The Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme in conjunction with Leave No Trace Ireland welcomed thousands of visitors to their marine education display at the National Ploughing Championships from 18th to 20th September 2018.
President Michael D Higgins and Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, visited the stand, where they learned about the education programmes that are designed to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation as well as promote Ireland's marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity.
Maura Lyons, CEO of Leave No Trace Ireland said, "We were delighted to engage with a record breaking number of visitors, especially to speak with President Higgins and Minister Ring to highlight the importance of Ireland's marine resource. As this year's Ploughing Championships were affected by stormy weather, it was fitting to remind visitors how our ocean affects our weather and climate, in all areas of the country."
The National Ploughing Championships was held in Tullamore, Co Offaly and is regarded as one of Europe's largest outdoor events. This year, the three-day event attracted 240,700 visitors.
"At our exhibit, a huge number of visitors got the opportunity to discover a selection of live native marine species that are typically found in rock pools around the Irish coast including dog fish, plaice and starfish in the Explorers touch-tank boat," said Ms Lyons.
"Visitors were introduced to a number of facts about the marine that highlighted the importance of understanding the ocean and its influence on our daily lives. Many were keen to learn that our marine resource is ten times the size of the island of Ireland and that 1.9 million people live within 5km of the seashore in Ireland."
Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Marine Institute added, "The Ploughing Championships gives the Explorers Education team the opportunity to raise awareness about the oceans influence on us and our influence on the ocean. No matter how far you live from the shore, the ocean affects our lives, and this event was a great opportunity to generate discussion about our valuable marine resource and how to keep our oceans healthy."
The Explorers Education Programme, is supported by the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government. The programme raises awareness and understanding of the ocean through fun lesson plans, resources and activities for primary school teachers. The Explorers Education Programme is delivered by Leave No Trace Ireland in Donegal, Sligo and Mayo. For more information visit www.explorers.ie or www.leavenotraceireland.org