The Beacon

Blog Tags: Ocean Hero

Jean Beasley - 2013 Ocean Hero Award Winner!

We are thrilled to announce Jean Beasley as the winner of our 2013 Ocean Hero Award. Jean established and runs a sea turtle rehabilitation center that has rescued and released over 300 sea turtles over the last sixteen years. After hundreds of nominations, a dozen inspiring finalists, and over 7,000 votes, Jean was voted the clear winner! Upon hearing of the win, Jean said, “[I was] a bit incredulous. I know that all the people that were nominated were worthy…I also have really strong feelings about the fact that it takes us all – whatever people are passionate about and whatever they’re doing and wherever they are – to help the oceans, and help the planet, and it benefits us all.”

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From Jimmy Buffett to Pearl Jam: Our Finalists' Favorite Music

A Pirate Looks at Forty: Jimmy Buffett won the hearts (and ears) of many of our Ocean Hero finalists as their favorite ocean-related musical artist! Photo: Michael W. Pendergrass

When our Ocean Hero finalists aren't saving the oceans, many of them love to wind down with music that keeps their love for the oceans going strong! Here are some of our finalists' favorite ocean or beach-related songs: 

Angela Pozzi: I love Jack Johnson’s sensitivity to the sea.

Bren Smith: Banks of Newfoundland 

Dr. Neil Hammerschlag: Pearl Jam – without a doubt! I am a huge PJ fan! I have been to over 30 shows and continue to follow them around. Their music, activism and art is fueled by the band’s love and respect for the ocean. If anyone reading this has an “in” with the band, I would love the opportunity to meet and discuss the ocean with them!

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"Be a Voice for the Voiceless and Never Give Up": Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalist Derek Petrisko

Derek Petrisko – Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 

Derek, 11, along with his two brothers, founded Wild Over Wildlife (WOW!), a club for kids in elementary school who want to learn about and help protect the environment. Of the three boys, Derek leads the group’s focus on ocean issues, which includes protecting loggerhead and green sea turtles via turtle walks, beach cleanups and raising nearly $5,000 for ocean-related charities. In addition, WOW! successfully petitioned three area restaurants to stop serving shark fin soup and convinced the city of Ft. Lauderdale to provide recycling bins in Derek’s neighborhood beach. Next up, WOW! is raising funds to purchase a shark tag for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami.

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Power Points, Sea Turtles, and Jimmy Buffett: Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalist Cori McWilliams

Cori McWilliams – Vero Beach, FL.

Growing up near one of the country’s most important sea turtle nesting sites inspired Cori, 9, to protect the oceans at a young age. Along the way she has become a do-it-all sea turtle advocate. As an active volunteer with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Cori has raised funds, organized beach clean ups and created a presentation to engage elementary school students in sea turtle conservation issues. To date she has shared her message with hundreds of students. Cori has led the STC’s Little Stewards Story Time – an ongoing reading and discussion of conservation issues found in the nature series of Suzanne Tate. Additionally, Cori organized her local Hands Across the Sand event in 2011 along Wabasso Beach at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.

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Oil Spills, T-Shirts, and Jacques Cousteau: Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalists Rory and Maeve McCracken!

Rory and Maeve McCracken – Baton Rouge, LA. 

In the wake of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Rory (age 14) and Maeve (age 10) started the organization “” which raised $8,000 through the sale of T-shirts to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife via the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program.  The siblings also published an illustrated ABC’s book, G is for Gulf, with all proceedings helping to donate additional copies to elementary school libraries and classrooms. To date, books have been donated to schools in Louisiana, Florida and Honduras. Rory and Maeve hope to donate the book to schools in all states that border the Gulf and eventually take it nationwide. 

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Free Willy, Journals, and Saving Sharks: Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalist Sean Lesniak

Sean Lesniak – Lowell, MA.

A lifelong shark lover, Sean, 8, convinced his state representative, David Nangle, to address the brutal practice of shark finning in Massachusetts. In response to Sean’s request, Rep. Nangle filed a bill on his behalf to increase the fines and penalties on the practice of shark finning and Sean spoke on the bill’s behalf before the state Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee earlier this month. The bill, if passed, would impose fines or imprisonment on a statewide level in addition to already existing federal penalties for violators.

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On Our Throw-Away Culture, and 174,000 Signatures: Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalist Abby Goldberg

Abby GoldbergGrayslake, IL. 

Inspired by the harmful impact of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways, Abby, 13, set out to ban plastic bags in her northeast Illinois community. But, faced with a proposed state bill that would forbid towns from banning plastic bags, Abby took her fight to state legislators through her “Don't Let Big Plastic Bully Me” campaign on Her petition gathered over 174,000 signatures and influenced the Governor’s veto of the state bag bill in August 2012. Since then, Abby has testified in favor of a new Chicago check-out bag ordinance, which would ban plastic bags at Chicago stores.

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"Never Take a Defeat as a Negative": Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalist Sierra Garcia

Sierra Garcia – Monterey, CA. 

Sierra, 17, founded an independent beach cleanup organization called Save the Sea Club when she was nine years old. The club, which holds monthly clean-ups at Del Monte Beach along Monterey Bay, has inspired adults to get involved in Sierra’s work and has collected over 25,000 cigarette butts and hundreds of pounds of trash. Additionally, Sierra has captained her annual coastal cleanup every year since she was ten, mobilizing volunteers, organizing supplies and tallying trash collection totals.

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Ecological Redemption, Underwater Gardens, and Moby Dick: Q+A with Ocean Hero Finalist Bren Smith

Bren Smith – Stony Creek, CT. 

After more than a decade of witnessing damaging and destructive fishing practices as a commercial fisherman from Gloucester, MA to Alaska’s Bering Sea, Bren started the innovative Thimble Island Oyster Company in order to become a restorative ocean farmer. His farm spans 20 acres in the Long Island Sound and utilizes a unique 3D model of ocean farming: seaweed and mussels are grown on floating ropes stacked above oyster and clam cages, which together restore habitat, improve water quality and cycle carbon through the ecosystem.

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Dr. Seuss, Bits of Plastic, and Silver Linings: Q+A with Ocean Hero Finalist Angela Pozzi

Angela Pozzi – Bandon, OR.  

Angela is the founder, director and lead artist of the Washed Ashore Project: Art to Save the Sea, a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting plastic debris from local beaches and using it to build incredible sculptures of ocean creatures. Angela and her volunteers are responsible for removing nearly 10 tons of trash from local beaches since 2010, and her sculptures have been exhibited across Oregon, California and Alaska to educate the public about marine creatures, plastic pollution, and the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

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