Powers. Kevin is a dedicated volunteer at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In 2016, he contributed over 1,000 hours of service to support seabird research and conservation efforts and to engage the public in the sanctuary’s work to the public.

    The Volunteer of the Year Award honors a National Marine Sanctuary System volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to their local national marine sanctuary. The recipient is chosen from the top honorees recognized each year by their individual sanctuaries across the entire National Marine Sanctuary System. See previous recipients.

  • The Conservation Innovation Award

    Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) received the first-ever Conservation Innovation award for their work in using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to better understand and visualize the marine environment. Esri’s commitment to the scientific community and active role in research captures the spirit of this new award.

    The Conservation Innovation Award, a new award for 2017, recognizes a company or foundation for their significant contributions to marine and Great Lakes conservation and the protection of natural and cultural resources through the support of sound science, exploration, policy-making, advocacy, and/or innovative partnerships.