February 23, 2017
Dear OWUSS Friends,
It is my very great pleasure to announce that Mr. Yann Herrera Fuchs, of Mexico City, Mexico has been selected to be the 2018 North American Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. The Selection Panel conducted interviews on February 18th in Chicago. For the first time, we had three finalists who represented all three countries in North America: Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The decision of the Scholarship Selection Panel was unanimous and they are confident that Yann is highly qualified to excel in his role representing the Scholarship Society and that he has the passion, vision, and capability to make a lasting contribution to the underwater world in the future.
I am sure you will all wish to join me in welcoming Yann to the Scholarship family and wish him success in his upcoming year of challenge, adventure, and learning. He can be reached at email@example.com. Yann’s bio and photo will be sent separately.
With kindest regards, Robin MacFadden Parish
Yann Herrera Fuchs, 24, was born in Cuernavaca, the city of “eternal spring”, only a couple of hours driving from the Mexican coast. His childhood years were spent between swimming pools and the tropical shores of the Mexican Pacific, attempting to swim like a dolphin or trying to hold his breath underwater for long periods of time. At the age of eight, his family moved to Seattle, but not even the cold weather and all the rain stopped Yann from enjoying the ocean. He soon found a hobby in jumping around tide pools searching for jellyfish, sea urchins and starfish. Yann eventually moved back to Mexico City, but the longing for closer contact with the ocean brought him to Vancouver, Canada, a few years later to seek a degree in Environmental Science from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
AT UBC Yann focused on economic, social, and environmental sustainability. He spent time in Costa Rica working with a volunteer organization on a turtle conservation project, patrolling beaches at night and relocating turtle eggs safely to keep them away from poachers. This field experience triggered his passion for marine conservation. He completed his open water diver’s course in Mexico, diving for the first time in the harbor of Veracruz. Yann was stunned by the abundance of coral and marine life that was present despite being situated near a major industrial port. Acknowledging the resilience that aquatic life can have with good conservation measures made him feel empowered to make a difference in Mexico’s efforts to preserve nature. This fueled his need to continue diving and discovering the country’s marine treasures. Despite the logistical and financial barriers of diving, Yann attempted to explore different underwater settings. In Quintana Roo, he submerged himself in cenotes, cavern-like orifices that connect the subterranean waterways of the Mayan coasts. He also got certified for dry suit diving in Canada. During his final years at UBC, Yann served as a research assistant working on an indigenous fisheries project and was awarded a grant to take a sustainability field course in Iceland.
After graduating, Yann made the leap back to Mexico and began working for World Wildlife Fund, where he got closer to the fishing sector, government and coastal communities of Baja California. His lead project focused on developing alternative fishing gear in the Upper Gulf of California as a response to protecting the endemic vaquita porpoise, considered the world’s most endangered marine mammal. He also participated as a diver in shark monitoring programs, reef clean-ups and ecosystem health assessments. Yann insists that community efforts and underwater education are key for preventing further disconnection between people and our natural water resources. The 2018 OWUSS Rolex Scholarship is a great opportunity to explore this idea and transmit a sense of stewardship back to the people that have lost this connection.