Faces of New Smyrna Beach - Tess @ Marine Discovery Center

I recently went on a Sunset Dolphin Cruise with the Marine Discovery Center with some friends visiting from Germany. It was a beautiful evening out on the water made even better and so much more interesting by our guide, Tess. She touched on several of the things that are featured in the just released Explore the Sights of New Smyrna Beach, and I started talking to her about her work, her life and thoughts about education …

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Where did you grow up? 

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas!

What are some things on your bucket list?

I have lots of different places that I want to visit, I have different craftsmanship projects I would love to attempt. And wherever I end up, I want to ensure that I can make a positive impact for that place and the people that call it home.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about learning-- I believe in the power of being a life-long learner. I’m also passionate about the benefits of spending time outside. I love playing and watching sports. I enjoy small photography projects, traveling, and thrive with the aid of a good cup of coffee (I used to be a barista at a craft coffee shop). I have been told that I am an old soul and find myself delving into all kinds of stories and artifacts from the past. I’ve recently taken interest in craftsman projects around my apartment and am working on growing my own mini-garden.

If you could improve our educational system, what are some thing you would do?

Well, it’s challenging to answer this in just a few sentences, because there are so many independent issues, some of which I may not even be aware of, that add up to this comparison between our education systems and those throughout the rest of our country and the world. My mom is a professor and administrator in higher education, so many of my opinions come from observation of her career, mixed with the experiences that I faced in my own schooling. Firstly, I believe there needs to be equity in access to education-- there are a number of social problems that could be mended by this. I have also considered a change in the structure of education, as I always felt guilty for not succeeding in a system that depended on standardized tests and standardized topics. As I continue my involvement in all things outdoorsy, I continue to be inspired be nature and the discovery of life outside the office doors. I think sports and outdoor education could serve as a major benefit in education of all levels. There are so many life lessons that can be absorbed just by spending time outside. In other words, I believe in the practice of “real-life” application, rather than textbook definitions and testing. Lastly, I will say that the exposure to other cultures could be beneficial to every person, everywhere.

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What do you love most about New Smyrna Beach?

I love the small community partnerships. As somewhat of a non-local, I appreciate that there is a combined effort to create a positive support system for everyone’s different passions. Being that we are coastal, I also love how active everyone is and how we love to be outdoors!

What is your role at the Marine Discovery Center & how did you get here?

My role at Marine Discovery Center is Educator & Conservation Science Specialist. I graduated in 2017 from Rollins College with a degree in Environmental Studies and found a camp counselor opportunity at MDC in May of 2018. After 11 inspiring weeks of summer camp, I joined the boat & kayak tours. Then, in October, I joined the conservation science team in their Shuck & Share program. Additionally, I have started working with the micro plastics research project, which observes effects of micro plastics in the Indian River Lagoon.


Watch the video for information about this fantastic program.

What’s your vision for New Smyrna Beach/Marine Discovery Center/your work?

As a non-profit, MDC has a mission to educate the community on our local ecosystems, but also to create connections between the people and places around us. I was grounded in this mission from my first day here, and it’s what inspires me to move forward in my work. My hope for NSB and MDC is to strengthen the community ties that we have established, and to share in the stewardship of the land and waters around us.

What changes would you like to make?

There is a need for change in many different areas of the world, but the one that I have dedicated myself to is that of the environment. While I hope that I can inspire others to care for nature, I also challenge myself to learn about other areas of change. Right now, I’m on a personal crusade to significantly decrease the amount of waste and single-use plastics that end up in landfills and in our oceans. This is just one of the many reasons I love being a part of the Shuck & Share oyster recycling program, because it is so multi-dimensional in the way that it creates a positive change.

What can the people of New Smyrna Beach do to support you?

As a center that focuses on education, we hope to gain the support of local people in New Smyrna Beach as well as create a positive global impact. By visiting the center, people can understand the foundation of our mission, which can then lead to further involvement in outreach. Our education programs are various in their lessons, but also in the range of age they cater to. This is what I’m passionate about right now, so being educated and continuing to educate would be a wonderful manifestation of support for me.Anything else I should ask you or you would like to share?         

I can’t think of anything right now, but keep a look out for MDC events. Lagoonacy is April 13th. It is our main fundraising event, but also is a place where members of the community can come together to share their interests and strengths!