Cecilie Benjamin , 2015
Pioneer Scuba Instructor, Ocean Conservation Leader, Marine Environment Education Program Advocate. Cecilie Benjamin went to West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, as a new agricultural science graduate in February, 1972, and worked with the Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries of PNG as an agricultural extension officer for over 11 years. A diver since 1976 and FAUI instructor since 1982, the first woman in PNG to do so, she and her husband built and opened Walindi Plantation Resort in September, 1983. Work over the years now means Kimbe Bay, where Walindi is located, is now recognised worldwide by such organisations as National Geographic, award-winning underwater photographers, and eminent marine scientists for its globally significant marine biodiversity and conservation initiatives. Cecilie is Chair of the Board of Directors for Mahonia Na Dari (Guardian of the Sea) Research and Conservation Centre, PNG (2006 to present). The Centre, at Kimbe Bay, designs, disseminates and conducts marine conservation education training programs for PNG youth, annually reaching 7,000 students and 3,000 community members. The Centre developed the Marine Environment Education Program or MEEP which is the core of the organisation’s teaching ethos.