Blue Hatchling of the Year Finalists:
Marina Barto - West Palm Beach, Florida
Surface 71 is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization run solely by students. They hold beach cleanups every month and have installed water refill stations into more than eleven local schools. Their mission is to raise awareness about plastic pollution and keep our cities and oceans cleaner and more beautiful. Marina is the President of Surface71 and has been instrumental in spreading clean coast messaging to many Palm Beach County schools.
A write up from 2020 about Surface71 can be found here:
Link to video of marine debris sculptures that visited LMC in 2021:
Santo Steele - Miami, Florida
Miami Waterkeeper Junior Ambassador, Jaïm Steele, recently noticed some discord within his community of Coconut Grove homeowners regarding the disposal of pet waste in resident trash bins. In short, some folks were fine with a doggy bag of waste being dumped in their bin, while others were not! Pet waste, when not properly disposed of, can contribute to nutrient loading in stormwater runoff. Too many nutrients accumulating in our waterways can lead to things like algae blooms and seagrass die-offs in Biscayne Bay.
Jaïm, knowing the importance of proper pet waste disposal, launched a new effort called "Yes Poo, No Poo" to help his neighbors (and our waterways) out! Jaïm saw a simple solution to this unique problem. “Yes Poo, No Poo”, is an initiative to help homeowners understand where pet waste should and shouldn’t go.
Stickers are sold through the Yes Poo, No Poo website. Community members simply stick on a "Yes-poo" or "No-poo" sticker on their trash bin to indicate whether or not pet waste disposal is appropriate! The money raised from these sticker sales is donated to 3 organizations, including Miami Waterkeeper! Jaïm has already raised over $1000 and is looking forward to expanding his impact.
The project is now being carried on by Jaïm's younger brother, Santo. The Yes Poo, No Poo project website can be found here: www.yespoonopoo.com
Ajani Stella - New York, New York
Ajani's climate efforts have grown to focus primarily on youth climate education through the nonprofit he founded, Kids Fight Climate Change, built and led entirely by young people, his goal is to make learning about climate change easy and accessible. The Kids Fight Climate Change website serves as a unique online learning platform that is continuously updated and upgraded. While most organizations focus entirely on in-person learning, our asynchronous model provides more accessible education tailored specifically to young people, creating resources that don’t exist elsewhere. Ajani also conducts in-person and online school talks, ranging from young elementary schoolers to high school seniors, to galvanize youth in classrooms. His school talks have reached over 1,500 students in the last six months alone, and are estimated over the next year our reach to be 2,500–3,500 people. Combining these two arms of his organization, he hopes to inspire collective action in communities and schools and work towards creating change locally and trans-nationally.
Furthermore, over the past year—his first year in full operation—has has received investment that he hopes to use to expand our reach to young people and partners, growing his programs to include expansive video content and action-oriented classroom curricula.
Bio & work history: Ajani's climate journey started in fifth grade (2016–17), when his STEM teacher, Vicki Sando, taught a class about climate change. When he took particular interest in the injustices of the crisis, she presented him with his first speaking opportunity: a speech to the NYC Teachers’ Retirement Fund Board, urging fossil fuel divestment with 350NYC. Their successful coalition of policymakers, activists, public school teachers, and Ajani himself showed the power of collective action, thrusting him into the movement. These influences led Ajani to start his educational climate website in late 2017. Though his path since then has certainly not been a straight one, he always drifted back, drawn to the energy and hope that climate action provides. Still, climate education and accessible resources were woefully lacking. Therefore, in June 2021, Ajani consolidated his resources and website into a nonprofit, Kids Fight Climate Change. At the same time, he has been expanding his network, becoming an NGO delegate to COP 26 in Glasgow. Over the past year, Ajani has been working on growing Kids Fight Climate Change as much as he can, from building his team to expanding content and programs, with hope that it will benefit even more young people and the EE community in the near future.