We’re thrilled to announce our most recent round of Youth Ocean Conservation Summit mini-grants! A key component of our Youth Ocean Conservation Summit program, these grants support the innovative, solutions-oriented conservation projects planned by Summit participants as they work to tackle diverse marine conservation challenges in their local communities. We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Johnson Ohana Foundation, The Captain Planet Foundation, Klean Kanteen, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, PopSockets, and all who participated in and donated to our 2019 annual silent auction fundraiser for your support to fund this year’s grantees.
Take a moment to learn about this year’s recipients and follow us on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about their work throughout the year.
Aiden Henson created Nautical Nerds Productions to use digital media to highlight environmental threats, inspiring conservation action in teens and young people. Focusing on sustainability and managing natural resources, Nautical Nerds Productions publishes PSA videos that draw attention to Earth's fragile ecology by exhibiting the negative effects of global pollution, biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, unsustainable agriculture, and extreme climate change. Nautical Nerds Productions aims to present the impacts and consequences of these dangers on people, businesses and our future.
Alex Henson’s Project L.E.A.D. works to promote Local Environmental Activist Development; today's children are tomorrow's heroes, and I strive to enlighten our future leaders to take a stand to protect our beautiful blue planet. With Earth's fragile ecosystems in peril, knowledge is essential to the protection of coastal habits and aquatic resources, and by providing a platform, Project L.E.A.D. enables me with a voice to broaden youth conservation awareness. Through Project L.E.A.D., the aim is to educate local youth about conservation needs and awareness, implement beach and community cleanups, provide seminars and infographic programs for conservational understanding, influence, and interest, and provide networking opportunities for developing leaders.
Anya Gupta created Pennies for Penguins, a project to help get penguins off the endangered species list. Anya love penguins and wants to help save them. She recognizes that if we reduce climate change, support penguin habitats, and reduce plastic waste in the oceans, we can help save the penguins. Through her penguin adoption program #AdoptAPenguin and #TheSippyCupRevolution she works to educate, raise awareness, and find solutions to help the penguins. Learn more at www.penniesforpenguins.com.
Audrey Berlie created Mangroves Matter to raise awareness of the critical role one specific plant plays in Florida’s ecosystems. Through interactive and artistic displays, Audrey is hoping to educate the public on the benefits and the unfortunate destruction of mangrove forests. Additionally, she will also be working to involve the community in mangrove restoration to assist in directly influencing environmental change.
The Brevard Zoo Conservation Leaders will plan their annual Youth Environmental Summit. The mission of this program is built on the idea that the youth are the future of our planet; without the youth having a wide scope of knowledge and appreciation for the environment, they might not have nature to explore in the near future. Ultimately, the Conservation Leaders team is on its tenth year creating the Youth Environmental Summit and they strive to provide a safe and fun day for the youth of their community to get hands on experience working with local conservationists and other youth along with learning important information about how to improve and save our planet.
Caleb Jameson is the founder and creator of the Turtle Safe Toy Box that helps to keep plastic toys from ending up in the ocean and becoming a danger for marine life. The Turtle Safe Toy Box acts as a borrow box on the beach where families are not only encouraged to borrow a toy if they need one, but to always put toys in the toy box rather than leaving them on the beach. Caleb is also a volunteer with Longboat Key Turtle Watch and Mote Marine Laboratory, as well as a trained stranding responder with Mote Marine Laboratory's Stranding Investigations Program.
Cash Daniels is focusing his project on working to reduce trash and litter around his local rivers in Chattanooga, TN as 80% of ocean trash starts in land. The river he lives closest to, the Tennessee River, is the most polluted with microplastics in the world. Cash is meeting with local city officials and community members to encourage community action to prevent plastic pollution.
Claire Haiber’s Revolution Ocean project will focus on designing and creating biodegradable wooden stickers with environmental designs. All of the profits of these stickers will go to charities, especially those focused on habitat restoration. She is kicking off the project by launching an Instagram account to feature ocean activism focused artwork.
Demetri and Ethan Sedita created Green Gasparilla to combat the harmful effects of plastic debris and beads that enter the waterways of Tampa, FL during Gasparilla, an annual mock pirate invasion and festival. They work to accomplish this goal through community education and outreach, diver cleanups to directly remove the beads from local waterways, and by collaborating with city officials to help prevent plastic pollution from the festival.
Emma Kavanaugh and the St. Thomas Aquinas Surfrider Youth Club are working to reduce our school's use of plastic items. They are purchasing reusable water bottles and coffee cups with their YOCS grant funds to sell at our school for one month to discourage staff and students from using single-use plastic.
Joey Goldstein launched Saving Ocean Life (SOL) when she was 10 years old. The organization’s mission is to prevent ocean pollution through beach clean ups and educational programs. SOL plans events several times per year, and collaborates with local environmental groups to host turtle talks; shark tagging excursions, and coral reef presentations. This year Joey is planning to host a pancake breakfast and beach cleanup fundraiser. While many event plans have shifted due to COVID-19, she is utilizing this opportunity to build upcoming event plans and maintain relationships with past program participants.
Lauren Pellegrino created Saving Oceans Through Actions Students a homeschool marine biology club. The project’s mission is to preserve our oceans through education, action and conservation. Club members achieve this through monthly beach clean ups and student led meetings. The program is currently located at two schools with plans to engage two more schools this year.
Marley Hoffman’s Small Changes, BIG Impact project has been shaped throughout her entire life. Growing up visiting the Jersey shore has shown her how beautiful our oceans truly are, however over the years most of the beaches are now cluttered with trash. Being SCUBA certified Marley has also been blessed to see the ocean from another view, but this too showed her how much trash was being dumped into our oceans. From volunteering with Clean Ocean Action and ReClam the Bay Marley has gained deeper knowledge about the ocean and how single-use plastics are having a negative impact. When she started her Girl Scout Gold Award there was no doubt in her mind that she wanted to choose a topic relating to our oceans. Single-Use plastics have been a major topic around the world and on the news, and she knew she wanted to have a direct impact on her community rethinking single-use plastics. The first steps of Marley’s project included founding an Ocean Conservation Club at Union Township School, and North Hunterdon High School. Through these two clubs, she has been able to educate the voices of tomorrow, on how even small changes can have a BIG Impact. The second initiative she started is with businesses and restaurants, with hopes that by educating owners on the negative impacts of single-use plastics they too can educate the public.
Maxwell DeBrino’s Trout in the Classroom project will focus on engaging high school students in restoring the Brook Trout population in local streams of Long Island, NY by raising Brook Trout in the classroom, with support from Trout Unlimited, and reintroducing them into the local waterways. Students will create an educational video documenting the project to educate their community on actions they can take to conserve these important species.
Participants in Mote Marine Laboratory’s Homeschool Advanced program will collaborate to lead a diverse set of educational community outreach initiatives focused on topics ranging from shark and sea turtle conservation to plastic pollution prevention and reef safe sunscreen education.
Paige Essue and the Free Our Seas Youth Council will launch the Fast Fashion and Mass Consumerism Awareness Initiative to educate their community on the effects that their clothes have on the environment and on workers in developing countries. As part of their work, Council members will organize a screening of the film The True Cost along side a community clothing swap event to encourage reusing clothing items.
Sadie Chawkins’ Stop Toxic Ocean Pollution project is dedicated to educating community members on the everlasting affects that plastics and carbon emissions have on our environment. Some ways in which she accomplishes this are by organizing beach cleanups, speaking with local and federal government officials, working with restaurants to reduce both their plastic and carbon footprints, and organizing global climate strikes.
In an effort to reduce the amount of single-use plastics on campus, Sarasota Military Academy students are using the YOCS grant to install a water bottle refill station on their high school campus. Once installed, students will track the number of single-use water bottles saved through the use of the refill station and create educational campaigns designed to raise awareness for students to reduce their use of plastics.
South Broward High School’s C.O.R.A.L. Club and UFI along with 1000 Mermaids are growing and nurturing baby corals in tanks which are located in South Broward High School. Club members would meet once a week to check on the corals and water quality of the surrounding areas. Once the corals have grown to an appropriate size, club members plan to out-plant them into an artificial reef in hopes of restoring the exponential decline of coral reefs in Florida.
The Teen Aquarium Advisory Group (TAAG), is a group of teenagers varying in ages, that have come together to help plan, organize, and make a new aquarium. The aquarium is being built under the Brevard Zoo. The TAAG works to educate people about why an aquarium in the local region is so Important and why the community should help us make it happen, either by donations or even just spreading the word to other people.