Great news 2+ years later!

On January 4, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Maria de Oca Echarte

One of our six camp graduates, Evelyn Cupil-Garcia, will be joining Duke next fall to study a major in Computer Engineering and a minor in Art!

Congratulations, Evelyn!!

Read more about Evelyn in one of the blog posts she wrote during the Camp:

Meet the Students: Evelyn Cupil-Garcia


Final Report

On September 29, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Maria de Oca Echarte

We are proud to present the Final Project Report for our 2014 Summer Session! We had many things to say and only four pages to fill so, hopefully, we have managed to summarize well our grand adventure! We hope that you will enjoy reading it. Please, click on the images to enlarge and share with us any feedback you may have. We would love to hear from you!


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And so it is, the summer camp came to an end! Our great adventure finished with two weeks of intensive work on the students’ final film projects. These projects were designed for the students to take all what we had covered in the previous four weeks and create their own film. Also, these films are one of their ways to give back and thank our collaborators for sharing their time and expertise with them. ‘Trash Free Seas’ is a film on the volunteer efforts at Atlantic Beach to collect trash and improve the living conditions of turtles in the area, and ‘Marshallberg Farm’ is a promotional video of a sustainable aquaculture and beef farm in Smyrna. Check them out!



As professional filmmakers do, the students presented their films in a public screening. The event was on Thursday, July 31 at the Repass Lecture Hall of the Duke Marine Lab. We provided refreshments and the student’s families brought some wonderful food to share with everybody: empanadas, sushi, chicken salad, sugar cookies… like Lianne Won pointed out, we had the best food served that night in all of Beaufort!

The event began with some introductory words and acknowledgements by the program directors, Sarah Noll and I. In case you missed it, here is the transcript:

SARAH: Welcome, my name is Sarah Noll and I teach English as a Second Language at West Carteret High School in Morehead City.  Tonight, five students from West Carteret and one from Croatan High School will be presenting 2 short films that they created in a first-time summer program called “The Ocean Filmmaking Camp at Duke Marine Lab.” This program resulted from my collaboration with a doctoral student here at Duke named Maria de Oca.  Last fall, Maria responded to my request for volunteers to tutor ESL students at the high school.  In the spring, I told her about the lack of summer opportunities for many of the students I work with.  Maria came up with the idea to offer this camp to a small group of local high school students.  It combined her two passions of filmmaking and oceanography. 

We identified all of the applicants as students showing academic promise who come from homes where English is a second language.  The program was offered at no cost to the students, and transportation was provided by CCATS; without this transportation, the students would simply not have been able to participate.  Everyone involved in the camp did so on a volunteer basis. Every Tuesday and Thursday for six weeks, these students had the opportunity to learn basic filmmaking skills  and explore the local marine environment to learn about ocean conservation.  ( I want to point out that 5 of the 6 had never even used a video camera before, and didn’t know what a tripod was!)  In addition to the filmmaking sessions, they have taken a night-time boat ride to Carrot Island, had a behind-the-scenes tour of the North Carolina Aquariums in Pine Knoll Shores, visited a traditional fish-house down East, learned how to use a hydrophone, and interacted with professional scientists here at Duke Marine Lab. 

Now, tonight, the students have an opportunity to “give back” to the community, with their films that will benefit Marshallberg Farm in Smyrna, and the North Carolina Aquarium.  In a few moments, the students will introduce themselves to you and present their films.  After the screening, we will have a brief Q & A session, followed by homemade refreshments provided by the families of our six participants.  Before the students introduce themselves, Maria would like to thank the many people who generously gave their time and talent to make all of this possible. 

MARIA: Sarah, thank you for your words. I would like to begin by thanking you, firstly for welcoming me to your ESL class and, then, for embarking in this crazy adventure with me of organizing the summer camp. It is the first time we both have done this and it was only possible because we worked together.

I would also like to thank Dr. Cindy Van Dover, for her initial support to the idea of the camp and for providing the funding necessary to run the program. It is with that funding that we were able to provide the transportation necessary for the students.

Also, thank you to Scottee Cantrell, Associate Dean of Marketing, Communications and Strategic Engagement of the Nicholas School of the Environment. She loaned us at no cost the cameras, tripods, light kits, microphones… all the equipment we needed to run the film production part of the program.

I would like to thank all of the administration and IT staff at the Duke Marine Lab like Belinda Williford, Rebecca Smith, Dominick Brugnolotti, just to name a few. All of them have been extremely patient with me.

Also, thank you to Kate Brogan, Communications Specialist at the NC Coastal Reserve. She created the website for the program that has helped us spread the word about the camp and it has kept all speakers and collaborators informed about what we were doing.

Megumi Shimizu, thank you for organizing for us to be here today. This final screening is happening thanks to her.

Dr. Tom Schultz,  thank you for your guidance in the initial development of the marine science and conservation curriculum of the program.

Kim Hernandez, she has been our speaker, actress… everything! Thank you for being so involved with the camp.

Georgia Minnich, Exhibits Curator at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Thank you for giving us a guided tour at no cost of the Aquarium (that included behind-the-scenes!). Also, thank you for giving to us the opportunity of making a video for one of your exhibits and for making it possible for us to work with Suzanne.

Suzanne Lewis, Videographer at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Her long experience in filmmaking and teaching film has been key in the teaching of the video production part of the program. I have learned so much from you, thank you, Suzanne.

Brian Reburn, Dr. IJ Won and Lianne Won from Marshallberg Farm. They gave to us a guided tour of their facilities and allowed us to film them and interview them. Thank you for all your time and your patience.

Finally, thank you to all our speakers. Two of them are here today, Dr. Kersey Sturdivant and Elizabeth McDonald. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us and for inspiring the students to continue with their studies.

After these words, the students presented themselves and their films. Akina, Aurelio and Ana Paola presented their film on Marshallberg Farm, and Veronica, Evelyn and Zhuying presented their film on sea turtle conservation. Following the showing of the films the students answered questions from the audience. These questions included: What is your next film project? What part of the program did you enjoy the most? And, what was the hardest part of making your film? It is curious that they all said that the hardest part was film editing and also it was the part that they enjoyed the most!


SARAH:  Before we conclude for refreshments in the common area, we would like to present each participant with a certificate of completion of the camp, and a small gift from Belinda Williford and Rebecca Smith of the Duke Marine Lab.  We are really proud of these young people and what they accomplished during this program.  Both individually, and in their groups, they did a fantastic job.  They never missed a day of the camp, and would come bright-eyed, enthusiastic, and ready to learn. 

(After presenting them with their awards…) Finally, the students and I would like to thank the one person without whom this summer camp would have never been possible.  Maria, in this bag you will find a handmade card by Akina signed by all the students, a framed photograph of the students, and a gift certificate for the Coastal Community Market so you can treat yourself to some Marshallberg Farm grass-bed beef!  We are so grateful to you for the countless hours you have worked so that we can be here tonight at this screening.  Thank you for everything.  Now, please join us for refreshments! 




I hope that you have all enjoyed following us throughout our summer adventure! We are hoping to offer this program again next year, so keep tuned! You will hear again from us very soon… 🙂 Now we will leave you with a scanned image of our local newspaper, Carteret County News-Times, which ran a story about the camp on August 1. Enjoy and take care!



This week Sarah Noll works with Ana Paola (Tuesday) and Zhuying (Thursday) to report on the filmmaking and science that we learned this fourth week at the Camp. We hope you have enjoyed our reports so far. Now we only have two weeks left ’til the end of the program!


On Tuesday, we were divided in two groups of three, to start planning how we are going to do our videos. In my group there is Akina, Aurelio, and me; Akina is the director and Aurelio and me are in charge of the video and the sound. We choose Marshallberg Farm for our project. We have to advertise the farm and tell in one minute video how Brian (the person in charge of running the farm) raises the fish that produce caviar and also how he rises the cattle from which he produces meat, and why his work is unique around this place.


The first thing that we did on Tuesday was to plan and write the script, make a list of the equipment that we are going to need, and sketch the scenes that we are going to shoot. The other group, Veronica, Zhuying and Evelyn planned their video about sea turtles and the problem of trash in the marine environment. Each group presented their ideas.

All the video planning was from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Then at 1:00pm we had a great talk with Elizabeth McDonald about dolphins and whales. Actually that was my favorite part of the day because Elizabeth told us how she investigates whales and she also let us hear different recordings of the sounds that the whales and dolphins made. This was my first time hearing whales and dolphins and I really enjoyed it.


Elizabeth showed to us a video of Arnoux’s Beaked Whales swimming in unusual formation, and told us about her assignment to come up with a hypothesis on what the whales were doing. She pointed out that even large marine mammals like whales are mysterious and barely-understood, so imagine what more we have to learn about life in the ocean!


On Thursday, we had colorful activities around the topic of marine conservation. From 9:00 am to 10:00 am, Dr. Xavier Basurto, who studies how humans interact with the marine environment, gave us a lecture about his work with 2 fishing villages in Mexico that harvest pen shells. The pen shells have two thin-walled, fan-shaped shells and are one of the largest bivalves in the world. They will only be found on sandy or grassy bottoms exposed by very low tides. They are economically important and most are threatened by overexploitation and habitat degradation. In Mexico, pen shells are harvested for food. The fisherman will throw the shells back to ocean after taking out the meat. Xavier showed us pictures and videos of his work with the fishermen. We talked about the videos he has made of pen-shell harvesting, and how “movie night” (showing the videos in his laptop to the fishermen at the end of a long day) has helped give them pride in their work and in their way of life.



From 11 am to 12:00 am, Dr. Kersey Sturdivant, who studies the seafloor ecosystem, gave us a lecture about his work. He designed “Wormcam” to record the activities of organisms that live on and under the sediment, including worms, shrimps and crabs.


He brought in and showed us the “Wormcam” that he has developed. The “Wormcam” can take pictures of the marine lives on the seafloor, so people will find out how the creatures are living without diving into the deep ocean. He also gave us some advice about how to be a successful scientist. The key point is to keep trying and do what you really love doing. The students were very excited to learn that he had been in Brazil for the World Cup! Apparently, before achieving a doctorate in marine science Kersey dreamed of a career as a professional soccer player.


From 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm in the afternoon, Kim Hernandez gave a lecture about sea turtle science and conservation. Kim is from Kansas, where there is no ocean, but she loves sea turtles. She graduated from her Master’s degree at Duke and she has studied sea turtles in NC, Hawai’i and Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean. She has worked as a volunteer to protect turtle nests here, and told us about ways people can help sea turtle populations. Marine trash is one of the biggest challenges to the turtles, because it can trap them or make them sick. This presentation was very relevant to us because we will be filming next week a video about sea turtle conservation and Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Project. Kim gave to us the idea to make our video about this and we already started filming for it in Week 2, when we interviewed her about the efforts she is doing with other volunteers for this Project in Atlantic Beach.

Finally, Kim encouraged the students to get involved, travel the world, and follow their dreams – just like she is doing!