The Beacon

Blog Tags: Activism

Nominate an Ocean Hero!

ocean hero sophi bromenshenkel

2011 Junior Ocean Hero Sophi Bromenshenkel with her snow hammerhead.

Is someone in your community doing great things for the oceans? We want to hear about them!

Nominations for our fourth annual Ocean Heroes Awards open today and we’re searching for people who work hard to make a difference and deserve to be recognized for it. Each year we choose a selection of adult and junior finalists, then let you vote to pick the winners.

What does it mean to be an Ocean Hero? The other day we took a look at previous finalists’ areas of interest, ranging from SCUBA and submarines to marine mammals and sea slugs. They work to influence lawmakers, rehabilitate animals, and reduce pollution. Every Ocean Hero is different, but they all share a passion for the world’s oceans that drives them to make a difference.

You can nominate an Ocean Hero between now and June 20th — that gives you two weeks to tell us about your friends who are working to protect the oceans. This Friday, June 8th is World Oceans Day, a good chance to look out for Heroes in your community.

We will announce the finalists on June 27th, and let you all choose our 2012 Ocean Heroes. The winners will receive a prize package that includes fantastic gifts from our corporate sponsors, Nautica and Revo.

Now’s your chance to tell us about the ocean heroes you know!


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State of the Ocean Heroes

oceanheromap

Has your state gone blue? It could — nominate an Ocean Hero!

Oceana’s 4th annual Ocean Heroes Contest kicks off June 6, which gives you one week to think about this question: “Who do I know that works hard for the oceans and deserves recognition?”

From work in activism to conservation, from education to rehabilitation, from sustainability to research, there are likely tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people who’d make good nominees. This makes it difficult for Oceana’s selection committee to narrow down so many candidates to six youth and six adult finalists.

But do you want some clues on where good nominees live? Allow me to share some statistics collected over the previous three contests (and please note… this is a pretty small sample size):

State Where Most Finalists Live: California. Nearly 1/3 of Ocean Heroes Finalists reside in the Golden State.

Coastal States That Have Never Produced a Finalist: Washington, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. This probably has more to do with the small sample size rather than a lack of Ocean Heroes in these states, so nominate the Ocean Heroes near you — it's a matter of state pride.

Landlocked States That Have Produced Finalists: Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington DC. The nearest ocean being 1000 miles away didn’t stop a shy Minnesota 8-year-old named Sophi Bromenshenkel from selling enough lemonade, hot chocolate and cookies to purchase satellite shark tags for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami. And, by the way, this land-locked shark-lover won the junior vote and became our 2011 Junior Ocean Hero!

Remember, nominations begin on June 6!


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Ocean Hero John Halas Retires

John Halas (foreground, left). Photo credit: Judy Halas/Courtesy of John Halas

The Florida ocean conservation community said farewell to one of its greatest servants this week. John Halas, who was the winner of Oceana’s first annual Ocean Heroes contest, has retired after nearly 32 years of work protecting coral reefs in Florida.

Halas, a marine biologist and manager of the Upper Region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, has been working to protect coral systems in Florida since 1981. After observing coral damage caused by careless anchoring, he took it upon himself to develop an environmentally friendly anchor and mooring buoy system that prevents damage to coral reefs and has worked to implement this anchorage system in 38 countries.

We’re sad to see John go but wish him a very happy retirement!

Stay tuned for this year’s Ocean Heroes contest, which kicks off with nominations on World Oceans Day, June 8.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Andrew Hayford

Andrew teaches kids about ocean pollution.

This is the twelfth and final in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

We’re rounding out our series on the Ocean Hero finalists today with Andrew Hayford, a high school junior who has been an ocean conservation stand-out in his hometown of York, Maine.

Andrew first got involved when he was learning to surf at age 12 and noticed trash in the water and on the beaches. He’s been working to clean up the coast of southern Maine ever since. Since 2006, he has been involved in almost 30 beach cleanups and has hosted more than 10 of his own.

In 2010, Andrew won a Planet Connect grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to educate 150 kindergarten and second grade students about ocean pollution and how they could help. He conducted an art contest with these students, which became the centerpiece of his “Keep Our Beaches Clean” campaign.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Dylan Vecchione

Dylan explores a coral reef.

This is the eleventh in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is 12-year-old Dylan Vecchione, who was nominated for his commitment to coral reef conservation.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Sophi Bromenshenkel

Sophi with a hammerhead shark confection.

This is the tenth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured junior Ocean Hero finalist is shy eight-year-old Sophi Bromenshenkel, who has been working from her hometown of Richfield, Minnesota to protect sharks.

Sophi’s interest in the oceans started on a fishing trip with her uncle in the Florida Keys four years ago. Last year, when she saw a pregnant bull shark left for dead on a beach near her uncle’s home, she decided she had to take action.

By selling lemonade and hot chocolate, shark cookies and wristbands, and through email campaigns and local fliers, Sophi has raised more than $3,500 for sharks. She has partnered with the University of Miami’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, where her funds pay for satellite tags on sharks.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Wyatt Workman

This is the ninth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is eight-year-old Wyatt Workman, who may be familiar to some of you since we have written about his activism and artwork before.

But in case you don’t know Wyatt, he is quite a special young ocean lover. A talented artist, he has dedicated himself to getting the word out about the plastic pollution fouling our oceans. Through his artistic endeavors, including a book, clay figures, and a claymation movie, “Save the Sea from the Trash Monster!”, Wyatt has raised nearly $4,000 for Oceana.

In late 2010, more than 300 people attended Wyatt’s art show, where he sold out of all 70 art pieces he made. He now has a waiting list for his art and he gets about 10-20 people a day signing his website pledge to make changes in their lives to keep trash - particularly plastic - out of the ocean.  

He was also recently honored by the Pacific Aquarium in Long Beach, CA as their Young Hero of the Year, his book has been named "Book of the Month" by A&I Books in Los Angeles, and he has been featured in Time Magazine for Kids.

Whew! Impressive for an eight-year-old, huh?

Have you voted yet? Check out the other finalists, cast your vote and spread the word! And stay tuned for more spotlighted finalists in the coming days!

Special thanks to the sponsors of the Ocean Heroes Award for making all of this possible: Nautica, Revo and For Cod & Country, the new book by chef and National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver.


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Join Us for Hands Across the Sand on June 25!

Remember Hands Across the Sand, last year’s explosively popular international demonstration against offshore drilling and for clean energy? The second annual event will take place on June 25 at noon local time all over the world, and Oceana is playing a central role.

Last year’s HANDS brought more than 100,000 people to beaches and parks to join hands for fifteen minutes in a display of solidarity.

Instead of passing laws limiting offshore drilling or raising the liability cap in the event of another major spill, Congress is going in the opposite direction and voting for more offshore drilling, including a major expansion to the East Coast.

Bills being considered now would actually make drilling even less safe than it was before the spill. This fact, along with increasing popular demand for renewable energies, promises a large showing of ocean-lovers to stand up for what’s right.

We’re drawing a metaphorical line in the sand against offshore drilling, will you join us? Check out the details or sign up to organize an event in your community at www.handsacrossthesand.com.

Matt Dundas is a campaign manager at Oceana; he serves on the National Advisory Council for HANDS and attended the 2010 event outside the White House.


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Vote for the 2011 Ocean Heroes!

This year's Junior Ocean Hero finalists.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - time to vote for this year’s Ocean Heroes! The contest is back for the third year and the nominees are more inspiring than ever.

After carefully reviewing more than 500 excellent nominations (thanks to all the nominators!), our expert panel selected a group of six adult finalists and six junior finalists from around the country.

We’re really excited about this year’s crop of finalists, which include an inner-city scuba teacher, a deep-sea engineer, a young artist, plus shark, sea turtle and anti-oil drilling activists, and that’s just a start -- you won’t be disappointed by their stories.

The winners will be announced on June 8th, World Oceans Day, and will receive a prize package that includes great gifts from our corporate sponsors: a gift card from Nautica, a pair of Revo polarized sunglasses and a copy of For Cod & Country, the new guide to sustainable seafood from acclaimed Washington D.C. chef Barton Seaver.

You can vote for your favorite heroes in both the adult and junior categories until May 31. After voting, please help us spread the word by sharing on Facebook and Twitter!

What are you waiting for? Go vote!


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Where Are They Now?: Casey Sokolovic

Casey Sokolovic with her specialty: sea turtle cookies.

We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today we’re catching up with one of our favorites, sea turtle activist Casey Sokolovic.

Casey might look familiar - we can’t get enough of her ever since she was a nominee in the first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009. She’s now 13, but her parents say she still isn’t allowed to have a cell phone. Judging by all of her activities, she probably doesn’t have time to chat on the phone anyway…

Last year she had an internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, NC. She helped with the care of the injured turtles and video blogged her experiences at her website, loveaseaturtle.com.

That’s not all. She’s also busy giving school presentations about sea turtles, and participating at camps with Boys and Girls Clubs in North Carolina. She says she really wants to inspire other kids to help, too.

We are, as ever, inspired by Casey’s dedication to sea turtles. Thanks, Casey!

Nominations end April 27, so don’t delay -- nominate an ocean hero in your life today!


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