Each year, we’re proud to support the work of outstanding young conservation leaders who attend our annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit at Mote Marine Laboratory, and satellite summits across the country, by directly funding their newly planned or expanding ocean conservation initiatives through our mini-grant program.
This year, we’re excited to announce another outstanding class of Youth Ocean Conservation Summit mini-grant recipients. This funding provides critical support to young conservation leaders who are on a mission to protect our blue planet for future generations through diverse, solutions-oriented conservation initiatives.
We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Klean Kanteen, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Youth Making Ripples, Jennifer Gray, and all who participated in and donated to our 2018 annual silent auction fundraiser for your support to fund this year’s grantees. This year, in addition to our traditional grant program, we are awarding three Klean It Up mini-grant recipients, in partnership with Klean Kanteen, to young leaders addressing plastic pollution issues in their community, three Guy Harvey Fisheries Grants, in partnership with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, to YOCS participants leading projects to enhance marine habitats and fisheries and a Youth Making Ripples – Students Making an Impact through Film Grant in partnership with Youth Making Ripples to a young leader utilizing film to help communicate a conservation message. Thank you for your commitment to empowering the next generation of ocean conservationists!
Take a moment to learn about this year’s recipients…
Abigail Steinwachs’s "Don’t Be Trashy" project is designed to decrease the amount of trash entering the ocean by reducing waste left behind at local waterfront parks and beaches and increase awareness of the importance of clean oceans. To achieve this goal, doggie bag - like stations will be placed in these areas with compostable trash bags that visitors can take along with them during their visit to the beach or park. Then, they can properly dispose of their trash in this bag from the day.
Operation Oats, led by co-founders Alex Cheek and Jessie Dalheim, is focused on conserving the ever-eroding sand dunes of Florida and the animals and plants that inhabit them. By the summer they plan to expand their program to grow sea oats at home, the Brevard Zoo, Viera High School Marine Biology program, and assist with sea oat restoration initiatives.
Alex Henson’s Project L.E.A.D. endorses green thinking and mobilizes volunteers to work together towards overcoming local ecological threats. Project L.E.A.D. promotes Local Environmental Activist Development through eco-friendly networking, beautification campaigns, and coastline cleanups; L.E.A.D. teaches others about the challenges faced by our oceans, and how we can all work together to implement change. Follow Project L.E.A.D. on Instagram @project_lead_.
Byrne Markham and the team at Project TAC (Tourist Awareness Commission) are leading efforts to educate beachgoers about ecotourism! They have led outreach initiatives educating their community on responsible tourism at Mote Marine Laboratory and look forward to leading additional events throughout the year.
Sea Turtles and other marine life are impacted by discarded plastic toys left on the beach, that often get washed into water and subsequently begin to degrade and break into smaller pieces of plastic. Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteer, Caleb Jameson, designed the Turtle Safe Toy Box as a “borrow box" to help keep toys from washing into the ocean and endangering sea life. This year he plans to expand his initial pilot by installing additional Turtle Safe Toy Boxes. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/turtlesafetoybox and www.turtlesafetoybox.org.
Demetri and Ethan Sedita lead Green Gasparilla, an environmental cleanup initiative with the goal of educating the public about the harmful effects that Gasparilla Parade-related debris have on the environment. Gasparilla is an annual mock pirate invasion in Tampa, Florida that currently involves the throwing of plastic beads onto streets and into the local waterways. The project’s goal is to educate the public about why this practice needs to end, remove existing debris from local waterways, and find an alternative, biodegradable throwable to be used in the parade.
Isabella Rasner’s Ocean Devotion project will work to install beach clean-up stations on Southwest Florida beaches and beyond. The project will provide an opportunity for everyday to be a beach clean-up day.
Joey Goldstein created Saving Ocean Life (SOL) in 2015 when she was just 10 years old. SOL’s mission is to keep our beaches clean and educate the public about the issues facing our oceans and marine life through events which include a beach cleanup in addition to an educational component. This spring Joey’s events have focused on topics including fishing line recycling and manatee conservation.
As the co-founder of The Plastic Free Mermaids, Kimberly Correia spreads awareness about plastic pollution, locally and globally, through education, outreach, cleanups, and political and art advocacy. Building on a successful installation of a water bottle refill station at South Broward High School, that has reduced over 67,000 single use plastic bottles, the Plastic Free Mermaids team is planning to install an additional school water bottle refill station to broaden the impact of their efforts to reduce plastic pollution at its source and educate their student body and faculty about the importance of this issue.
Lauren Pellegrino launched the Learning and Families high school marine biology club, S.O.T.A.S. (Saving Oceans Through Action Students). S.O.T.A.S.’ mission is ocean conservation through education and action. The team participates in regular beach cleanups, Mote Marine Laboratory’s Run for the Turtles, and educational field programs, with the long term goal of having reusable bags printed and filled with ocean conservation educational materials to distribute to grocery shoppers.
After attending her first Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in 2016, Morgan Ferguson was inspired to launch her ocean conservation project 78 Blackfish. Through this initiative, Morgan works to bring awareness to the endangered Southern Resident killer whales and the importance of sustainable salmon through public outreach.
Molly Newlin and the teen leaders from Brevard Zoo will host the annual Youth Environmental Summit (YES). Through this event youth participants ages 12-18 are given the opportunity get involved with local conservation projects. Attendees have the chance to create their own environmental projects, as well as participate in exciting workshops with leading conservationists. Specifically, this grant supports the Summit’s ocean conservation initiative to provide participants with the knowledge of how to effectively recycle and reduce their plastic consumption and also supports plans for a plastic-free lunch at the event.
Nicole Kappaz and the Newsome High School Surfrider Club will continue their #UndoingthedamagebeginswithU Project focused on reducing single use plastics. This year, the team plans to install a refillable water bottle station at their school to reduce the amount of single use plastic water bottles used by their peers while educating their school community on this issue.
Building on his ongoing ocean conservation efforts, Ryan Moralevitz launched The Fishes Wishes Marine Debris Sculpture. This ocean themed sculpture was made out of single use plastic and trash collected by Ryan and his friends and family from local beaches. A local restaurant in Dunedin, FL, The Honu, has teamed up with Ryan to display his sculpture and helped contribute 10% of their business to support ocean conservation efforts during the sculpture unveil on March 30.
Sadie Chawkins created Project DIP (Drowning in Plastic) to educate her community on the everlasting impact that plastic has on marine ecosystems while working to eliminate single use plastics. She is working in her community to encourage restaurants to reduce their use of single use plastics, is organizing beach cleanups and educational outreach programs, and speaking with local government leaders about this issue. Follow Project DIP on Instagram at @projectdip_srq.
Sophia Riesen launched The Shark Mates to create a group dedicated to educating the public on the threats sharks are facing, and how we can help these misunderstood creatures survive in a world of fear. She is working to raise awareness of the importance of protecting sharks through online resources, public outreach, and educational initiatives. To learn more, join, or become part of The Shark Mates Outreach team visit: thesharkmates.weebly.com
We are also excited to share our 2018 Long Island and 2019 Savannah Youth Ocean Conservation Summit mini-grant recipients:
Snigdha Roy and Clare Dana have teamed up to create the “Make the “most-able” of compostables” Project. This initiative is focused on replacing the plastic trash bags on their schools recycling cans, with biodegradable bags to help reduce the amount of single use plastic consumed by their school. Snigdha is also launching a pilot project to create coin boxes for local businesses to encourage them to collect the 5 cents per plastic bag retailers charge consumers and donate it to local environmental conservation organizations in the region.
Vidal and Coral Macchia created the “Kids Who Care: Our Thoughts on Environmental Issues” initiative. This project will involve students from preschool through high school to create a series of posters reflecting on environmental issues impacting our oceans. The posters will be displayed and used as an educational tool and to recruit volunteers for a coastal resiliency project to restore coastal wetlands by planting over 5,000 spartina plants.
Through the Conservation of the Harmless and Helpful Horseshoe Crab project, Zariel Macchia will create an educational horseshoe crab model, and use it as a tool during educational presentations focused on teaching community members about horseshoe crabs, their importance, and how to protect them.
Billy Graham and Camden County 4-H will lead the Fishing Line Recycling Project. This initiative encourages anglers to recycle their used fishing line rather than throwing it in garbage or worse, leaving it behind in the environment. Permanent recycling stations are strategically placed in locations often used for fishing and monitored by local volunteers. Personal containers (made from used tennis ball containers) are collected and assembled by volunteers. Then passed out at local festivals and events, as a more immediate and convenient collection method. Informational flyers tell the importance of recycling the line and where to deposit your collection of used line in the permanently installed stations.
Sade Wilson’s Keep DeRenne Beautiful Project will focus on cleanups and a school recycling program. She plans to engage her science class in leading a cleanup of the neighborhood surrounding her school and to start a recycling program at the school, with each class having a recycling container to take part in the program. She also plans to team up with teachers and create educational posters to help promote the initiative.