Aquarium Awards Youth Scholarship

Aquarium's Passages of the Deep exhibitThe Oregon Coast Aquarium strives to promote marine conservation and stewardship at every turn, particularly through its interpretative and educational programs. What better way, then, to foster the next generation of oceanographers than by offering a scholarship supporting youth who volunteer at the Aquarium? This year’s Ocean Steward Celebration—the Aquarium’s annual fundraiser in Portland on May 12, 2016—marks the inaugural presentation of the Schlesinger-Thrasher Ocean Steward Scholarship.

The $2000 scholarship is the brainchild of Ken Thrasher and Barry Schlesinger, dedicated Aquarium board members impressed and inspired by the Aquarium’s educational programs. “They saw an opportunity to link the Aquarium’s efforts with the broader educational community,” said Caryl Zenker, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Development, who organizes the event.

“The Aquarium’s amazing volunteers and staff support the inquisitive minds of young people, and spur their interests in the sciences,” said Ken Thrasher. “The Schlesinger-Thrasher scholarship will help enable a student to take their interests in marine science to a higher level in college, and hopefully to a career in the science field.” The scholarship is tailored toward local students pursuing a college degree, particularly those involved with the Aquarium’s volunteer programs. Potential honorees are asked to describe how volunteering for the Aquarium impacted them personally, and how the experience will help further their goals.

As in last year’s Celebration, the Aquarium will also commemorate its past supporters by presenting the Al Gleason Ocean Steward Award, named for Aquarium emeritus board member and retired CEO of PacificCorp, Al Gleason. The honor “acknowledge[s] the individuals who made the Aquarium possible,” said Zenker.

The 2nd annual Ocean Steward Award will be presented to Elizabeth Starker Cameron, Barte Staker and the Starker family, local foresters and longtime advocates of numerous charitable foundations, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Matriarch Elizabeth “Betty” Starker, who passed away March 17, 2004, served on the Aquarium’s founding board; the Starker family continues her generous legacy of supporting the Aquarium.

A keynote address by Jack Barth, Oregon State University professor and Associate Dean for Research, will reveal how new, sophisticated oceanographic moorings and underwater robots are enabling scientists to track and understand Oregon’s ever-changing coastal ocean. He’ll show how the anomalously warm ocean temperatures evolved over the last few years, and what these changes mean for Oregon’s spectacularly productive coastal marine ecosystem.

Tickets, tables and sponsorship opportunities for the event are available online at, or by calling the Aquarium at 541-867-4931.

The Ocean Steward Celebration is an annual event hosted in Portland by the Aquarium to connect with its friends and donors in Oregon’s largest city. The Aquarium wishes to recognize presenting sponsor, Oregon Coast Bank, host sponsor NW Natural, Schlesinger Companies, Vernier Software & Technology, Wildlife Trading Company, Wilder Newport, AAA of Oregon/Idaho and Grady Britton for supporting this year’s event.

information and photo provided by Oregon Coast Aquarium

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