Guest Post by: Leslie Smith, NC YOCS Director
North Carolina State University's Science House at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST) hosted the 3rd annual North Carolina Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (NC YOCS) on Saturday, February 24! Since the day before, February 23, was National Skip the Straw day, Skip The Straw was the theme for the 2018 NC YOCS! 70 students from across the state of North Carolina gathered in Beaufort, North Carolina at the Duke University Marine Lab to skip the straw with STRAWS filmmaker, Linda Booker, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Following Linda's presentation, NC YOCS participants viewed the short documentary, STRAWS, and had the unique opportunity to ask Linda questions about the film and how she became interested in plastic pollution. Linda spoke with many passionate students wanting to take action against straws and single-use plastics in their communities.
Guest Post by: Mandy Castro, Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Intern
The University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant held its fourth annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on January 27th, 2018 on Skidaway Island in Savannah, GA. Thirty eight students between the ages of 11 and 17 joined together to hear from our keynote speaker, participate in skill-building workshops, and create action plans to take on conservation projects for their local communities.
Amanda Wrona Meadows and LA Allen from The Nature Conservancy set a precedent about collaboration and communication when it comes to environmental conservation. From there, participants expanded their conservation repertoire through skill building workshops held by Kelly Patton from One Hundred Miles, Maia McGuire from Florida Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension, Jason Bedgood from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership at the University of Georgia, and our very own Anne Lindsay, representing UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Dr. McGuire informed and inspired with her keynote speech about microplastics. Additionally, the students were exposed to a variety of marine conservation careers by panelists Julia Diaz, an assistant professor, Mandi Moroz, a law clerk, Mike Robinson, a research professional, and Lisa D. Watson, an up-cycle artist.
The culmination of the summit’s events was the poster session that not only provided the students the opportunities to showcase their action plans but, more importantly, converse in greater detail on conservation with their peers and mentors. The YOCS Organizing Team at University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant look forward to seeing what the participants of the Summit do next as they continue making waves in conservation!
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 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 22 mini-grant recipients. These young leaders are driving community change to protect our blue planet and we are looking forward to seeing the impact they’ll make in the year ahead.
We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Klean Kanteen, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the Fishes Wishes, and all who participated in our 2017 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 and three Guy Harvey Fisheries Grants, in partnership with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, to YOCS participants leading projects to enhance marine habitats and fisheries. Thank you for your commitment to empowering the next generation of ocean conservationists!
Take a moment to learn about this year’s recipients…
Alexandria Henson’s “Project L.E.A.D." promoting Local Environmental Activist Development will provide a platform for young leaders in southwest Florida to take action around critical environmental issues, and give them firsthand experience leading mangrove restoration projects and community cleanups.
Molly Newlin and the Brevard Zoo Teen volunteers will host their annual Youth Environmental Summit designed to educate, engage and inspire young people ages 12-18 to take action to protect their local environment.
Danielle Daly will work to engage her peers in the EarthEcho Water Challenge, providing tools and resources for young people to test and analyze water quality to better understand the health of local marine environments.
Joey Goldstein’s Saving Ocean Life (SOL) organization will focus on continuing to grow their efforts to engage local youth in taking action to protect the ocean by leading regular coastal cleanups and educational activities including turtle talks, shark tagging excursions, and coral reef presentations.
Jacquelyn Noval and the C.O.R.A.L. Club will grow aquaculture coral in fish tanks to use as educational material for events and schools visits designed to educate the community on the depleting coral reef populations and ways the public can take action to protect coral reefs. The group’s long-term goal is to build and maintain an offshore artificial reef, as they already hold a permit to a plot of sea floor off Dania Beach, FL.
Emma Gould’s Blue Future Beach Cleanups initiative will rally local community members, along the coast of Maine, to clean up their coastline and educate the public on preventing plastic pollution.
Nicole Kappaz and the Newsome High School Surfider club will launch “Undoing the Damage Begins with U”, an initiative that will mobilize local high school students to carry out regular beach cleanups and educational campaigns on marine debris. The team will collect data on the trash collected to help gauge the impact of their educational outreach efforts.
Caleb Jameson will launch his Turtle Friendly Toy Box project to help beach guests clean up abandoned plastic toys, provide a place for other kids to use these recycled toys, and educate beachgoers on the importance of preventing plastic pollution.
Ana Brown and the National Aquarium’s Aquarium on Wheels Program will lead the 2018 Baltimore Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, working to provide young people, in the city of Baltimore and surrounding areas, with the tools and knowledge needed to take action to protect marine ecosystems.
Derek Petrisko will continue to build on his “No Mangrove=No Man” initiative by raising and replanting thousands of red mangroves in south Florida. This year, he will be working to restore mangroves in the Florida Keys to assist with post hurricane habitat recovery.
Kimberly Correia and the Plastic Free Mermaids are collaborating with Surfider Foundation to establish an Ocean Friendly Restaurants program encouraging restaurants to go plastic free. They will also host an Environmental Art Festival in Hollywood, FL highlighting art and solutions to plastic pollution.
Liv Schmeits' Forests of Change initiative will utilize technology, through the creation of engaging, high impact educational videos, to reach young people with critical messages about marine conservation topics.
Andrea Castillo’s “Go Mangrove” Project, will engage multiple student organizations at Spanish River High School in raising mangroves on their school’s campus and ultimately in planting these mangroves to restore local marine habitats.
Students in Mote Marine Laboratory’s Homeschool Advanced Program will receive funding for nine projects focused on topics including plastic pollution issues and encouraging people to live a plastic free lifestyle, educating tourists about protecting local marine environments, raising awareness about sustainable seafood, ways to address cigarette butt litter, and protecting endangered marine species.
Stay tuned for updates on the work of our grantees as they take action to protect our blue planet!