Earnie Olsen, the supervisor of the Marine Science Station recently received The National Marine Educators Association Outstanding Teacher Award.

Olsen started his journey with the Marine Science Station as a student. He attended Crystal River Primary, Middle and High School which allowed him to go on the annual field trip to the Marine Science Station.

“At an early age I got to come out to the Marine Science Station, I enjoyed coming out here,” Olsen said. “It really stimulated my interest in pursuing a career in Marine Biology.”

Earnie Olsen, supervisor of the Citrus County School District's Marine Science Station in Crystal River.

He continued on to study Marine Biology in college and graduate school. In 2004, Olsen began working at the Academy of Environmental Science. In 2008, he was hired at the Marine Science Station as a teacher and boat captain.

“I was promoted to supervisor in 2014 when my predecessor had retired and I have been the supervisor for about six years now,” Olsen said.

The Marine Science Station has been educating students at all levels for over 50 years. Each educational level gets a different experience when on the trip.

“There is a lot of emphasis on the aquifer, springs, river and estuaries at the elementary levels, at the middle school level we expand it further out into the estuaries and the Gulf. The high school group can be a blend of all those ecosystems but at a deeper level of exploration,” Olsen said.

When the students are at the Marine Science Station and are able to be out on the water to learn about the environment is Olsen’s favorite part of the job.

“To see their excitement and then to build upon that excitement and teach them how the ecosystem works and how important it is for us as humans and our society that’s when it is really satisfying for me,” he said.

Olsen was nominated for the award by a colleague he worked with in the Florida Marine Science Education Association.

“ When COVID started to be a big part of the news and the schools shut down I just completely forgot about me being nominated.” Olsen said.

He remembered he was nominated when he received the award in the mail and called up his colleague to thank her for the nomination.

“I was very surprised and very honored to have received this award,” Olsen said.

Olsen hopes that when students come through the Marine Science Station they take what they learn and use it in their everyday life.

“I would like to instill in the students a respect for nature, a better understanding of their role in the natural environment and that their everyday decisions as a consumer and as a citizen can impact the coastal environment,” he said.

This upcoming school year the Marine Science Station is still looking to give the students the best field trip experience they can, with taking all the necessary safety precautions to keep the students and staff safe.

“We need future leaders and future voters to have a better understanding of the importance of protecting our coastal resources so that they can be preserved in the future so that their kids and grandkids can enjoy them,” Olsen said.