On April 20, Stevenson’s upper division held its annual day-long Symposium. The central topic this year was the environment. Hosted by the Student Council, the event featured a roster of speakers specializing in topics ranging from green living to animals to philanthropy to national security. All upper division students attended keynote speeches and breakout sessions in place of their regular classes.

Symposium is a unique experience because it is entirely student-led. Not only do student organizers pick a central topic for each year’s event and invite speakers, but they also manage the day’s logistics. Stevenson’s director of equity and inclusion Dr. Mashadi Matabane, who supervised the students’ work, explains: “Students plan and execute Symposium’s production from beginning to end. To actually make the day happen, students must engage with the School’s facilities, tech, and communications departments. In order to find and invite speakers, they have to work closely with the alumni office, faculty, staff, and parents. Students gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to make an event happen, and how to create a meaningful experience for their peers.”

This year’s Symposium included many Stevenson alums and parents as presenters:

  • Dr. Fiorenza Micheli P ‘25, ‘31 is co-director of Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions, and a marine ecologist at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University. Dr. Micheli delivered the keynote speech and spoke about the process of shaping marine communities and coastal social-ecological systems.
  • Marko S. Zaninovich ‘85, P ’19, ‘22, ‘25 is third-generation farmer in his family business: Sunview Vineyards (one of California’s largest family-owned and operated table grape operations). He discussed farming practices that combine tradition with technological advancements.
  • Dr. Melissa Garren P ’32 spoke about what it takes to advance social, financial, and ecological sustainability in the oceans.
  • Tanja Roos ‘98 spoke about “blue zones”–geographical areas home to populations with low rates of chronic disease and long lifespans–and discussed The Blue Zones Project: an initiative to help improve the lives of people in communities across the globe by teaching them about the secrets to longevity and vitality discovered in Blue Zones.
  • Morgan Quimby is a wildlife photographer who spoke about her personal research and the work of Monterey Bay Whale Watch.
  • Jenny Balmagia, a water resources scientist, talked about the Central Coast wetlands.
  • Ben Cooper ‘03, founder of the non-profit Stop Waste, discussed his passion for the environment and career path. He offered different suggestions to help people reduce the amount of waste they produce
  • Dr. Dan Fernandez spoke about techniques he uses to assess the presence of fog and how to maximize the collection of fog water.
  • Graham Hunting P ’09 talked about the significance of agricultural outreach, as well as the importance of having and enforcing agricultural laws & regulations.
  • Russell Sterten ‘06, discussed the Edible Schoolyard Project and his work at the intersection of the environment and community education.
  • Dr. Lou Zeidberg, Ph.D. is a Stevenson parent and marine biologist who spoke about his career, his passion for the California market squid (Loligo opalescens), and the management of California’s biggest fishery for Market Squids.
  • Brian Garneau, president for Carmel Lahaina Utility Services, focused on water as a historical and contemporary issue in California.
  • Dr. Matthew Janiga, Ph.D., a meteorologist for the US Naval Research Laboratory, discussed the topics of marine and tropical meteorology, as well as the practice of tornado chasing.
  • Tom Kieckhefer, who is a marine ecologist and educator, talked about blue whales, why they are “the gardeners of the ocean,” and how they help fight climate change.
  • Micah Farfour is the Special Advisor for Remote Sensing in the Evidence Lab at Amnesty International. She discussed conducting open-source investigations using satellite imagery and other data sources to do near real-time human rights monitoring in places like Myanmar, Nigeria, and North Korea.
  • Molly Tyson delivered the Symposium’s closing keynote. She spoke about what it has been like to be a mountain guide, outdoor educator, climbing ranger, and rescue specialist all over the world.