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Homer Tribune article: Teen inspired by ocean stewardship

April 10, 2014

Teen inspired by ocean stewardship

Homer Tribune
By Christina Whiting

Photo provided Axel helps rescue a seal as part of Alaska Sealife Center’s stranding network.

Raised in Homer and surrounded by Kachemak Bay, 16-year-old Axel Gillam’s passion for the ocean has been nurtured since a very young age.
At just five years old, Gillam met naturalists Carmen and Conrad Field during a Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies dock tour.
“Carmen and Conrad’s excitement about marine life rubbed off on me,” he said.
His enthusiasm was further inspired when he was in fifth and sixth grade at McNeil Canyon Elementary School, and teacher Sheryl Sotelo took his class on field trips and invited scientists to the school.
“One time, Jane Middleton taught us about plankton and winter ecology,” Gillam said. “Another time, a scientist from the Kenai Watershed Forum took us out to the creeks near the school where we learned about the impact and health of the streams based on what was living there.”
When the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve opened their Discovery Labs to the public at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, Gillam found his niche. During the labs, scientists and researches shared their studies and findings and Gillam listened, asked questions and soaked it all in. Eventually, staff invited Gillam to shadow some of the scientists, and before long, he was teaching his own Discovery Labs.

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