With so many incredible women living in the tropics, often going unnoticed on their little islands by the rest of the world, I wanted to take the opportunity to share their stories here. This series, Women Who Rock Their Rock, features island women in all their glory, inspiring others with the work they do and how they’re making a difference on their islands.

If you missed some of the first posts in this series, be sure to check them out here, here, and here.

The woman featured in this addition to the series is working hard to educate the next generation about sharks, their importance in our ecosystem, and marine conservation.

 

MEET JILLIAN MORRIS

ISLAND: Bimini, Bahamas

ORGANIZATION: Sharks4Kids

NOMINATED BY: Me (Chrissann Nickel)

 

I met Jillian through this website when she reached out years ago to become a contributor. Not only have I enjoyed the stories she’s shared here, but I’ve been so blown away by all she’s accomplished in such a short amount of time. Following her on social media is inspiring and gives me all sorts of warm fuzzies for people like her who don’t just say they want to make a difference in the world, but actually put in the hard work to effect change.

Jillian is a SCUBA instructor, marine educator, and shark conservationist. While she is based in Bimini, she spends a lot of time island hopping around the world with her organization, Sharks4Kids. Jillian founded Sharks4Kids in 2012 because:

 

Sharks play a critical role in the delicate balance of ocean ecosystems. Yet despite their importance, shark populations are being decimated globally. The rapid decline in populations teamed with the man-eating monster stereotypes sharks have garnered over the years, have left sharks fighting for their survival.

The goal of Sharks4Kids is to create a new generation of shark advocates through access to a dynamic range of educational materials. Curriculum, games and activities will allow teachers to integrate shark education into their science programs on an introductory, intermediate or advanced level. Students can access games, activities and info sheets to satisfy their own curiosity about sharks. Photos and videos from scientists and conservationists bring an exciting element into the classroom and show students the beauty of the ocean.​

Our team brings together scientists, educators, conservationists and professional videographers to create a unique opportunity for the next generation to learn why sharks need kids and kids need sharks.

Creating the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure.

 

Sharks4Kids shark education children Bahamas Bimini marine conservation Jillian Morris Brake

*photo by Sophie Hart

 

In a short amount of time, Jillian has grown the organization to include classroom visits, Skype lessons, Google Hangouts, and even a children’s book, Norman the Nurse Shark. Sharks4Kids has so far connected with over 60,000 students in 44 countries and 48 states in the US. 

 

Jillian Morris Brake shark educator women in sharks Sharks4Kids

 

Jillian is passionate about creating the next generation of shark advocates. She especially hopes to encourage both young girls and women to engage with sharks and marine science, making room for them to explore what has long been a male-dominated shark-y world.

 

Jillian Morris Brake SCUBA Sharsk4Kids shark education Bimini Bahamas women who rock their rock

 

Through her stunning photography and shark documentaries – featured everywhere from National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, and more – Jillian both educates and inspires others to speak up and make a difference. The spellbinding images she shares of herself diving peacefully alongside massive, otherworldly sharks go beyond Instagram likes. One picture at a time, Jillian is helping to dispel Hollywood’s feared, monsters of the deep representation of sharks, showcasing them as the beautiful, ethereal creatures  they truly are who deserve our utmost respect and awe.

 

Jillian Morris Brake shark diving Sharks4Kids education Bimini Bahamas

*photo by Jason Washington

 

— — —

 

If you’d like to connect further with Jillian, you can follow her on her Facebook page or on Instagram or on Sharks4Kids. She’s also a contributor to this site; you can read her posts here.

Do you know of an amazing woman on your island who deserves recognition for the difference she’s making on her rock? Send us an email and nominate her for a chance to have her featured in this series.

Written By:

Chrissann Nickel

Current Rock of Residence:

Virgin Gorda, BVI

Island Girl Since:

2006

Originally Hails From:

California

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the tropics, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps but these days, any activities that require a bra and shoes go under careful, is-this-even-worth-it consideration. If island life has taught her anything at all, it’s that few things are more rewarding than time spent in the pool with a cocktail in hand.

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends her days working from home with her blue-eyed sidekick, Island Dog Diego, writing, editing, and cultivating content in the hopes of bringing some laughter and lightness to her fellow island souls. She recently published her first children’s book, When You’re a Baby Who Lives on a Rock, and is pretty pumped to share it with all of the island mamas out there. Her days off are typically spent boating, hiking, and meeting up with the neighborhood’s imperious roadside goats, who she shamelessly bribes into friendship. While normalcy was never listed as one of her special skills, Caribbean life may indeed be responsible for new levels of madness. She attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people.

If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous website or follow her daily escapades on Instagram @womanonarock.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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