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Danika Strecko

Manager of Ocean Literacy
Ocean Wise
Danika Strecko | Gestionnaire de l’éducation océanique
Danika Strecko | Gestionnaire de l’éducation océanique
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Danika Strecko is the Manager of Ocean Literacy for Ocean Wise.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Richmond (Vancouver), BC

I now live in: Vancouver, BC

I completed my training/education at: Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia

What I do at work

Managing and creating content for the Ocean Wise Online Programs. This includes overseeing the following parts of our program at the Vancouver Aquarium:

  1. The Vancouver Aquarium offers virtual field trips. This includes connecting an educator and classroom, through video conference, with an expert for a live experience in the wet lab or in one of the galleries.
  2. We also provide resources and lesson plans for teachers. This includes our Ocean Literacy course where elementary, middle school and high school students can earn digital badges through interactive learning.
  3. A wide range of hands on, experiential programs designed for specific classroom needs.

My career path is

I was born by the ocean. When I was 14, I got my diving certificate with my father, with whom I scuba dove with locally. Through this experience, I discovered the rich diversity of sea life here. This includes such organisms as rockfish, the giant Pacific octopus, cod, spot prawns, lingcod, and curious sea lions. Harbour seals also loved to hang around, but could be very curious, which I learned one day when one seal tried to bite at my fins!

In my studies, I opted for the integrated science program at UBC (University of British Columbia). But, as my studies continued, I grew dissatisfied about getting little experimental and practical knowledge. I started volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium as an educator and learned from that experience that I really liked teaching science to others. This caused me to go back to school and got my teaching degree. From there, I taught high school for a few years, but always came back to the Aquarium to work with sleepover programs. Since it was hard finding a full time position as a teacher, when the opportunity came to get a full-time position at the aquarium, it was an easy choice for me.

The most challenging part in my new career was learning the necessary digital skills to prepare the web content. I really like the hands-on experience, and I have always been close to the ocean. Now, I needed to activate my creativity to find ways to engage students who do not have the ocean in their backyard. I wanted to help people fall in love with the oceans. My strong suit is my experience as a teacher, which has helped me to build good lesson plans, which align with the curriculum.

Since I am using technology in to deliver programs there is always something to learn. When connecting to teachers, it is hard to predict what technology they might be using or what problems can occur. As a result, being prepared to help troubleshoot their audio and camera if necessary keeps me on my toes! Recently, we have also collaborated with One Ocean to do live broadcasts from their ship in Antarctica. This involved broadcasting live on social media. We also managed to connect to more remote Indigenous communities thanks to the help of major partners who helped us set-up working Wi-Fi in remote locations.

When I became a full-time teacher in BC, it was a difficult time to find work. It took some perseverance and willingness to teach any class and any subject available. This experience allowed me to realize, at the same time, that a lot of education can happen outside the formal school system. Without that initial struggle, I might not have landed the job that I now love.

I am motivated by

The people I work with make my career the most interesting and rewarding. I find it inspiring to be surrounded by folks that are always challenging themselves to live greener more sustainable lives through biking to work or going zero waste. The animal care team and fellow educators are wonderful resources that help me to be a lifelong learner. The conversations I get to have with students give me incredible optimism for the health of our oceans and the entire planet. The innovation, creativity and enthusiasm from youth across the country is the best motivation to keep doing what I am doing.

How I affect peoples’ lives

We try to reach out to students and educators across Canada, to increase awareness that the health of our oceans has an impact on everyone. Each choice we make matters in protecting our oceans. We want to connect people to the issues around ocean health – even if they have not seen the ocean! This is why we offer virtual programs and online lessons. These help include all regions, and remind students that we are all impacted by the health of our environment.

We also offer social learning programs, which connect 8 to 12 classrooms for about three months. These classrooms engage in discussions on a certain topic, which we organize through a weekly call. Our team works with the students in this program to reach out to their communities and share what they have learned.

Outside of work I

Scuba diving, kayaking, cycling along the sea wall. Also, I am a huge comic book fan – Batman is my favorite!

Volunteering is a wonderful way to try new things and build new skills. I volunteer as an outdoor educator teaching the public about organisms that live on our local beaches.

My advice to others

Look for opportunities to do what you enjoy and be creative in how you approach challenges. There are so many great careers that blend science, art and business together that I wasn’t aware of as a teen. 

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Learned best “by doing”

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