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.

11 July 2010


A year has now passed since I visited Pihemanu (aka Midway Atoll) as part of the NOAA, USFWS, and State of Hawaii project to launch environmental leaders into some form of action. As you can read and see from the blog posts at this and other sites, my little friend, Fred has traveled to all corners of the world. I got to tag along on occasion and feel pretty good about the projects we launched in Ohio, England, Switzerland, South Africa, Oahu, Washington, and other locations.

It has been a fun yet tiring year of learning how to best approach ways of teaching about ocean issues while "swimming the swim" of protecting and restoring ocean health. I've tried best as I can to act locally and globally.......cleaning up tons of plastic (now called Trastic, thanks to my buddies in Rhode Island, greatest small place on planet Earth!)..........The best things, I do believe, are far less tangible. Say, for example, meeting a young Uk player at Mokapu.......Kai Kane now plays at his school under the watchful eye and heart of his Kupuna and others, singing his heart and soulful renditions of IZ tunes while the other kids make art and speak ecological wisdom beyond their years. Kai Kane and friends created a Big Book that will teach about how to Malama i ke Kai i ka Aina........even teaching Rocky Mountain and Cascade Mountain kids how to protect Cougar and other large predator habitats.

Imagine. A year ago, I thought I was going to simply clean up some oceans, ridding them of plastic. Little did I know the path would lead to ukulele strummings connecting Mokapu (Sacred land of Oahu where, according to Hawaiian Legend, the very first Kai Kane, or human, was created) with Wyoming!

but then, my work has always been about kids finding their way along water routes. Headwaters to the Sea and back again, I get to travel and teach ocean with nets, cameras, fishing poles, microscopes, water testing gear, and tons of paint and pencil. Making art seems critical to all this and young Kai Kane's musical talent simply gives voice to the need for more and more art within our schools. Making art with kids is where it's at.

If you wish, come to Seattle this winter and listen to Dr. Sharon Buda and I weave our stories of art and ecology that begin in Indian Creek, Ohio and travel to Oahu and beyond. We will be at the National Art Educator Association annual gathering, spreading the word about taking kids outside to do science and art. We hope to include work by others who have followed the journey of Fred and Friends to Pihemanu, others like Maya Plass, Director of LEARN TO SEA (find links here or google Maya and her organization and/or the 2010 PAA journaling).

Maya and I talked many times during the past year and she was fortunate to visit Pihemanu this year. She and the other group of 12 PAA leaders now have a year to do their best to take Kuleana (Responsibility) for a project(s) set out there in the middle of the ocean where our Papahanaumoku and Wakea got together to create all life on earth........it is now up to them to find some new ways of making earth healthy again. Hey, one person can make a bit of a diff, so go for it Maya.

Aloha nui loa,   Ron Hirschi   (Fredless on Marrowstone Island, June 2010) 


Learn To Sea - Maya Plass said...

Mahalo nui Ron. Yes, Pihemanu certainly instills a deep sense of responsibility and promotes an urge to create that change to protect our marine world. You certainly have achieved that through Fred and all your creative & fun work in raising the profile of "trastic" - or the Plasticene era as somebody called it in Midway!

It's amazing where one 10 day experience can take you. I am so looking forward to the journey that I will take / am taking in promoting marine conservation and connecting children from across the oceans on common marine issues. It wouldn't have happened without Fred the Monkey & his infectious smile!

Fred will be on his way home to you with new memories of Pihemanu, a collection of photos and alot of inspiration and hope for the future.

Mahalo Ron & Fred for all the amazing things you have achieved! You are an inspiration!


Learn To Sea - Maya Plass said...

Mahalo nui Ron - I just sent a message but it appears to have been lost - I'll start again! you and Fred have done so much. Your stories have touched so many people and worked towards creating that "Tipping point" which I think will protect our oceans and seas for the future. Fred has touched so many lives, created personal change, made people think, made people change their ways and made people smile. What an incredible monkey. He will be ,making his way back to you with memories, photos and more inspiration and hope for the future. (He loved freediving with the honu, ulua & naia.)

I am looking forward to Learn To Sea's journey and projects to twin schools, promote a better understanding of our oceans, make friendships and work towards positive change. How lucky we are to have this opportunity.

At a time when there are financial cuts for environmental posts, funding & projects it takes something like Fred the Monkey to remind us that anything is possible.

Mahalo nui Fred & Ron for all the lives you have touched and change you have created. You are both an inspiration!

With friendship from across our oceans...

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.