The Beacon

Blog Tags: Junior Ocean Heroes

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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Ocean Hero Finalists: Carter and Olivia Ries

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

I’ve spent the last week telling you about our adult Ocean Hero finalists, and now it’s time to spotlight the younger set -- our inspiring junior finalists.

First up are 10-year-old Carter and 8-year-old Olivia Ries, who have been involved in saving the planet for an impressive portion of their young lives. In late 2009 they started their own nonprofit organization “One More Generation” (OMG), whose goal is to raise awareness about endangered species around the world.

In 2010, OMG created the following video:


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The Great Bake for Oceans' Sake

© Heather Garland

Ever heard of National Sugar Cookie Day? (No, I’m not making it up.) It’s July 9th, this Friday, and this year it marks the kick-off of The Great Bake for Oceans’ Sake.

Casey Sokolovic, 12, and Alexa BeMent, 10, are organizing The Great Bake to help save wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. The two budding activists were searching for a way to help in the Gulf (and to get everyone else involved) and they have found the tastiest way to do so. 


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Q&A with Shark Finatics' Teacher, Robin Culler

The Shark Finatics

Junior Ocean Hero winners the Shark Finatics with teacher Robin Culler.

The 2010 Junior Ocean Hero Winners are the Shark Finatics, a group of students at Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York who have raised more than $2,000 for shark research and conservation organizations around the world - and an immeasurable amount of awareness about shark finning.

We spoke to the Finatics' teacher, Robin Culler, who was overjoyed to hear that her students had been named Ocean Heroes.

How does it feel to win this award?

Words can't even begin to describe how it feels winning this award! The Finatics have many friends and fans, around the world, who have been such a great support since the very beginning. The kids can't even begin to comprehend the magnitude of all of this. I'm not sure I can either!   

It seems we are living in a time when the oceans really need a hero.

Because of the situation in the Gulf, oceans and our environment are making major daily news. To be winning recognition for all of our work in shark conservation at this time is extremely poignant.

It is unfortunate that it often takes a catastrophe, such as the oil spill, for people to sit up and pay attention to the state of our oceans. I doubt the average person even knows that over 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from our oceans. Unhealthy oceans will trickle down to unhealthy us.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Diana Gonzalez

diana gonzalez

This is the eleventh and final post in a series about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Rounding out our Ocean Heroes finalist series is Diana Gonzalez, who became an ocean activist by accident -- and is making a big difference.

As a high school freshman last year, she was signed up for a marine science course, but decided she wanted to take choir instead. Her counselor said it wasn’t possible, so she kept the class.

She's been singing the ocean's praises ever since.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Bonnie Lei

Bonnie Lei collecting specimens. (Image courtesy Bonnie Lei.)

This is the tenth in a series of posts about the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist already has an impressive resume, and she’s still in high school.

For the past three years, high school junior Bonnie Lei has been conducting independent research on the population structure and evolutionary history of sea slugs to create a better understanding of biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean.

She has reclassified the tropical Spurilla genus, identified a possible new species, and she even presented her research at the international American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meetings in 2009 and 2010.

“With the escalating loss of marine species comes the loss of stability and productivity in entire ecosystems,” she wrote in an essay for us. “It will be impossible to protect these species unless a lucid picture of the distribution, genetic differences, and uniqueness of the populations today is provided.” 


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Ocean Hero Finalists: The Shark Finatics

finatics

The Shark Finatics with teacher Robin Culler. Image courtesy Robin Culler.

This is the ninth in a series of posts about the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

The Shark Finatics are a group of students at Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York. Green Chimneys is renowned for helping emotionally injured children through animal-assisted therapy.

Teacher Robin Culler has worked in the Speech Department for over 11 years. When she read a book about sharks aloud to her students, they were horrified to learn about the brutal practice of shark finning and vowed to tell as many people as they could.

The students, who soon became known as the Shark Finatics, decided to "adopt" a shark. They helped make shark magnets to raise money for their first shark, Jonny, from Fox Shark Research. In 2009, they were proud adoptive parents to 21 sharks.

Through various projects, they have raised more than $2,000 for shark research and conservation organizations around the world. And they have reached out to hundreds of people about the threats facing sharks.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Ayla Besemer

ayla besemer

Ayla Besemer (Age 8 in the photo) relocates a sea start that washed up on the beach. Image courtesy the Besemer family.

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

Last week I highlighted our adult Ocean Hero finalists, so this week it’s the juniors’ turn. First up is 13-year-old Ayla Besemer, who may just be the next Al Gore -- for the oceans. (Except she is way cuter.)

Inspired by the beauty of the creatures in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” 13-year-old Ayla and her friend Simon created “Save Our Seas,” an interactive presentation kids everywhere can give that highlights ocean threats and 15 actions kids can take today.

To date, Ayla has given her “Save Our Seas” presentation to more than 1,500 people in seven states and the Bahamas.


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