SOAR has a serious side in its missions to help kids find ways of helping the ocean and watersheds throughout the world. I started on having seen hundreds of albatrosses killed by plastic debris at Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). I was inspired by the questions of young people in Ohio and by USFWS biologists working hard to protect endangered species and damaged habitats.

SOAR has a very fun and tough to define side.....thanks to FRED AND FRIENDS, Project SOAR helps with watershed and ocean workshops throughout the world, and generally makes people smile while they learn some tough stuff about how we treat our rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and the one ocean on planet earth..........


SOAR introduces young people to ways they can make a difference in their local community and the wider world.

Take advantage by:

1) Invite a SOAR learning kit or bring Ron Hirschi to your school as a guest author or speaker for your organization. Ron has many years experience as an author and as a biologist. SOAR adds another dimension to his list of hands on projects he shares in writing, art, and ecology workshops.

Many schools invite Ron for his work as author of more than 50 nonfiction books, including many with ocean themes. Others bring him to school as a scientist or artist, but the best fit is always when schools use Ron to help them integrate curriculum.

Tom Bates, Principal at Tremont Elementary in Ohio recently said in an interview following Ron's visit, "What stood out to me was how Ron was able to gear his activities and discussion and information so it was meaningful to the students, whether they were in kindergarten or fifth grade."

Be in touch at whalemail@waypoint.com for visit information.

2) SOAR now has a new kit circling the globe along with a Laysan Albatross "Friend of Fred". This duo is packaged with a box full of ideas, activities, information about Papahanaumokuakea, ocean debris, and other materials aimed at sparking new projects related to the sea. Also included is a journal chronicling Fred's adventures, all of which began when kids at Columbus School for Girls (CSG) learned how they could take action to help the ocean.

Currently, this treasured package is in the hands of The Bush School in Seattle.

NOTE: You might also be lucky to receive one of the earlier packages with a FRED and Friend, already traveling. To date, Fred has visited Australia, Switzerland, Israel, England, The Dominican Republic, and many corners of the United States.

23 May 2010


In the Highest Traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service, Mokapu Elementary is not only lean and green, it's a true fighting machine, out to rid the ocean and land (Kai i ka Aina) of all forms of human insult. I had the honor of working with the sons and daughters of our enlisted men and women who are stationed at and serve from Marine Corps Base, HAWAII at the special place called Mokapu, on the Island of Oahu.

For those of you interested in United States military history, this was the very first place bombed on December 7, 1941 just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Brave Marines and Navy personnel gave their lives here and fought valiantly.........And long before this battle, Mokapu was a most sacred place in Hawaiian creation story.......It was here that the first man was created (See works of Mary Kawena Pukui to learn more of this history tied to the creation of Pihemanu and all the islands.)

Books could also be written to tell the incredible history of how Mokapu and Marine Corps Base Hawaii is becoming a world leader in turning an entire community Green. As a very small part of this much larger effort, The Cougar Fund and the Marine Corps Family allowed me to work with artist and gifted teacher, Michelle Kaskovich. Michelle and her fellow marines, parents, teachers, and super staff at Mokapu School teamed together to create a working environment like no other. As a hint of things to come, where else could you tell the story of a cougar while young artists paint a life size whale on the school grounds to the tunes strummed on a unkulele by a young Kai Kane (ocean guy)?

We brought the wonder of Mokapu and Eddie, two Cougars (aka Puma and Mountain Lion) into the lives of kids who have family in Afghanistan and Iraq. They had fun and learned while they helped continue a story begun in Rhode Island and Breidablik, Washington. It is a story you will soon read and enjoy through sight and sound and writings of kids sharing how they see their world from Mountain Top to flowing rivers, and beyond to the much broader and vast waters of our one ocean.

It seems that Mokapu has many meanings, many faces and our little Mokapu the Cougar fell snout over paws for a surfing Cougar by the name of Eddie. They must have met at Brown University in RI or over a bowl of chowder and some stuffies at Duffy's. No matter. They parted company briefly and Eddie hopped a tramp steamer or a schooner and headed south, then west and north to meet up with his buddy Fred and Fred's many other friends (FOF). Moli the Wandering Albatross was one of these FOF's and according to some kids, Moli spotted Eddie surfing after his boat ride ended after a confrontation with pirates.

Hard to follow? Stay tuned and the kids will take over and allow you to enter the magical world where no one dies, where no one cries - the land of make believe. Okay, our funding partners also asked that kids teach us some science and ecology too, so you will soon see how kids have been teaching "Art and Ecology" with Cougars as icons representing the entire Mainland and many FOF's representing ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, estuaries, and, of course, the OCEAN.

Funny how this all came together and if you are lucky to meet up with Fred and his buddies, you will soon find out that Cougars are vital for the survival of all life, just as sea turtles and salmon are critical for aquatic systems to function. More importantly, you ought to take the time to ask kids from Rhode Island, Ohio, Washington, Wyoming, Oahu, Australia, South Africa, Great Britain, and many other places --- "Mokapu, Mokapu, Where are You?".........the sometimes silly, but always sacred trust we put in our children shines in this gentle story that combines creativity of many people. And, the special thanks to the US Marine Corps, the Parents of Mokapu Students, The Cougar Fund, and a tiny non-profit known as POP - Pals of the Pacific. POP is now home of Friends of Fred and busy as it might be, takes the time to think and act locally and globally on behalf of all creatures and their home, planet earth.

Marrowstone Island, Springtime 2010    

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X310 Plastic Ocean Activity

It's me, Fred, the Monkey.

If you look closely, you can see I wear X310's leg band around my neck. It's to remind me of her. She was a Laysan Albatross. She was born in March 2008 and lived on Pihemanu, one of the most remote atolls on earth, now part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

You can wonder about Pihemanu and about X310. She didn't live very long, dying in June 2008. Her parents flew thousands and thousands of miles finding food for her. But x310, like lots of baby albatrosses died before she got to soar the seas. Some albatrosses fly three million miles during their life. Like X310's parents, their sea is a new challenge in food finding because of our actions on land.

Adult albatrosses fly more than a thousand miles just to get a single meal for their babies. But the ocean is full of plastic. And if you read my buddy, Ron's blog and website, you learn about plastic in the sea. It is everywhere and babies like X310 die because they eat so much plastic, they can not get it out of their stomachs.

Where's all this plastic come from?
Where does it go?

Here is a simple activity:

Get up from your chair and walk around the classroom or wherever you are sitting.

Write down each thing around you that is made of plastic.

Everybody compare lists and make a total of the plastic products.

Now, the hard part of this activity:

Can you find alternatives for the things you use, alternatives not made of plastic?
Maybe start with drinking water from a fountain or glass or reuseable container?
Maybe start a really good recycling project?
Maybe make some art from recycled plastic?
Learn more on links here on this site and others.
Talk about times with no plastic.
X310 would have appreciated if people, just a few years ago had decided to make a plastic-free world for you....
You and X310.

Learn how you can SOAR with FRED by arranging a visit with Fred and his ocean teaching kit by emailing his banana provider at whalemail@waypoint.com


What you need:

Pint size plastic beverage container with wide mouth (about 1.5 inches) ---This approximates the size of a baby albatross stomach and esophagus.

Important to have the lid too.

Enough plastic items (bottle caps, toothbrush, legos, fishing line, small chunks of nylon rope, markers, pens, more bottle caps and even a few more bottle caps since they are pretty much the most common marine debris.

Talk with your audience of kids of any age about ocean debris and the way adult albatrosses fly out a few hundred or even a thousand miles to find flying fish eggs and squid for the little ones. They return to Pihe Manu or up on the Northeast shore of Kauai, find their young one among thousands of others and begin to feed by regurgitating "food".......

As you talk about this, have the kids place one or two pieces of the plastic into the bottle.

Replace cap with each addition of plastic. Shake gently to mimic bird moving around the nesting area a bit.

Remove cap. Shake gently to mimic the bird trying to dislodge "food" that can not be digested. In a perfect ocean, this would be squid beaks, fish bones, or other natural pieces of food.

Add more plastic, repeating above until no plastic falls out of the bottle when cap is removed (bill is opened) and the bird tries and tries, but can not toss up the mass of debris. See how much and how many different kinds of plastic can be added. Does the rope tangle with the legos and bottle caps. Do five bottle caps cause a blockage in the esophagus???

In nature, the upchucked mass is like an owl pellet and is known as a bolus. Natural foods slip freely through the esophagus and more feeding can continue. Most times, a baby albatross will toss up one bolus before leaving the nesting island. Unfortunately, thousands die because plastic blocks the stomach completely.

Your feeding the baby albatross activity can lead to a lot of discussion of plastics we use, discard, then find their way into the ocean and into the mouth of a baby albatross.

If you want to have a Baby Albatross Feeding Kit, complete with some plastic items that actually came from once living albatross at Pihe Manu, Papahanaumokuakea, be in touch.