More than 2,000 years ago the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said, “Change is the only constant.” A little more than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin put his own spin on that concept saying, “When you are finished changing, you are finished.”
We have always lived by this philosophy at the Guy Harvey organization. We’re constantly evolving, updating and changing directions to stay on the leading edge. More than two decades ago, we were one of the first entities to embrace “cause marketing” by putting our marine research and conservation efforts on equal footing with our for-profit goals. We focused on protecting our oceans, and financial success followed. These days, it’s hard to find a business that doesn’t have some sort of sustainability initiative. If companies don’t have a conservation cause, they are, as Ben Franklin aptly said, finished.
Many of our pursuits may seem the same, such as creating and selling art, apparel and other GH-branded items. We continue to be focused on marine scientific research and using the data we collect to influence responsible fishing regulations. However, all of those projects have branched out in various directions. For example, Dr. Mahmood Shivji, who directs the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University, is now collaborating with the Charles Darwin Institute in research on scalloped hammerhead and silky sharks in the Galapagos.
In the past year, a major change was closing our warehouse and opening up a beautiful Guy Harvey retail store on the popular shopping corridor of Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. We shifted gears from an industrial park to a highly visible storefront. Our grand opening was in February, and so far, business has been brisk. The store offers Guy Harvey-branded products: original art, prints, apparel — basically everything in the GH lineup all in one store. We’re already looking to expand in other locations.
The other massive change we’ve taken on within the last two years is providing marine science and conservation education to K-12 students and teachers — all for free. As you might imagine, building an exciting and relevant education platform is a monumental undertaking. Fortunately, our capable staff mobilized around this initiative, and we’ve added a number of extremely talented individuals who are subject-matter experts in the education space.
Our CEO, Steven Roden, comes from an education background and knows the pathway to mass distribution and acceptance. Valerie Gaynor, who was a teacher and science supervisor for many years, has been leading the charge in curriculum development along with Cathy Christopher of Ocean First Education. They’ve also been training teachers to spread the good word. I also taught Valerie how to fish about 10 years ago, so she was a perfect candidate. More recently, we added Betty Bergnes, another former high-energy educator, as our new director of education. Betty, Valerie, Cathy and the GHOF team are training teachers to be Guy Harvey marine science disciples and take the message to districts across the country and, eventually, globally.
Teachers, most of whom are overworked and underpaid, are the front-line workers for our children’s future. Their value cannot be overstated, which is why the GHOF is excited about giving them outstanding curricula to work with at no cost and training them in amazing aquatic locations. We even pay the teachers to get trained! If there ever was a group of people who appreciate extra money and free tools for their job, it’s teachers. They are a joy to work with and have been incredibly grateful.
Another change for us has been ramping up the GHOF’s fundraising and outreach efforts. We were joined in late 2021 by Patxi Pastor, a longtime expert in nonprofits and a first cousin to the Energizer Bunny because he never seems to stop working hard for the cause. Patxi has assembled an amazing team — Matt Raine, Amanda Martin and Tanaka Mutiti Adams — who are focused on globally expanding our conservation and education message.
The loyal following that I’ve been able to build through my art, apparel and conservation work has been extremely gratifying. Transitioning from a college professor to a full-time artist was a major and positive change for me personally. It offered me the opportunity to pursue my passion, even though I still love teaching. Over the past four decades, both my organization and my family have grown. My son Alex and my daughter Jessica are now young adults, and I even have two grandchildren now!
I’m so pleased that Alex and Jess have been able to become an integral part of the GH organization. This represents the most significant change of all. Now, Alex is helping to guide the for-profit side of the company while Jess was recently announced as the co-chairperson of the GHOF, our nonprofit arm. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in nearly 40 years. I’m also extremely excited to know that I’m able to pass the torch to the next generation of young, dedicated marine conservationists.
Yes, we are embracing change and all that it brings. I’m confident that our evolution will continue for many years and generations into the future.
Fair winds and tight lines,
GUY HARVEY, PhD
is an internationally acclaimed artist, fisherman, scientist and world traveler who devotes much of his time and money toward ocean conservation.