Honoring USC Sea Grant's Efforts in Marine Education

Published July 29, 2022
Media Contact: Leah Shore / lshore@usc.edu / (213)-740-1960 

We are pleased to announce that Linda Chilton, USC Sea Grant’s Education Programs Manager, and Lynn Whitley, who has long been our education colleague, both received outstanding awards at the 2022 National Marine Education Association (NMEA) Annual Conference. Held in Hempstead, New York, this July, Linda and Lynn are two of only five NMEA members to receive accolades at the event. 

Linda Chilton received the 2022 NMEA James Centorino Award, honoring one member’s distinguished performance in marine education, including outstanding leadership, program development, and participation in marine education organizations over the past five years. 

The NMEA lauded Linda for her leadership and for serving as a ‘connector’ over her extensive career, bringing together researchers and educators to promote enriched marine, coastal science, and environmental learning for students and adults. She works in both formal and non-formal education to develop project-based learning, field experience projects, and region-wide community-supported science efforts, positively impacting many people. A short glimpse into Linda’s extensive resume includes assisting in the development of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE)-West (now the COSEE Education Foundation), working with LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Thinking for Students), leading USC Sea Grant’s Island Explorers (curriculum and field components), developing the Harmful Algal Blooms Watch project and Urban Tides Community Science initiative, and supporting student opportunities and internships both virtually and in-person.

The NMEA further shares that “Linda’s contributions are amplified through her long participation in several local, regional, and national education initiatives such as serving as a long-time member of the Southwest Marine and Aquatic Education Association (SWMEA) and the National Marine Education Association (NMEA), and serving as the chair of the Sea Grant Education Network (SGEN). Linda is an ardent supporter of Traditional Knowledge and indigenous people and currently serves as a co-chair of NMEA’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge group. She is also co-chair of the Los Angeles Marine Protected Area Collaborative and works closely with educators for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.” 

Lynn Whitley received the President’s Award, given by the current NMEA President David Christopher, based on outstanding contributions to NMEA and/or marine education. Lynn led education programs for the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and USC Sea Grant, each for 13 years, and has been very active in the Southwest Marine Educators Association and NMEA, including previously serving as NMEA president. David shares that he chose Lynn for this award because of her dedication to growing and supporting the NMEA Membership, especially at a crucial time. He worked with her on several initiatives, such as the COVID discount and the recent NMEA membership drive, and he appreciated her insight and dedication to the membership of this organization.

Further, David expresses that “ it was truly my honor to present the awards to both Linda and Lynn. I have worked on the NMEA board with them for many years, and both are incredible individuals.”

USC Sea Grant congratulates Linda and Lynn on these honorable awards. “Linda is a leader both locally and nationally in fostering marine science education and science literacy, and we are proud to see that she has garnered such high recognition for her work,” says Phyllis Grifman, USC Sea Grant’s Executive Director. “She was instrumental in ensuring that educators had the right resources to continue teaching during the pandemic, and she continues to provide inspirational support to educators in our diverse and dynamic region.”  

“Lynn Whitley is so deserving of the awards and recognition she has garnered during her career. Her national leadership in science literacy has fostered a generation of science educators,” adds Grifman. “We are humbled and gratified that we have the honor of working with two stellar educators to the benefit of our region and our country.”

For over 45 years, NMEA has been a dedicated, influential member-based organization of classroom teachers, informal educators, university professors, scientists, and more from around the world, working together to advance the understanding and protection of our freshwater and marine ecosystems. From scientists working in the deep sea to students studying underwater archeology in the Great Lakes, NMEA members are dedicated to the mission of making known the world of water, both fresh and salt. To learn more about this organization, click here.



About USC Sea Grant

USC Sea Grant’s mission is to contribute to solving the problems of the Urban Ocean, while recognizing the opportunities for coastal commerce, recreation, and improving the quality of life in coastal regions such as Southern California. Our program is based at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA. We are one of 34 programs within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant Program.  

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