Students go behind the scenes at Seattle Aquarium

On Oct. 4, Bellevue College’s Sustainability Department hosted a field trip that took 11 students into Seattle for a day to learn about sustainability in city life. The first place they went was the Seattle Aquarium, where they got a free, behind the scenes tour displaying all of the conservation efforts that take place there. After the aquarium, the students went to Conduit Coffee, where they learned about the inner-workings of a sustainable coffee shop.
Amber Nicholson, the Director of Sustainability at Bellevue College, said that the students and faculty members of Bellevue College were “able to see and learn about the building and functionality of the aquarium, everything from solar panel projects to in-ground skylights for fish. We were also able to see some of the exhibits and learn a bit about marine biology and our underwater Pacific Northwest habitats. At Conduit Coffee, we were able to check out the roasting machine and smell coffee beans from all over the word, including Myanmar and Kenya. We were then able to watch as those same beans were transformed into coffee using different brewing processes, and learn directly from the expert about sustainable coffee growing, farming and sourcing.”
The Seattle Aquarium itself is well known for its conservation efforts. Karen Bosshart, the Outreach Coordinator of the Sustainability Department and the main event planner of the field trip, said that the Seattle Aquarium does “a lot of research at their facilities and rehabilitation of animals that they’ve found washed up on the beach around here or in Oregon. There’s been time when sea turtles will wash up. We’ve had one in the past and the Seattle Aquarium is used as a rehabilitation center.”
The field trip is the first of the year and something that the sustainability department values greatly. Nicholson said, “I believe that in order to make responsible decisions as citizens of this planet, we need to have an understanding of how our choices impact our natural world. This field trip provided students the opportunity to learn about making food choices. Where you get your caffeine from can make a difference on the environment, and also the livelihoods of farmers and others in the coffee supply chain. What you study doesn’t matter when it comes to sustainability, everyone can incorporate sustainability thinking into their career and their lives at home.”
Bosshart said that “what affects the ocean effects the entire world. When the ocean temperatures rise, you’re looking at situations of people who live in coastal area’s lives will be affected and that affects everyone. A lot of people depend on the ocean for their livelihood.”
However, quite a few students struggled with applications and technical difficulties.
Miah Sanders, an Oceanography student interested in going on the field trip, said, “I turned in my signed paper to my teacher the following day and I waited for an email back. I did not receive an email and I really wanted to go the aquarium.”
For those interested, events and field trips are put on by Sustainability throughout the year and can be found at