My love for sea turtles and a willingness to dedicate large amounts of my time to their preservation has presented me with many opportunities, challenges and life lessons. I believe that one person CAN make a difference and now more than ever, I know that hard work and perseverance pays off. It is my mission to help save the world's sea turtle population and to inspire other youths to act upon their dreams.
I was originally inspired into action after a third grade field trip to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center located in Topsail Island, North Carolina. The sight of wounded and sick turtles was heartbreaking. The eventual release of those turtles who could survive again in the wild inspired me to think…what can I do to make a difference?
For five years, I have dedicated hundreds of hours to my education and awareness program, Help Them L.A.S.T. – Love A Sea Turtle. My goals have been to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the endangered sea turtles. I continue to reach out to others to let them know that our actions on land create reactions in the ocean – good and bad. My main fundraising efforts have been baking and selling turtle-shaped sugar cookies and lemonade. I inspired a Fair Trade Organic Sea Turtle Blend coffee and Joe Van Gogh donates 10% of net profits to the Sea Turtle Hospital every year. After the Gulf oil spill, I collaborated to create another charity to raise money for the rescue and rehabilitation of Gulf marine life. The Great Bake for Oceans' Sake is a coast-to-coast bake sale that encourages everyone to get involved by organizing a bake sale and donating the proceeds to an ocean conservation organization. I helped organize a Love A Sea Turtle Trail Run & Nature Walk. This is our second year and we will kick-off Earth Month.
My summer experiences (interning at the Sea Turtle Hospital and mentoring students for a marine science adventure) gave me more ideas and I got to work. My family assisted me in creating an educational DVD. I have visited local schools and have been able to spread my message to hundreds of students. I continue to reach out to students and civic groups.
Funding to provide a summer camp program that focuses on math, science and an aquatic educational experience is a priority. We will provide two one-week summer camps for selected students from the local Boys and Girls Clubs to help them understand the downstream effect of water and that they can make a difference in their own back yard. A local science and nature center has designed a camp program to include examining fresh water sources, exploring river basins, water pollution and water quality testing. The fifth day will be a marine science adventure at the coast! I felt a summer camp, focusing on water, would continue to motivate and engage their minds and creativity. My expectations are simple and straightforward – get outside, learn while having fun and inspire youth activism.
One person can make a difference!