Dive Stores – The Heart Beat of the Industry

Why Dive Stores Are So Important
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

There are between 1,400 and 1,800 Dive Stores in the United States and approximately 1,400 Dive Stores outside of the U.S.  That puts our worldwide total of Retail Stores, specializing in scuba diving and related diving activities, at around 3,200 stores.  Not a lot of retail outlets when you look at it from a global industry perspective.

We call these specialty stores, Retail Dive Centers.  Mainly because they are in the Retail Industry (NAICS Code 45), specializing in diving programs, products and services and they are the center of activity for our recreation.  They are our Industry Ambassadors that interact with the General Public on a daily basis.  When scuba diving started to become popular in the 1950’s in the United States, diving enthusiasts bought air compressors and set them up in their garages and basements, so they didn’t have to go to their local fire departments to get their air.  They started teaching scuba classes and soon began selling diving equipment to their students out of their home.  At that time, Army-Navy Surplus Stores and a few Sporting Goods Stores were the only source for equipment, air and repairs.

As the demand for scuba diving grew, the garage operations moved to commercially zoned retail locations and a specialty industry was born within the Retail Sporting Goods Industry (NAICS 451110).  Since then, Dive Stores have worked very closely with the Sporting and Athletic Goods Manufacturers (NAICS 339920), the Sports & Recreation Instruction Industry (NAICS 611620), and the various Travel Industries (NAICS Code 56+).  They have truly become the Recreational Diving Experts in many Industries that specialize in diving and diving related products.  To add to their credit, they have become quite competent in Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Law, and Labor Relations too.

The Dive Industry Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that specializes in “Promoting Economic Development in the Diving Industry.”  Our job is to research, study, understand and report on the diving business community.  We help dive businesses start, grow and succeed.  The Foundation offers free business consulting to dive business entrepreneurs and their employees.

The Dive Industry Foundation has been asked to advise on the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show in Tacoma, Washington on April 20-22, 2018.  We are working with all aspects of the show including Show Management, Vendors, Sponsors, Advertisers, Volunteers, Exhibitors, Speakers, and Attendees.  In the process we are recruiting Industry Professionals from the Local Dive Store, Dive Boat, Dive Club, Dive Resort and Dive Instruction  sectors of the Pacific Northwest U.S. and British Columbia to Volunteer, Advise, Attend and Participate in the dive show.   That’s a big job.

The Foundation is in the process of building its Dive Store, Dive Boat and Dive Club pages on our website.  Mind you, a “generic list” is not important or desired.  We are looking to begin a business relationship with active dive businesses that want to grow and contribute to their local diving community.

The Scuba & H2O Adventure Show is offering two free show passes to the Show on Saturday and Sunday to every Retail Dive Center (Staff only) and Dive Boat Operator in the 6 state Pacific Northwest and British Columbia so they could meet with their vendors who are exhibiting at the show.

Show Manager, Gene Muchanski is creating a Professional Development Seminar Day on Friday, April 20, 2018 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.  Admission if free to Industry Professionals.  Seminar rooms will be sponsored by Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies and Travel Resorts and Operators.  We are looking forward to bringing topics of interest to the local dive industry professionals.  Registration for the Friday Seminars has not been created yet.

Registration forms will be available soon for the 2 FREE Show Passes.  Interested Dive Stores and Dive Boats may register now by sending their Business Card with full contact information via U.S. First Class Mail to Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanical Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  No emails please.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone in the Pacific Northwest Diving Community on April 20-22, 2018 at your 11th annual event.

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Let’s Encourage & Promote Dive Clubs

Let’s Encourage & Promote Dive Clubs
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
June 11, 2017

It’s been a few years since I was the President of the University of Connecticut Scuba Club, at the main campus in Storrs, Connecticut.  We had over 200 members, met every month, sponsored parties and dove throughout the year.  Our two scuba classes each had 25 scuba students and 14 Teaching Assistants in them every semester.  That’s right.  We were training 100 open water students a year, in addition to advanced scuba classes and an Instructor Training Course (ITC).  The highlight of of 1980 was our first Underwater Symposium and Film Review, UCONN UNDERWATER.  We drew a record crowd of exhibitors, speakers and attendees.  John Stoneman from Canada was our Guest Speaker and he marveled the audience.  In true College spirit, we partied at the Faculty-Alumni Center with our Speakers and Guests during the Lunch Intermission and had one heck of a party at Rapps Deli (local pub) after the Show that evening.

Scuba Diving at UCONN completed my Business Education and opened up a whole new career for me.  Starting out as NAUI’s first Marketing Director right out of college, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work in many sectors of the diving industry; Training, Manufacturing, Retail, Travel, Media, Non-Profit and of course, Business Consulting.  Along the way, I’ve learned that for a diving company to be successful, you have to make your program, product or service FUN.  You have to have people who promote it enthusiastically and sell it with passion.  And above all, you have to have your Team of Professionals in the background, strategically running your business.  So I guess the secret to dive business success is that you have to have a plan and you can’t do it alone!

The Dive Industry Foundation has been asked to advise on the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show in Tacoma, Washington on April 20-22, 2018.  To make the show the world-class event it is designed to be, we are looking into every aspect of what makes a dive and travel expo successful.  We are helping Show Management recruit Attendees, Speakers, Exhibitors, Sponsors, Advertisers, Media Partners, Vendors, and Volunteers.

The purpose of the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show is to bring the best of our recreation to the members of the diving community in the Pacific Northwest.  It is also to showcase the best of the best in the Pacific Northwest Diving Community, to bring more business to the Pacific Northwest.

One very important sector of the Northwest Diving Community is their Dive Clubs.  Although there are many “lists” of Dive Clubs in the Industry and on-line, our organization is compiling our own working database of people who are actively involved in starting, running and promoting dive clubs.  We are looking to start a professional relationship with Dive Clubs to help them grow and be successful.  We can use your help to work with us to design and promote the annual diving event of the year in your community.  We are not only looking for attendees, we are looking for show volunteers and local advisers helping us to choose the best seminars, films and speakers for your community.

I believe that the importance of Dive Clubs has been neglected for many years and its time for Dive Clubs to bring back and maintain the joys of diving to the general public.  We are asking local divers to look at our Dive Clubs Page at www.diveindustry.org/dive-clubs/  and let us know if the clubs we have are still active and what clubs we have not listed.  We need complete contact information on the club and their logo if they have one.  Send the club contact information to gene@diveindustry.org   If you have a business card, patch, or printed material on your club, please send it to Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.

We look forward to working with all Dive Clubs across the Globe.

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Dive Industry Creates a Speakers Bureau

Developing an Industry Speakers Bureau
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
June 7, 2017

In our series on Developing the Ideal Dive Show, we are breaking down the components that make a show successful for the attendees, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, sponsors, staff and show management.  The most important component is, of course, the attendees.  We design a dive show based on who attends the show and what they expect to see and do and who they expect to meet.

The second component of a dive show are the seminars, workshops, film shows, meetings and activities that are organized into an integrated program for the attendees.  We call this second component “Presentations.”  Presentations are the meat & potatoes of any dive show, whether it is designed as a consumer show, trade show or professional development conference.  Having a high level of presentations means there will be more interest in attending the event.

Speakers and Presenters are the Ambassadors of our industry.  I can’t stress enough how important our speakers are when it comes to promoting our recreation through positive contact with the general public.  They are the story tellers of our industry.  They are the hands-on, been there, done that people of the recreational diving industry.  No one knows the impact one short seminar at a long forgotten dive show could have on the future of one individual, sitting in awe of the information being presented by an enthusiastic speaker.  Maybe it could be that life-changing moment that turns a dream into a life-long passion or career.  That’s why we want to introduce our Speakers to the world.

The purpose of this article is to develop an Industry Speakers Bureau that keeps track of speakers and presenters in our industry and their topics of expertise.  As we compile a group of speakers and presenters, we learn a lot about their topic of choice and their scope.  Looking at the show guides of dive shows in the past, I can see that speakers tend to be International, National or Regional in Scope.  Some focus on education and some more on entertainment.  Some presentations are focused on topics that appeal to recreational divers and some have more of a professional development appeal.

For the recreational diver, topics of current interest seem to be Underwater Photography and Video, Wreck Diving, Freediving, Technical Diving, Rebreather Diving, Spearfishing, and of course, Adventure Travel Diving.  From an educational side, Diving Medicine is very important, and so is the mechanics and meaning of diving equipment.  From a professional development side of diving and diving instruction, the topics of interest are plentiful.  Career development, improved teaching techniques, equipment maintenance and repair, employment opportunities, certification updates and renewals and the business of diving as a part-time or full-time profession.

Dive shows need to have an element of interest for recreational divers and industry professionals alike.  Both types attend the events as attendees, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers or staff.  Show producers establish the venue to accommodate local divers and visiting industry professionals.  To maximize the benefits of so much industry talent converging on one location for a weekend or more, it makes sense to include as much activity as the facilities can handle.

The Scuba & H2O Adventure Show is scheduled for April 20-22, 2018 in Tacoma, Washington.  Exhibiters and Speakers will be arriving from all over the globe on Thursday and Friday.  While the exhibiters are setting up on Friday, the show will host its professional development side of the show.  Show management is encouraging speakers and companies to conduct workshops, seminars and meetings targeted toward dive industry professionals.  Workshops that pull an audience away from an event for 4-8 hours, like equipment repair training, Instructor certification updates and technical training sessions are not a problem on Friday.  The Saturday and Sunday portion of the show is focused on local attendees and visiting divers as much as possible.  Everyone can participate and enjoy the exhibits, the seminars and film shows.  With proper booth staffing, exhibitors can even schedule time with their Instructors, Clients and Dealers anytime during the entire weekend; Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The main purpose of organizing workshops, seminars, and meetings ten months in advance of a show is that it gives us time to find the most interesting topics that have the most appeal with audiences.  It allocates sufficient time to promote the show activities and invite attendees who would be interested in the program. Our goal is to bring a world-class event to Tacoma in April and inform and invite as many people as we can.

The Dive Industry Foundation is asking all Speakers to send us their contact information and topics of interest. Please include a recent photograph and a short Speaker’s Abstract & Bio.  You can email your information to gene@diveindustry.org or mail your information and a business card to Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  For more information, contact Gene Muchanski at 321-914-3778.

The best example of speaker information I have seen so far is Beneath the Sea’s 2017 Speakers’ Abstracts & Bios.  Beneath the Sea published 14 pages of speakers and their bios in their 2017 show guide.  Fantastic job; clear pictures and short bios.  They even included a short abstract of each seminar the speakers were presenting.  This format should be the model for all seminars and show guides to come and we certainly will use it as a guide when we create the Dive Industry Speakers Bureau.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Tacoma on April 20-22, 2018.

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Dive Industry Foundation Consulting on Tacoma Dive Show

Dive Industry Foundation Consulting on
Scuba & H2O Adventure Show
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation

With the season underway, industry planers are starting to think about next year.  Of course, we still have to get through the DEMA Show in November but that is really part of this year’s planning, which should be well underway for many exhibitors.

There are a number of good shows and events on the docket for 2018.  To get the best prices and the best results from our pre-show, at-show and post-show efforts, we are planning now and ready to execute our plans in a timely manner.  The Dive Industry Association will be exhibiting at four shows and attending and marketing a dozen more.  Our non-profit Dive Industry Foundation is not only exhibiting at a number of shows but are working with a number of show producers and exhibitors to help make their shows more successful.  Part of that success is based on solid planning and timely execution.

The Dive Industry Foundation has been asked to advise on the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show in Tacoma, Washington on April 20-22, 2018.  Although the show is ten months away, a lot of planning needs to take place to make it the world-class event it is promising to be.  We are working with all components of the show; Attendees, Presenters, Sponsors, Advertisers, Exhibitors, Volunteers, Staff and Show Management.

Putting a show together is a lot of work but it is not Rocket Science.  What has helped me tremendously is looking back on the company that built our swimming pool four years ago.  On the first day of our meeting, the builder sketched out a rough draft of the type of pool we wanted. He added and deleted options as we discussed them and added things he knew would be needed.  At the end of our first meeting he had a clear idea of what we wanted.  After reviewing our needs and budget, Paradise Pools was ready to make a solid estimate on the cost of the pool, the materials that were needed and time it would take to complete the pool.  After our second meeting, the builder knew what he needed to know.  In his mind’s eye, he could see the process from start to finish. He already knew what the pool would look like when it was finished.  How did he know that?  Because he had done this many times before.  It wasn’t his first rodeo!

I learned a lot about building a business from that experience.  For 52 days I photographed and video taped the pool building project and shared the progress with my facebook friends.  On any given day 30-50 people tuned in and experienced the daily success of the project and yet, none of us knew exactly how or when everything would come together.  But the builder knew ever since the second meeting.

I am hoping the Scuba & H2O Adventurer Show in Tacoma will turn out to be the world-class event we are planning it to be.  However, it is going to take more than good planning and execution.  It’s going to need the excitement and participation of the diving community in the Northwest United States and Southwest Canada.  I am confident that will happen.

As we work on all aspects of this event, i.e. Attendees, Presenters, Sponsors, Advertisers, Exhibitors, Volunteers, Staff and Show Management, we will share the progress with the diving community.  Hopefully, like my pool project, we’ll all see the show come together right before our eyes.

If you would like to be a part of this event, contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.org

 

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Dive Industry Foundation Exhibits at DEMA 2016

DIFlogo-tag-200Dive Industry Foundation
Non-profit 501(c)(3)
DEMA Show 2016 – Booth 4225
November 16-19, 2016

Please stop by our Booth 4225 at the Annual DEMA Show, In Las Vegas, NV.  Here is what you will see…

  • Introducing CARIBBEAN DIVE NEWS 
  • Information on the DIVE LOCAL Campaign
  • DIVE LOCAL Donation & Sponsorship Opportunities
  • Introducing Dive Industry Business Academy
  • Dive Industry Foundation – FREE Business Consultancy Services
  • Business Course – Hypergrow Your Business
  • FREE Subscription – DIA Weekly Dive News
  • FREE Subscription – Monthly Newsletter – The Dive Industry Professional
  • Retail Dive Center Survey & Results
  • Manufacturing Sales Rep Survey & Results
  • New Book – The TriStart Matrix: Signed Copy Available for $20 Donation
  • Free Marketing Tips on using Social Media, Press Releases & Trade Shows
  • Free Press Release Information on Constant Contact.  discounts available.
  • Drawing for Books, Courses, Handcrafted Pen
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Dive Industry Foundation at Our World-Underwater

DIFlogo-tag-200Dive Industry Foundation
Non-profit 501(c)(3)
Our World-Underwater Booth 213
February 26-28, 2016

Please stop by our Booth 213 at the 46th Annual Our World-Underwater Show, In Rosemont, IL.  Here is what you will see…

  • FREE Subscription – DIA Weekly Dive News
  • FREE Subscription – Monthly Newsletter – The Dive Industry Professional
  • Information on the DIVE LOCAL Campaign
  • DIVE LOCAL Donation & Sponsorship Opportunities
  • Retail Dive Center Survey & Results
  • Manufacturing Sales Rep Survey & Results
  • Business Course – Hypergrow Your Business
  • New Book – The TriStart Matrix: Signed Copy Available for $20 Donation
  • New Book – Hire Your First Employee by Rhonda Abrams
  • Book – Blackbeard by Margaret Hoffman: Available for $24 Donation
  • Dive Industry Foundation – Business Consultancy Services
  • Free Marketing Tips on using Social Media, Press Releases & Trade Shows
  • Free Press Release Information on Constant Contact.  discounts available.
  • Information on Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Programs
  • Drawing for Books, Courses, Handcrafted Pen
  • Fundraiser – Mask Bag – $10 Donation
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Daniel Copeland Selected – 2015 European Rolex Scholar

It is a great pleasure to announce that Mr. Daniel Copeland, age 23, from North Wales has been selected to be the 2015 European Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.

DANIEL COPELAND | BIOGRAPHY:

Danny-Copeland-200Daniel Copeland, 23, has always enjoyed learning about, understanding and experiencing different aspects of the natural world. Despite this underlying passion, and a childhood living along the coast of North Wales, his plan throughout most of high school was to follow a path in electronic media and graphic design. It wasn’t until he took his first breathes underwater during an introductory ocean dive in a harbor in Malta, that Daniel’s love for the underwater world rapidly bubbled to the surface. During that dive, he was captivated by an unlikely encounter with a colorful and curious cuttlefish an experience that changed the direction of his life forever.

Over the next few years, Daniel gained his PADI Open Water diving certification in Turkey, enrolled on an Open University, self-taught course in marine science, and embarked on a month-long expedition to Ecuador. Here he was fortunate enough to experience the rich marine biodiversity of the Galapagos archipelago, snorkeling with sea lions, sharks and penguins during a week tour of these famed islands. He was hooked! A career revolving around the underwater world was now the only path for him.

Daniel took a year out from education to further his diving skills and continued travelling to foreign shores. He spent three months immersed in the scuba culture of Thailand’s islands, where he was trained as a PADI Divemaster and to service Aqualung regulators. Daniel then headed to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, to experience an unforgettable introduction to cenote diving, and to unexpectedly attend the world’s second largest underwater wedding!

Daniel completed his degree in Zoology at the University of Sheffield in 2014. Although he was distant from the sea, Daniel managed to keep the underwater world a constant during his studies. He became a member of the university’s subaqua club, serving on the club’s committee and participating in the organization and management of various dive trips around the UK. Through the club he was trained as a drysuit and Nitrox diver, and later began teaching fellow students as a BSAC Assistant Diving Instructor.

In 2012 Daniel interned at the Marine Discovery Centre at Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives, where he assisted the resident biologists with their turtle rehabilitation, coral reef propagation, and fish breeding programes. It was here that Daniel also helped the Manta Trust collect photo ID data of manta rays within Baa Atoll and the world famous Hanifaru MPA. He went on to assist other scientists studying marine megafauna, including tagging whale sharks in Tanzania and supporting another manta ray researcher in Indonesia. His final year research project focused on gender differences in the skin morphology of lesser-spotted catsharks, whilst his dissertation assessed the effectiveness of ecotourism in the conservation of elasmobranchs.

Throughout his experiences, Daniel has enlisted different ways of sharing his passion for the underwater world. He has organized stands and given public presentations on manta conservation at several UK dive shows, and recently helped to manage a Scottish festival dedicated to basking sharks. Putting his existing media skills to good use, he has collaborated with marine NGOs to spearhead multiple online campaigns to garner public support of protective legislation for sharks and rays, reaching an audience of more than four million people. After developing a keen interest for underwater photography and videography, he placed 2nd in an amateur wildlife film competition ran by a popular UK natural history TV channel, with a one-minute film on blue sharks.

Over the years, Daniel’s desires have developed from pursuing a career in the underwater world, to developing one where he also plays a part in conserving it. Despite the armada of anthropogenic impacts that threaten our oceans, Daniel believes that the biggest challenge is inciting the world to care about these threats in the first place. His goal is to gain a better understanding of how to reconnect people with the ocean using a variety of different strategies – after all, a world that continues to be disconnected from its marine environment will have no interest in fighting to protect it. Daniel is honored to be appointed the OWUSS European Rolex Scholar for 2015, and believes it will provide an invaluable opportunity for him to learn how he can play a role in rekindling a love for our blue planet.

 

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Ben Buchan Appointed 2015 Australasian Rolex Scholar

It is a great pleasure to announce that Mr. Ben Buchan, from New South Wales, Australia has been selected to be the 2015 Australasian Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.

BEN BUCHAN | BIOGRAPHY:

Ben-Buchan-200I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales, and have lived within 10 minutes of a beach  since I was 11 years old. For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep fascination with the  marine environment, and have always had the desire to learn as much as possible.

I gained my open water diving certification at the age of 15 as part of my marine studies class at  high school, which is when I became addicted to diving. Upon the completion of my Higher School  Certificate in 2010, I started my Bachelor of Marine Science in 2011 at Macquarie University,  North Ryde. Through my studies, I became more passionate about the marine environment and I  was offered the opportunity to volunteer in Cambodia in the initiation of a coral reef  regeneration project with Reach Out Volunteers.

For an entire month in January of 2012, I stayed on an island called Koh Rong in Cambodia, in a  tiny village that had not had any western influence. The reef around this village was so degraded  from the use of non-sustainable fishing practices, including the use of dynamite. Over this month,  the team I was  part of removed over 100 nets from the surrounding reef, and focused on  teaching the village proper and sustainable fishing practices. It was through this time I realized  the significance that education and public awareness has on the conservation of continued  protection of the marine environment. I left Cambodia with the desire to share my knowledge  and experiences of the ocean with as many people as possible.

Back in Australia, I continued my commitment to Reach Out Volunteers, and begun recruiting  other students to volunteer in a range of environmental and community development projects  around the world. In 2013, I became a scuba instructor, and have since been able to share my  passion and knowledge of the marine environment with my students that have been from all  around the world.

As part of my university degree, I secured a volunteer position at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, and  was involved in many aspects of animal husbandry from feeding, cleaning, and monitoring life  support systems from rescue animals. I had the opportunity to work with animals from small fish  and invertebrates, to large sharks, turtles and stingrays. Here, I had the unique opportunity to  share the importance of marine conservation with a diverse audience.

Before my final semester or university in January of 2014, I returned to Koh Rong in Cambodia to  again assist in the continuation of the coral reef regeneration project. I was inspired by the new  attitude of the village towards the marine environment, and overwhelmed by the increased  health of the surrounding reef.  Over the course of January of 2014, I certified 35 volunteers for  their open water course, and as a team, we deployed artificial reef pods to aid in the growth of  this reef system. Now, there are over 100 artificial pods surrounding this growing reef, and the  project continues today, with volunteers constantly traveling to aid in the program.

In June of 2014, I graduated with a Bachelor of Marine Science, and begun working as a Shark  Dive Coordinator at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, having the unique opportunity to not only  introduce people to the diving experience, but get them up close and personal with large Grey Nurse sharks, education them about the importance of shark conservation.

I have since begun my Master of Marine Science and Management at Macquarie University, and am currently focused on the social behavior of sharks. I am currently living on Heron Island as a dive instructor, again having the opportunity to share my passion for diving, and the marine  environment, with a particular focus on the importance of the Great Barrier Reef system.   I look forward to the opportunity to add to my list of experiences, and participate in a number of  important marine projects throughout the scholarship year.

 

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Michele Felberg Appointed 2015 North American Rolex Scholar

owuss_logo-2owuss-100March 4, 2015

Dear OWUSS Friends,

It is my very great pleasure to announce that Ms. Michele Felberg, age 23, from Houston, Texas was selected on March 2nd to be the 2015 North American Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.  Michele earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Economics, from the University of Southern California. She is a NAUI Divemaster  and AAUS Scientific Diver. She is currently living in Palau, where she is a Dive Guide and Underwater Naturalist.  Her primary underwater interests are research, conservation, and finding innovative ways to encourage people to cherish and protect the ocean. Please see the attached bio and photo to learn more about Michele.

The Scholarship Selection Committee feels that Michele is highly qualified to excel in her role representing the Scholarship Society and has the determination and passion to make a lasting contribution to the underwater world in the future.

I am sure you will all wish to join me in welcoming Michele to the Scholarship family and wish her success in her upcoming year of challenge, adventure, and learning. She can be reached at felberg@usc.edu.

Michele-Felberg-200Michele Felberg Bio:  Michele Felberg, from Houston, Texas, always had an affinity for water but didn’t quite grasp her love for the underwater world until her years earning a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a minor in Economics at the University of Southern California.  It was during her sophomore year that she realized the magnitude of her passion and curiosity through her participation in two new Environmental Studies courses.  First, in the Intro to Scientific Diving course she earned her NAUI Open Water certification as well as the AAUS scientific diver certification.  In the second course, Integrated Ecosystem Management in Micronesia, she intensively studied the marine ecology, biodiversity, and conservation management of Micronesia and then traveled to Guam and Palau for a field research trip to evaluate coral reef health.  Data collected in this research were used, in part, as justification for listing Palau’s Southern Lagoon as a World Heritage Site.

This experience opened Michele’s eyes to the beauty and complexity of the marine world and she decided to pursue a concentration within the Environmental Studies department called “Oceans, Life, and People” which focused her studies on the underwater world. She spent half of her junior year in New Zealand, where she studied marine science, conducted research on freshwater macroinvertebrate populations and stream health, and sparked her love of adventure traveling.  As a senior she worked as a research assistant on a seagrass-monitoring project in Big Fisherman’s Cove on Catalina Island, examining monthly fluctuations in seafloor coverage of a foundation species of seagrass, Zostera marina. Michele presented the results of this research at the annual Southern California Academy of Sciences symposium.  Supplementing her research diving, she earned her Rescue Diver and Training Assistant certifications during the fall of her senior year.  The few weekends of her senior year Michele didn’t spend diving on Catalina Island, she was heavily involved in an organization called SC Outfitters, leading students on hiking and camping trips around the Southwest US, sharing her passion for the great outdoors and exploration.

During her last semester at USC, Michele was asked to serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the two environmental studies courses that initiated her interest in the underwater world. This position is rarely offered to an undergraduate. While assisting in the teaching of academic content and class logistics, Michele helped with the dive training of the new students and earned her Divemaster certification. Immediately upon graduation, she returned to Micronesia as a TA for the USC summer research field course in Palau. At the end of the class she was offered a position as a Dive Guide/ Underwater Naturalist at one of the top dive centers in Palau. Her work in Palau has fed her love for experiencing new cultures, diving, and sharing the wonders of the underwater world with the guests she guides. She has opportunities to assist visiting researchers  with their projects and was instrumental in developing a lecture series to inform guests, from a scientific perspective, about the local fauna, flora, and reef ecology. In addition, living in Palau has given her a greater appreciation for the power of local communities tied to the oceans and a better understanding of the importance of incorporating local knowledge with scientific research.  On the few days a month she doesn’t dive, Michele enjoys reading a good book, going on runs, exploring the land attractions of Palau, and wishing she was diving.

One of Michele’s long-range goals is to provide a legacy of relentless pursuit of the conservation and protection of the oceans by fostering within others a mindset that every individual can make a positive impact on marine conservation.

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