We are thrilled to announce the 2021-2022 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit mini-grant recipients! Building on the 2021 Summit, which united young conservation leaders from 20 countries, our mini-grant recipients are committed to tackling diverse ocean conservation challenges around the world through innovative, solutions-oriented approaches. We are honored to support their work by providing funding and support for their conservation project plans. A special thanks to our incredible partners at the Johnson Ohana Foundation, PopSockets, Klean Kanteen, and EarthEcho International, as well as our individual donors, for their generous support to make this year’s mini-grant program possible. Read on to learn more about this year’s grantees!
Artash Nath’s Monitor My Ocean WebApp will demonstrate a quantitative model to monitor annual changes in anthropogenic ocean noise levels and provide a model to help demonstrate how ambient noise levels, in global oceans, decreased when COVID-19 related restrictions were in place. His research will help mitigate the adverse impacts of economic exploitation of oceans and climate change on marine biodiversity.
Blakeslee Krusen, and the students at Palm Beach Day Academy, plan to launch a Tarpon Cove Water Quality project. To implement their project, they will test the quality of the water around Tarpon Cove, a restoration project area in the Lake Worth Lagoon. They will carry out their testing before and after mangroves are planted and artificial reefs are placed in the surrounding waters. Together, they will be monitoring and documenting water quality for 10 months, and hope that this restoration work will be impactful. They will also be studying biodiversity as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Their team will be working with MANG, No Shoes Reef, Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management, and the Reefball Foundation to accomplish this mission.
Bobby McGee Lee from La Trinidad, Philippines plans to launch the Indigenous Lake Conservation Project by investing in youth to become conservation advocates for water systems and sources. The project will engage and immerse local youth in a storytelling/book club series on the lakes in Kabayan, with a focus on highlighting the roles of these lakes among the indigenous communities in order for the area youth to fully understand their importance to these communities, and the ripple effects if these water systems are not taken care of. The sessions will be designed to draw the attention and creativity of youth, aligning with the indigenous knowledge, systems and practices, in order to come up with sustainable solutions to address these water areas. Once educated on the issue, youth will have an opportunity to advocate for these water areas and will be encouraged to come up with plans to take action to protect these vital ecosystems.
The Eco-Schools MV Project will unite sixth and seventh-grade students, from Massachusetts, who are focused on helping schools across our country reduce the amount of plastic waste they dispose of each year. By 2025, their goal is to have helped three schools become more eco-conscious. They plan to give educational presentations to local administrators, politicians, and students and are planning to help educate citizens on the effects of climate change and pollution.
Folasade and Demilade Obaitan are teaming up to launch a marine science club in their home Kingdom of Ososo, in Edo State Nigeria. Through this platform, they plan to share their passion and help inspire local youth to engage in ocean conservation efforts through film screenings, digital classes and webinars, cleanups, and a field trip to the healthy waters of River Niger / River Benue Confluence.
Hannah Mathenge plans to work to engage local communities in Kenya in learning about the challenges of plastic pollution, climate change, and overfishing while directly engaging in the cleanup of ocean plastic and the restoration of key marine habitats in the region. She hopes to advocate for the creation of jobs for youth to sustain this restoration work in the future.
The Plastic Free Mermaids mission is to spread awareness about plastic pollution through education, outreach, art, and political advocacy. Based at a local high school in South Florida, members treasure the beauty of their local beaches and waterways. They believe that the best way to combat the plastic pollution crisis is by individual actions and inspiring those around you. With support from this grant, the Plastic Free Mermaids plan to host and attend community service events and interact with local government officials to advocate for policies that reduce single use plastics.
Iesha Baldwin, plans to lead an environmental and scientific exploration project in her hometown of Dublin, Georgia for a group of K-12 students. Her goal is for students to deepen their understanding of the relationship between the Oconee River and the Atlantic Ocean while gaining basic water analysis skills. In addition to YOCS, the project is also supported by, Let's Be Bigger, The Bloom, and ZaZa's Kitchen.
Jacinta Ukaegbu, from Nigeria, is leading the SPC Ocean Conservation Project – a program designed for secondary school students with the aim of educating them on environmental issues and mobilizing them to become involved in salvaging our future through advocacy and civic engagement.
Youth Ocean Advocates for Hudson Canyon, at the New York Aquarium, plan to organize events for World Ocean Day, with a focus on Hudson Canyon, to inspire people to take conservation action. To achieve their goals, the youth will be creating activity stations, both in the aquarium, and on the boardwalk in Coney Island. The stations, plastic pollution, endangered and keystone species, include games for kids and informational aspects for wildlife enthusiasts. CAN you help the Hudson? Yes, you CANyon!
Kayla Fowler and Summer Smentek are completing a children's book about ocean conservation (titled Emma & Wellie) which focuses on the effects of plastic pollution on marine life in an informative and engaging way. Kayla and Summer are passionate about conservation and education and hope that the book, along with the resources they are creating to go with it, will inspire young kids and their families to step up as environmental stewards. They are excited about sharing the book this coming summer!
Through her project, “Indigenous Waterway Understanding: Healing Together” Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer plans to lead an educational series to share indigenous conservation methods needed to help restore ecological balance in watershed areas to improve water quality and ecosystem health. This series plans on providing access to Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members through a variety of unique learning opportunities.
The Nauticus Youth Action Council actively works to better their community through environmental stewardship and education. Over the course of 2022 they are planning to hold at least 3 community cleanups at which they will coordinate the cleanup of the Nauticus campus and surrounding green spaces and waterways. YAC volunteers will also develop and present ocean conservation themed programming for Nauticus guests. Finally, they continue to share their love for the marine environment by participating in the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit.
Through his Creatures to Classroom project, Michael Ladd plans to connect elementary school students in Massachusetts with local marine organisms. This innovative project involves bringing live, local plants and animals, from five coastal habitats into elementary classrooms. Student presenters will work with a marine ecologist and science teacher to develop and deliver lessons that meet the learning goals of the age group while providing a fun, empathy-building experience.
Morel Marly Mensah, from Benin Republic, plans to lead the “Clean Up” project, which will strive to eliminate plastic bags from a local school, increase recycling. They are also planning to lead clean up efforts to manage waste on their local beaches.
Neville Agesa, from Kenya, plans to lead the Sea Turtle Sensitization Programme. This project is the continuation of a Sea Turtle Monitoring Program off the South Coast of Kenya. The Msambweni Turtle Watch Program’s objectives are to implement best nest management plans, minimize nest predation, and build a Sea Turtle Learning Community to support conservation of Kenya’s sea turtles.
Olive Barkley's Wonders of Whaling Project,plans to engage local students, in Massachusetts, in learning about the history of whaling and the critical importance of protecting whales through fun, educational activities. Participants will also be engaged in “adopting” a local section of coastline to help eliminate marine debris that could impact marine mammals.
Ryan Moralevitz plans to use the YOCS grant funds to inspire other young ocean conservationists by hosting a reading of his books, InspirOcean and Puffy the Pufferfish Saves the Ocean, for kids at the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. Building on his previous work raising funds for the Cancer Center, through selling anglerfish driftwood ornaments, Ryan plans to share copies of his books, and plush Puffy the Pufferfish stuffed animal, to bring love and awareness of the ocean to this incredible community of children.
Steve Misati plans to lead a Mangrove Reforestation project in Kenya, addressing the challenges of mangrove loss along the coastline of the Indian Ocean. Through this project, Steve plans to engage the local community in restoring mangrove habitats in Mombasa while educating them on the importance of mangrove and ocean conservation.
Sienna Lang plans to launch her elementary school’s first ever environmental club. The club will focus on teaching students about pollution, ocean health, biodiversity, climate change and much more. Participants will also be invited to participate in Sienna’s initiative, Less Plastic Fantastic, which is a neighborhood trash clean-up project. Lastly, the club will be writing letters to the President in support of protecting 30% of our land and ocean by 2030.