event recap: Voice of the Orcas in Rochester, NY

From left to right: Samantha Berg, John Jett, Carol Ray, Jeffrey Ventre, Phil Demers, Diane DiGravio
screen shots from Katie’s talk at the Blackfish Brigade symposium 
Interviewing former SeaWorld trainer Samantha Berg for ‘Voiceless’

interviewing former SeaWorld trainer Carol Ray for ‘Voiceless’

It’s one thing to have knowledge on an issue or a topic. It’s an entirely different thing to be able to take that knowledge and communicate it in a way that will actually make an impact and a change.

A few years ago, if someone had told me that at 19 I would be engaged in an education program that would have an expansive, international reach, and that I would be privileged to role as an educator in this program… I don’t think I would have believed them.

I’ve always loved working with my generation, with middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students– it’s a web, woven intricately, and getting to work within that web and see my place within it, it becomes simple to see it’s ability to impact the way our world works in really huge ways.

In many ways, I’m glad that I didn’t know back when I was 15, where my involvement in humanitarian and environmental causes would lead, because for a kid with mild stage fright, I may have run from the idea. But looking back, I’m profoundly grateful that the experiences I had lead me to where I am today. I feel privileged to be able to be an example for other young people out there, of the fact that one person– and more specifically, one kid can make a big impact. You don’t need to have a degree or a title in order to understand truth and stand.

There are more resources available to us now than ever before. Quoting my friend and also former Sea World trainer, Samantha Berg M.Ac., Dipl.Ac. , “You can learn more about Orcas in five minutes on the internet than you will in an whole day at a place like SeaWorld”.

That’s how I started. Having been involved in ocean projects since I was about twelve, I naturally had questions when the fatal attack at SeaWorld occurred in 2010. I was able to wade into the details of the issue because of the resources available. I was able to become educated on the issue because of the resources available, and I was able to start a movement among my own generation, again– because of the resources available.

Things aren’t like they used to be. We can start using our own tools for change right now, right where we are.

It was an honor for me to be able to assist Mrs. Diane DiGravio, a science teacher in Rochester, NY and Martha Sullivan in organizing an educational symposium on the topic of cetacean captivity and student involvement, and it was also an immense honor to be invited to speak alongside former SeaWorld trainers Carol Ray MA, CCC-SLP, Samantha Berg M.Ac., Dipl.Ac., Jeffrey Ventre MD, DC, and John Jett, Ph.D., also former MarineLand trainer Phil Demers. It was awesome to be able to listen to them speak on this issue, and answer so many great questions from the audience.

It was also amazing to listen to the inspirational speeches given by several of Diane’s amazing students. It was really amazing to hear about their dreams and goals and most of all their passion to make a difference.

It was incredibly special to me, to be able to have a chance after the symposium to chat with so many passionate and inspired young adults. I was deeply touched by how each one of them was impacted and inspired by my talk at the close of the symposium, and I can certainly say that the inspiration was mutual– I was greatly inspired by them as well.

Getting to see first hand the passion embodied in my generation is a very special thing. So thank you to every young adult who was there that night, thank you to everyone who supported the event, who donated, who listened, who asked questions, and who made this event really super awesome. Thank you to Abbie, Ashlyn, Susan and everyone on the BF team for their astounding efforts.

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