Adam Ratner

Roles at NAAEE:

CCC Fellow

Associate Director of Conservation Education
The Marine Mammal Center

Adam Ratner is the Guest Experience Manager at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, a nonprofit marine mammal hospital and science center. He coordinates the day-to-day visitor and education operations, including training and managing 130 education volunteers, and managing tours, classroom programming, and exhibits.  Adam also leads numerous sustainability initiatives and education programming on topics including climate change, ocean trash, and sustainable seafood. In addition, he is one of the 1,000 volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center, volunteering up to 4 times a week, caring for the harbor seals, elephant seals, and sea lions during the week, and as part of the rescue team on Fridays and Saturdays. Adam previously served as the primary educator for the Center, responsible for teaching programs for preK-aged children through senior citizens, and as the Youth Programs Coordinator, managing a program for high school students to care for marine mammal patients. Before the Marine Mammal Center, he conducted research on animal behavior in labs around the county, studying bird hearing and speech, and fish learning and memory.

Fellowship Project

Through a system of training classes focusing on climate change, we will introduce hundreds of adult and youth education volunteers and staff to the science of climate change; providing them with tools for interpreting the science to audiences of all ages, and techniques to guide guests to identify solution-based actions to reduce their carbon footprint and become better environmental stewards. Leveraging The Marine Mammal Center as an NAAEE partner, the training classes will enhance the the ability of front line staff, volunteers, and community leaders to communicate about climate change effectively to the guests of The Center, and environmental organizations in the Bay area and beyond. The training will leverage the Center’s reputation, and highly visited facility, to reach over 100,000 people a year. The training offerings address numerous critical areas, such as opportunities for the community to participate in continuing education on ocean health and climate change; giving dedicated, environmentally-focused individuals in the community the tools to become successful non-formal educators, creating informed citizens and fostering an appreciation for volunteerism and community involvement. 
Given our current volunteer community of non-formal educators, and visitor demographics, we anticipate to reach over 120 current adult and youth education volunteers, 40 Center staff, and to train 80 new non-formal educators, starting at age 15 through adult seniors. These trained individuals will be able to reach approximately 100,000 people, over one year, who visit The Marine Mammal Center, participate in outreach events within our 600-mile range of California coast, and visit our new hospital for Hawaiian monk seals on Kona, Hawaii. We expect to see dramatic shifts in climate change knowledge and communication in our education corps (to be evaluated through pre- and post-training surveys) through our continuing education, and in visitor behavior and receptiveness to climate change education.
The climate change program will be delivered over the course of one year and consist of interactive trainings and informational handouts for The Marine Mammal Center staff, current education and Center volunteers, and new training offerings for interested members of the community. Digital training tools, including a website dedicated to climate change science, interpretation and solutions, as well as a webcast of the trainings will also be produced.  
This project builds upon the system of the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation which provides staff and volunteers at respected, highly trafficked environmental organizations with climate change science and scientifically-tested communication strategies from social psychologists, to guide visitors toward strategies to reduce their fossil fuel use. This “train the trainers” program will reach hundreds of thousands of people each year and is easily replicable by other organizations, using the tools created from this program.  The program will empower individuals and communities with the science of climate change and solutions to reduce their fossil fuel use. Bringing together experts from different fields of science, communication, and social psychology allows us to build messages that are powerful and relatable, leading to stewardship in our communities, while being consistent across numerous organizations around the country.