Empowering the Next Generation of Marine Innovation: Kat Mataya’s Impact at COVE

Empowering the Next Generation of Marine Innovation: Kat Mataya’s Impact at COVE

With a background in environmental science and a passion for education, Kat Mataya is at the forefront of educating the next generation of innovators in her role as the Manager of Workforce Development at COVE.


Kat’s journey in the marine technology sector began with a Bachelor of Science from Queens University, where she developed a strong foundation for marine science. Her passion for environmental conservation and sustainability led her to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Assessment from Niagara College, further enhancing her expertise in the field. Kat first discovered her love for education while working in South America, where she conducted research and taught communities about the region’s flora and fauna. During her time working at a butterfly garden, she quickly recognized the profound impact of outdoor education and how storytelling can be a powerful tool to educate, inspire, and connect people from around the world. With the unique beauty of the natural environment, Kat continues to share her passion with others and is committed to educating others about the importance of the ocean and marine ecosystems.

After years of travelling and exploring, Kat found herself drawn to the East Coast, eventually settling in Halifax. In June 2022, she joined the team at COVE, where she has applied her experiences working with youth to support COVE’s workforce development initiatives. Her role as Manager of Workforce Development has allowed her to merge her love for education and her expertise in marine science, making a meaningful impact on the future of marine technology.

“As someone with a passion for science and education, leading workforce initiatives at COVE allows me to combine my knowledge and skills to introduce youth, and working professionals who influence youth, to the endless possibilities of a career in the marine sector,” said Mataya. “Some may think that only marine biologists and engineers have a place in the marine sector. However, it takes various types of skill sets with expertise in business management, marketing, finance, environmental science, computer science, skilled trades, and more to help drive efficiency and innovation in the sector. I hope the programs I lead at COVE inspire youth to think about their future, what marine environments mean to them, what solutions they can be a part of, and that there are endless possibilities, for workers of varying backgrounds, to have a future career within the marine sector.”

At COVE, Kat leads education programs and workforce initiatives that make marine technology better understood to all ages, from primary to high school and beyond. Her work involves developing pathways for underrepresented groups to enter the marine sector while engaging with stakeholders and promoting the importance of STEM careers to young women and indigenous and African Nova Scotian youth. There is so much yet to be discovered about our oceans, and with all of COVE’s initiatives, Kat strives to inspire youth to be a part of the solution in future innovative ideas.

Under Kat’s leadership, the COVE Internship Program has seen incredible growth and impact. In 2023, over 530 post-secondary students across Canada applied for the program, with 23 of the best and brightest being placed with 18 partnering organizations. Kat’s professional drive for expanding opportunities in the marine sector has been instrumental in the program’s success. Currently, Kat is evaluating applications for the 2024 Internship Program, which received double the number of entries from the previous year, a true testament to the success of the program that provides valuable experience for young minds in their respective fields.

In 2023, Kat spearheaded the launch of the OffshoreWind4Kids program at COVE, a pioneering initiative in Canada led in partnership with the Belgian-based organization. The program promotes marine renewable energy education and awareness among youth, offering hands-on activities. During family beach days, youth build their own model floating wind turbines, tackle real-world challenges, and test their creations in the ocean. Throughout the school year, this program extends into classrooms across Nova Scotia, engaging students in grades four to twelve and inspiring them to consider careers in renewable energy.

Kat’s commitment to education extends beyond COVE’s Internship Program and OffshoreWind4Kids. Every year, Kat travels across Canada to host the Ocean Institute: Deep Dive into Data professional development workshop for junior high and high school teachers. The workshop equips educators with the tools to incorporate ocean data-based learning into their classrooms, inspiring students to discover ocean data exploration. No matter where you live, the ocean touches and impacts everyone around the world which creates a unique opportunity to bring people together for the greater good.

Kat’s impact at COVE extends far beyond her role as Manager of Workforce Development. Through her leadership and dedication, she has increased awareness, engagement, and opportunities in the marine sector, creating a culture that embraces exploration and innovation in marine technology. What drives and motivates Kat in her work at COVE is the opportunity to build connections, learn from other people’s experiences, and develop relationships based on a common goal of supporting sustainable marine environments. Kat’s work is not just shaping the future of marine technology education – it’s shaping the future of our ocean and the next generation of marine innovators.

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