An appreciative inquiry of youths’ experiences in the national service-learning program Ocean Bridge
Straughan, Nicole Ann
Human actions may compromise the health and the social, ecological, and economic value of the ocean. In response, Ocean Wise, an ocean conservation organization, launched a national service-learning program, Ocean Bridge, to mentor 40 youths aged 18 to 30 in delivering ocean-related service projects to raise ocean literacy and instill a life-long commitment to ocean health. The purpose of this research was to evaluate Ocean Bridge by exploring the experiences of participants from the 2018 cohort. Qualitative semi-structured interviews informed by an Appreciative Inquiry methodology were applied to understand the youths’ experiences. The results revealed community, personal growth, professional development, and pride as common themes of their experiences. The participants’ responses also offered examples of when Ocean Bridge was at its best in advancing ocean literacy, improving ocean health, and inspiring a culture of service leading to recommendations for the future development and facilitation of Ocean Bridge.