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Aquarium Accolades Winter 2024

Read about Aquarium honorees from our community.

Underside of a purple colored sea star

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific/Robin Riggs

January 23, 2024

Aquarium Accolades Winter 2024

Two women holding award

Tina Calderon with Vice President of Marketing Cecile Fisher Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific


At the Moompetam American Indian Festival, Tina Calderon was honored with the Heritage Award. Calderon is a Tongva elder dedicated to the cultures of the Gabrielino, Tongva, Chumash, and Yoeme.

Calderon is a culture bearer, a traditional dancer, and storyteller who shares the history of her ancestors to educate others and honor her ancestors. Calderon is currently on the Tongva Language Committee, and she is a student learning the Šmuwič dialog of Chumash. Calderon also serves on the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for the Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe’s Education and Cultural Learning Department.

Calderon is also a singer who uses creative writing, poetry, and songs to tell her stories. She has over a dozen songs in her ancestral languages of Tongvé and Chumash. Calderon hopes to educate and inspire others to respect the environment just as her ancestors have done.

“Our language holds and ties us to our place.” — Tina Calderon

Two women holding award

Executive Director of FASGI Yey Coronel with Aquarium Board Member Sam Limon Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

Southeast Asia Day

Filipino American Service Group, Inc was honored with the Heritage Award at Southeast Asia Day. Executive Director Yey Coronel accepted the award.

The Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI) supports the Los Angeles Filipino American community. Originally founded to serve Los Angeles Filipino American veterans of World War II, FASGI focused on the socio-economic development of the community. Over the years FASGI expanded its scope to include the greater Los Angeles area, and in May 2016 FASGI began to focus on the unmet needs of all Filipino Americans.

FASGI offers mental health services, naturalization application assistance, health and wellness, disaster and emergency preparedness, legal referrals, and more. With a motto of, “Happy to help, honored to serve!”, FASGI is dedicated to improving the lives of the Filipino American community.

“To be recognized by the Aquarium of the Pacific for this and to be given this award is such a big honor.” — Yey Coronel

Man and woman holding award

Vice President of Development Ryan Ashton with June Miyamoto Donovan, president of the club Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

Autumn Festival

The Aquarium presented the Heritage Award to the Terminal Islanders Club at the Autumn Festival. June Miyamoto Donovan, the president of the club, accepted the award.

The Terminal Islanders are a group of Japanese Americans that lived on Terminal Island at the mouth of the Los Angeles Harbor. This fishing community was started in the mid-1890s with fifteen Japanese men, who worked on the railroad, beginning to dive for abalone.

By 1915 nearly 3,000 Terminal Islanders were enjoying this community at its height. In the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the leaders of this community were arrested. By 1942 the Terminal Islanders rallied to stick with each other by voluntarily going to the Manzanar internment camp near Lone Pine, California. After the war, most of the families returned to the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor area to find that their community was bulldozed. But as the families began to settle they maintained a commitment to keep their history and connections alive and a memorial was built in 2002.

The next generation of Terminal Islanders continue educate others on the history and legacy of this important community. Three of the original Terminal Islanders were in the audience at the award presentation: Higeko Yamamoto, Alice Nagano, and Hiroko Nogawa.

“We’re keeping the legacy going so that you guys don’t forget because it was a very happy place for everybody.” — June Miyamoto Donovan