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Reefs: Catalyst for a Life of Learning, Tough Love and Fun Work

Title Reefs: Catalyst for a Life of Learning, Tough Love and Fun Work
Publication Type Journal
Year of Publication 2019
Authors White AT
Keywords USAID, SEA Project
Abstract Given my years young, most people assume I am well into a retirement phase of life. It is not that I don’t contemplate ‘retirement’, but the reality is that I am much happier being fully engaged in activities with a sense of direction and contributing to the needs of marine conservation and all that entails. Presently I am 4 years into guiding a large 5- year U.S. Government supported marine conservation project in Indonesia. And while I would like to say that the job gets easier with experience, the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (SEA) Project ( is probably the most challenging of my career, and yet also tremendously rewarding. “Challenging” in the sense of scale of Indonesian marine conservation issues, and in the complexities of working in Indonesia and trying to comprehend what will make a real difference, and when our efforts are simply blowing in the wind. But, rewarding because of the amazing dedication and fortitude of a young generation of Indonesians who are working to figure out how to protect reefs, set up effective marine protected areas, improve policies, develop innovative law enforcement approaches, do useful marine science, and raise awareness across thousands of small communities in coastal areas of the country. So, while my wife Vangie and I have adapted to life in Indonesia, and like the country and the people, and are probably learning as much professionally and personally as at any time in our lives, we still miss our home in Hawaii where we will return in several years…


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