Ocean Advocacy Workshop | Geography, Environment, and Sustainability

Environment & Sustainability Program

Ocean Advocacy Workshop

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The 2024 Ocean Advocacy Workshop (OAW) builds on the successes of prior OAWs, also supported by the Green Fund and highly rated by participants. This event will include short, TED-like talks and breakout sessions led by speakers that reflect the diversity and mindsets of North Carolina’s population. Motivated college students and community members will learn about the current state of marine fisheries and wetland loss in NC. Discussions of ecogrief allow for awareness of the emotional aspects of environmental awareness and productive ways to cope. Expert environmental advocates will equip students to become informed, engaged civic leaders through skills-building workshops.

The 2024 Ocean Advocacy Workshop will be held Friday, March 22nd through Saturday, March 23rd, 2024 at Haw River State Park in Browns Summit, NC. Registration is required and includes all meals, snacks, and lodging for the duration of the event. Please check back for updates!


For more information or questions, please email evs@uncg.edu.





Crystal Cavalier Keck and Jason Crazy Bear Keck founders of 7 Directions of Service (7DS) on Crystal’s ancestral Occaneechi-Saponi lands, the rural Piedmont region of North Carolina.

7 Directions of Service focuses on: Protecting traditional pre-US treaty areas (NC/VA/SC); Educating Indigenous community members, tribes, surrounding communities, and youth on current environmental issues; Developing the next generation of leaders in the environmental movement; Promoting activism within our tribes and Indigenous communities; and empowering Indigenous community members to effect change



Bonnie Monteleone is the founder and CEO of the Plastic Ocean Project and serves on the Board of Directors for the NC Wildlife Federation. In her research, she travelled the globe collecting plastic marine samples in four of the five main ocean gyres.


Tim Gestwicki started out as a boots-on-the-ground newbie at the NC Wildlife Federation in the early 1990s. Over the decades, he has worked his way up to become the CEO of the NC Wildlife Federation. Tim works to bring together government, industry, and citizens to protect NC’s natural resources and sustainably manage them for future generations.



Breakout Session Leaders


Drew Ball, an experienced campaigner, lobbyist, and policy analyst, serves as the Director of Compass Campaign Strategies, a consulting firm dedicated to promoting responsible government policy and supporting progressive candidates. He is on the board of the North Carolina Sierra Club and is the former State Director of Environment North Carolina. 


Karley Kranich has over a decade of experience helping nonprofits find their voice and tell their story. She currently serves as a Director at Spitfire Strategies helping companies communicate about their environmental goals. She previously worked at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) advising Fortune 500 companies on their social impact and inclusion goals. While at EDF, she supported the communications strategy for EDF Climate Corps, a fellowship program that trains and matches graduate students with host companies to complete projects on renewable energy, ESG reporting and exploring innovative sustainability solutions. Karley lives in Washington, DC and has a masters in management from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in journalism from James Madison University. 


Attila Nemecz works as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for Beaufort Community College and serves as the advisor for both the college’s Environmental Alliance and LGBT+ Club. He is the VP of ReLeaf Washington (a tree-planting organization), the former president of Inner Banks Wildlife, and helped start Action for Community in Raleigh.



Ann Berry Somers has been active in the conservation of NC wildlife all her adult life and taught biology at UNCG for over 30 years. A multiple award-winning teacher and conservationist, Ann serves on the Board of Directors of the NC Wildlife Federation and is the founder of the Box Turtle Connection project. 


Dawn Forrest Dolson is one of the original organizers of the Oceans Advocacy Workshop. She is on the board of the Plastic Oceans Project and a volunteer for Sound Rivers monitoring and maintains the trash trout located in Washington, NC. 


Bonnie Monteleone is the founder and CEO of the Plastic Ocean Project and serves on the Board of Directors for the NC Wildlife Federation. In her research, she traveled the globe collecting plastic marine samples in four of the five main ocean gyres.



Jennifer Skvarla-Alligood is a grassroots activist and community leader who serves on several boards of directors, including the Plastic Ocean Project, Inner Banks Wildlife Chapter of North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Secotan First Nation People and New Era Agriculture. 


Page Turner is an administrator in the Department of Biology. She attended the first OAW as a student in 2022 and joined the staff in 2023.


Alexis Doren is a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Geography, Environment and Sustainability.


Jamison Cole is an environmental educator and advocate. They graduated from UNCG in 2022, where they received the Ann Berry Somers Award for Conservation. They have been involved with the Workshop since it’s beginning in 2022.


Ashley Rose

Ashley Rose is the Assistant Director of the Environment & Sustainability Program at UNC-Greensboro.