San Clemente Resident Jim Schmitt Named Ocean Institute’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year

Press Release

Dana Point, CA – The Ocean Institute is pleased to announce that Jim Schmitt of San Clemente has been selected as its 2015 Volunteer of the Year. Jim has been a volunteer since 1997, and has devoted more than 5,500 hours to the Institute. He has volunteered at the gift shop, for weekend public programs, the information booth and many other roles.

Director of Volunteers Linda Blanchard remarked, “Jim is the quintessential ‘Johnny on the Spot.’ Before someone can ask ‘what is this place?’ or ‘where do I check in?’ Jim has anticipated the question, and provided that person with the answer or found someone else to help.”

Jim, an 18-year San Clemente resident, said, “I enjoy meeting and greeting new people. I’m happy to be a volunteer.”

“Jim’s outgoing personality has made him a perfect addition to our teams that interact with our guests,” continued Linda. “Jim loves people, and even more, the opportunity to enthusiastically educate them about the ocean and the Ocean Institute.”

He grew up in Pennsylvania (“Where we had no oceans,” he noted). The 85-year-old is a retired attorney, public defender and judge. He has also been an active volunteer at his church, St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Dana Point, and has volunteered for many other community organizations, including at Crystal Cove.

Jim and wife Diane were new to the area when they first discovered the Institute. They enjoyed the beach and supported the Institute’s mission of encouraging the public to be good stewards of the ocean, so they decided to volunteer. He remarked, “I’m embarrassed to say that when I was younger and you’d change the oil in your car, you’d dump the old oil down the sewer. We all did it. You never thought about how you were polluting and ruining our oceans.”

He continued, “I love being a part of an organization that teaches children the harm such behaviors do. It’s wonderful to see people leaving here with a greater understanding and appreciation of our oceans.”

Jim and wife Diane were named the Ocean Institute’s Volunteers of the Year in 2005. Diane, his wife of 58 years, died in 2012. He recalled, “She was a wonderful lady, and was the one who often got me involved in things like the Ocean Institute. While I very much appreciate and am happy to be named Volunteer of the Year, I feel like the honor more appropriately belongs to her.”


The Ocean Institute is an ocean education center that offers in-depth Marine Science, Maritime History and Outdoor Education programs. The facility includes state-of-the-art teaching labs, the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, two historic tallships, and an oceanographic research vessel. Immersion-based field trips range from one-hour science labs to multi-day programs at sea. All programs are designed to maximize immersion, spark curiosity, and inspire a deep commitment to learning. Ocean-based exhibits are open to the public seven days a week. Visitors can explore the underwater world while participating in fun activities designed to indulge ocean curiosity. Throughout the year, the Ocean Institute also offers organized family programs, summer camps, cruises, tallship sails, and other unique events including our annual Toshiba Tall Ships Festival and the Festival of Whales.

Address: 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point, CA 92629
Website: www.ocean-institute.org
Phone: (949) 496-2274

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