WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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“It is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarium” at Oregon Coast Community College

The outside of the new 9,200 square foot OCCC Aquarium Science Building appears to be ready for occupancy; especially with the addition of the two swimming backlit shark silhouettes that have just been installed on the outside of the building.

Bruce Koike, OCCC Aquarium Science Director, has worked for many years in the husbandry, collection and transportation of sharks at public aquariums, said he chose the shark as the symbol for the building because sharks play a prominent role in public aquariums, the industry has learned how to maintain them and the public wants to see them. Plus, the shark is the OCCC mascot!

The sharks are approximately 12 feet in length and are made of bronze and brushed silver aluminum. gLAs Architects and Ramsay Signs designed the outer shark to arc over the inner shark to give greater dimension to the sculpture. The eyes and gill slits were added for eye-catching detail.

The dedication and ribbon cutting for the new building will take place this Saturday, August 20 beginning at 2:00 p.m. Tours, refreshments and entertainment by the Newport Drum Circle will take place following the ribbon cutting at approximately 3:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited and encouraged to help in this major celebration for the college and the community.

While the outside of the building looks complete with lovely landscaping, there is much going on inside. Koike and two dedicated Aquarium Science student volunteers, Jordan Fry and Sid Stetson, have been feverishly moving lab supplies and instrumentation, completing plumbing for aquatic systems, and unpacking and storing equipment for the animal holding room, food preparation room, and other lab areas. Koike said, “Our students and the college will now have a place we can call our own—we’re all energized about this transition, which will move the program to a higher level.”

OCCC is appreciative of the many partners that have helped make the Aquarium Science Program a success, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, NOAA and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The college is also grateful to the generosity of the National Science Foundation for their financial investment of $779,800 in grant funding to develop and implement the nation’s first Aquarium Science Program. Additionally, the NSF has funded AQS student scholarships in the amount of $443,900.

The Aquarium Science Program has attracted individuals from 23 different states including New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Illinois, Georgia and Florida. These motivated individuals pursue either the two year degree (Associates of Applied Science in Aquarium Science) or the one year Certificate of Completion. The majority of graduates choose to work in an aquarium/zoo setting while others are gainfully employed by research facilities, or state or private fish hatcheries.

To date, 90% are gainfully employed and 75% of those graduates report that they were hired within three months of graduation. Program graduates are working in 19 different states and report a high degree of satisfaction with their experience studying Aquarium Science at OCCC. Call Koike at 541-867-8530 for more information and visit the college website at www.oregoncoastcc.org.

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