Mote scientist speaks at the White House Champions of Change Reunion

On Monday, Dec. 5, Dr. Kevan Main, Senior Scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota County, Florida, was invited to participate in a panel titled “Energy and the Environment” at the White House’s House Champions of Change Reunion.
The Champions of Change program allows the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
On Friday, Oct. 7, the White House recognized 12 people from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood.” One of those Champions was Main, who serves as Director of the 200-acre Mote Aquaculture Research Park. Main is Past President and a current member of the World Aquaculture Society, and she has led Mote’s aquaculture research efforts since 2001, guiding the development of Mote’s inland, re-circulating aquaculture systems that raise marine fish while recycling 100 percent of the salt water and using fish wastes to fertilize salt-loving plants.
The Champions of Change Reunion brought together past Champions of Change since the inception of the program five years ago.
Participants in the Energy and the Environment panel included champions spanning the five years since this program was initiated. Discussions focused on accomplishments and recommendations on how to continue the momentum toward (1) reducing environmental impacts that result in climate change, (2) working in our local communities to expand the use of clean energy, and (3) communicating with state and federal officials about the importance of a clean environment for our health and for our planet.
“The panelists and invited speakers were inspirational, providing ideas on how to continue making progress toward the goals identified in the wide ranging topic areas recognized by the White House over the past 5 years, ”Main said.  “I learned something important from every person that I spoke with that will help me to continue advancing the development of sustainable aquaculture.” 
According to a blog post from the White House written by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement:

Today, we are hosting a reunion for our Champions of Change here in Washington, D.C. to discuss the great progress we’ve made, and how we can continue to turn ideas into action. Our Champions will connect to discuss their incredible accomplishments and the important work we all must do in the months and years ahead to move America forward.

Five years ago, we hosted our first Champions of Change event to honor former Peace Corps Volunteers who have gone on to be leaders in their own communities. Since then, we have honored more than 1,300 Champions at 134 events. Our Champions of Change hail from all 50 states and D.C., and individually and collectively tell the story of the potential of every citizen across our country to be a force for good.

We’ve honored young people who are leading the way to combat sexual assault on college campuses, and parents who are shining stars on their PTA. Some of our leading future farmers have come by the White House, as well as agricultural leaders who are fighting climate change – not to mention a group of young women coders who showed that STEM is cool again. We’ve had Champions who are fighting addiction and youth homelessness, signing people up for health insurance, ensuring formerly incarcerated Americans have a second chance at success, and even a 10-year old named Grace Cortese who was helping her school community become more green.

President Obama intentionally began his career as a community organizer because what has driven him throughout his life is an understanding and appreciation for the power of each citizen.  He learned first-hand that the best solutions for the challenges we face originate with you – the American people. That's why he created Champions of Change – to celebrate ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in communities all across our country; to share their accomplishments so that others will follow their lead, for they should inspire and motivate us all.

We are so proud of our champions!
Over the past 15 years, Main and her team at Mote have been conducting research to develop innovative and sustainable technologies for raising red drum, Florida pompano, greater amberjack, common snook and red snapper to support enhancement of wild stocks and to produce juvenile fish for both land-based recirculating and offshore cage farms.
Beyond basic science and technology, Main connects regularly with chefs and seafood marketers in southwest Florida and elsewhere. Several gourmet restaurants have used and praised the quality of seafood and salt-tolerant vegetables from Mote’s marine aquaponics prototype system. Main also shares knowledge to support national and international policy discussion. In fact, she recently helped to promote Florida’s eco-friendly seafood and shared her scientific expertise with ocean-focused leaders and the public as a member of an aquaculture panel during Capitol Hill Ocean Week during June 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Read more on Main’s career and recognition as a Champion of Change here.