About Get Inspired
a 501c3 nonprofit organization

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Get Inspired Inc. is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Before ever even seeing the ocean, Get Inspired’s founder, Nancy Caruso, was inspired to become a marine biologist in the 4th grade. “It just took one lesson on oceanography”, she explains, “and an amazing, caring teacher, and I was set on my path for life. I knew exactly what I was meant to do.”

 

Science is all about asking questions. It takes a creative mind to ask the right questions. The future of scientific discoveries is only limited by our creativity.

The integration of STEAM programming into our schools has created the perfect environment for Get Inspired’s programs to continue to inspire students through the exploration of science.

Our programs are designed to inspire stewardship and curiosity for the natural world through the exploration of science. We continue to be recognized for our efforts and successes in the classroom and in the field.

Learn more about Get Inspired programs and get involved today!

History and Accomplishments

Founded in 2009

Kelp forests are home to more than 800 species along our coast. After being gone for more than 20 years, we restored Orange County’s kelp forests. With help from more than 200 volunteer divers to plant it and monitor it and with the help of 5000 kids growing it in their classrooms, we restored this precious resource.

While working in 37 different schools in LA and Orange Counties we have been able to educate over 15,000 students. We have worked in grades 2 through college level with hands-on custom-made nurseries for abalone, aquaponics, giant kelp, and white sea bass. We also lead Science Expeditions programs to take kids out into nature to experience ecology and geology. Scuba diving, hiking, climbing, rappelling, camping, star gazing, kayaking, and snorkeling are all part of our 1-5 day programs. We now have students returning to work with us as professional marine biologists!

To celebrate the return of Giant Kelp to our Orange County coast we created KelpFest in Laguna Beach. It is an annual event to educate the public about this import algae living off our coast. With thousands of annual participants including more than 300 girl and boy scouts, some earning their gold and Eagle awards, it is a treasured event in Laguna Beach.

Our accomplishments would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers. We have trained over 300 generous volunteers to monitor, survey, and outplant, to assist us in our ocean restoration projects and public outreach. THANK YOU!

Nearly 5000 students have raised and released more than 2500 white seabass in an effort to restore them along our coast.  This program is in partnership with Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and aims to teach students about ocean chemistry, kelp forest ecology, and aquaculture. Our dependence on food from our oceans must be reimagined and sustainable and restorative aquaculture is one way to do that. Students learn to make seawater, to test water chemistry, manage fish health, and to weigh, measure, tag and release fish which will help our seabass populations.

Due to an unprecedented series of events dubbed the “Perfect Storm” https://cdfwmarine.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/perfect-storm-decimates-kelp/ the Northern California kelp forests disappeared. After working for 10 years to restore our kelp in southern California, Get Inspired knew exactly what to do. However, no one was listening to us or acting on our recommendations. So, we took matters into our own hands to try to become the catalyst for others to follow in our footsteps to make change. We created a video about the dire situation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnHMwloticU&t and raised the funds to hire fishermen with permits to harvest sea urchins, to begin clearing them off the reefs to make room for the kelp. We funded this work for 2 years through our fundraising efforts and it worked! There are now more than a dozen other nonprofit groups who have taken ownership of the effort and working to help the kelp! Sometimes, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.

Seven species of abalone once teemed the shores of California, we thought we would never deplete them as there were so many, they were stacked on top of one another. You actually had to step over abalone to get to in the ocean in the 1920’s. After 100 years of harvesting, they all but gone now. In 2009 we started experimenting with growing them and outplanting them in the ocean and found how to teach kids to grow them and also at what size they had the greatest survival in the ocean. Now, we have nearly 5000 baby abalone growing in classrooms and public aquariums around southern California. Kids are learning about abalone biology and ecology and the story of how we nearly ate them all in one human lifetime. More than 3,000 kids have grown the abalone in their classrooms and we have trained more than 250 volunteers to help us plant them and survey them in the ocean. Our goal is to restore reproductive green abalone populations along our coast.

We regularly attend public events with our exhibits and also speak at local recreational and civic group meetings to explain our mission, tell our stories, and share what we have accomplished.

Awards and Acknowledgements

Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Award – Bank of America

Commitment to Education / Ocean Science Leadership Award - Quicksilver/USC

Ocean Hero Award - Oceana

Earth Month Hero - Wyland Foundation

My Hero Award - My Hero Foundation

“100 Most Influential People in Orange County” - OC Register

Appointed by the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife commissioners as a member of the Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee for the state of California

Scientific Publications From Our Work

Caruso, Nancy L. (2017). Outplanting large adult green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) as a strategy for population restoration. California Fish and Game 103(4): 183-194

Ebert, T. A., Barr, L. M., Bodkin, J. L., Burcham, D., Bureau, D., Carson, H. S., L. Caruso, N., et al. (2018), Size, growth, and density data for shallow-water sea urchins from Mexico to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1956–2016. Ecology, 99: 761. doi:10.1002/ecy.2123

Burcham, D., Nancy L. Caruso. 2015. Abundance, size, and occurrence of Arbacia stellata in Orange County, California.  2015. California Fish and Game (101)3

Gruenthal, K. M, D. A. Witting, T. Ford, M. J. Neuman, J. P. Williams, D. J. Pondella II, A. Bird,  N. Caruso, J. R. Hyde,  L. W. Seeb, W. A. Larson. 2014. Development and application of genomic tools to the restoration of green abalone in southern California. Conservation Genetics 15(1): 109-121