Into The Industry: Sharks4Kids
Shark week might be over, but we shouldn't forget about these captivating predators that are vital to the health of our oceans... In this short and sweet interview, shark enthusiast Jillian Morris (@sharkeducation), fills us in on her global mission to educate the younger generation, changing fear to fascination, and creating a community of shark advocates.
Hey Jillian! Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Jillian Morris and I am a marine biologist, shark conservationist and founder of Sharks4Kids. I live in The Bahamas with my husband and adopted island pit bull.
You’ve built your life around the ocean. What drew you to it in the first place?
I had parents who took me to the ocean from an early age, which fostered an immediate love for it. I grew up in Maine and spent hours exploring tidepools. I also got to snorkel with my first shark (a nurse shark!) at the age of 9 whilst visiting Florida.
How did Sharks4Kids come about?
It came from a belief that kids can make a difference for sharks and the oceans. We wanted kids and educators to have access to free materials to help them dive into the world of these amazing animals. No matter where we live, the oceans are vital and sharks are an important part of healthy oceans. Along with curriculum, we wanted to also offer presentations and outreach opportunities. The program has grown to include classroom visits in person and virtual meetings around the world, as well as science and outreach opportunities for students.
What is Sharks4Kids mission?
We are creating the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. We are changing fear to fascination and empowering students. We have connected with over 75,000 students in 44 countries and 47 US states.
And what do you hope to achieve through this program?
I hope to inspire as many students as possible to be a voice for sharks and our oceans. I hope to inspire them to make better choices and to be global citizens.
Outreach director Michelle Andersen teaching kids about shark tagging (Photo: Jillian Morris) and Sharks4Kids & Bimini Scuba Center taking kids to see sharks and rays (Photo: Duncan Brake)
Thats incredible! So what does a typical day look like for you?
It depends, which is always exciting. I might be out filming or photographing sharks, teaching students in a classroom or tagging sharks as part of several research projects. No matter what or where, it usually revolves around sharks.
So why are sharks so important to you?
I have been fascinated with them my whole life. There is so much fear surrounding these animals, when really we should fear an ocean without them. I want the world to see how remarkable and important these animals are. They deserve our respect and I am working to do everything I can to help save these amazing creatures.
What made you want to go into child education?
It was never something I had planned, but I combined my science background with my passion for conservation and photography and this evolved into educating students around the world.
What advice would you give to people who want to go into this career?
I would say find something you are passionate about and share it with others. You don’t have to be in a formal education position (ie teacher or lecturer) to make an impact.