Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists!
The winners will be announced at the Ninth Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon,
being held at PGA National Resort & Spa on Friday, October 27, 2016.
Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award Finalists:
The recipient of the Eleanor Fletcher Award exemplifies a lifelong, extraordinary commitment to marine conservation education through their work or volunteer activities similar to Loggerhead Marinelife Center Founder Eleanor Fletcher.
Describe why the nominee became involved in marine conservation, their accomplishments, most significant impact, and how they inspired change.
Linda Cabot credits a lifetime of sailing for her love affair with the ocean. Feeling a deep concern for the health and future of our seas, she embarked on a sailing trip with her daughters in 2011 to create a documentary about environmental issues impacting the Gulf of Maine. This film, From the Bow Seat, continues to appear on Maine Public Television and serves as a resource for educators.
Producing the documentary engaged Linda and her daughters in a way that articles, textbooks, and lectures could not. Realizing the power of creative media to educate, inspire, and activate younger generations, Linda founded Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that motivates young people to become ocean caretakers through education and engagement with the arts, science, and advocacy.
Bow Seat’s signature initiative – the annual Ocean Awareness Student Contest – challenges middle and high schoolers to explore human impacts on ocean health through visual art, film, poetry, and prose. Nearly 10,000 teenagers worldwide have participated since the Contest launched in 2012, and more than $100,000 in scholarships have been awarded. In 2017, Bow Seat received entries from 63 countries and 48 U.S. states. The students’ creations demonstrate how the arts are a powerful tool that taps into human emotions and speaks to personal beliefs, which is necessary to drive a widespread cultural shift toward one that values the health of our coastal and marine ecosystems.
How do the nominee’s efforts directly or indirectly benefit marine life and ocean conservation?
Linda believes that students who learn by creating experience deeper knowledge and longer-lasting behavior change. Through her work with Bow Seat, Linda is engaging a new generation of ocean stewards who recognizes the challenges facing our blue planet and is motivated to take action and find creative solutions.
Besides hosting the annual Contest, Bow Seat promotes ocean conservation by sponsoring and participating in initiatives such as the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in Florida, Healthy Ocean Hill Day in D.C., the High School Marine Science Symposium in Boston, and PangeaSeed Foundation’s international Sea Walls public art festivals. Bow Seat also provides classroom resources on ocean pollution topics and forges purposeful partnerships with like-minded organizations – such as Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, and Seacoast Science Center – to maximize efforts to protect the future of our oceans.
How have the contributions of the nominee been an inspiration or example to others?
Linda recognizes that youth are enthusiastic, energetic, and optimistic – and when they are empowered, they can do amazing things. She aims to instill knowledge, curiosity, and ultimately stewardship of coastal and ocean ecosystems in young students.
Contest participants are often learning about the ocean for the first time: “I could no longer ignore what was going on in my community. This new knowledge changed how I see the way that I live, work, and interact with the environment.”
Students reflect on how participating in the Contest shapes their attitudes about their own power to affect change: “As I began writing, I realized that maybe my writing can be used for something besides ‘just winning a contest.’ I can use my abilities and interests to make an impact, regardless of my age. The ‘I’m just one person so I can’t make a difference’ mindset is really dangerous and unfortunately prevalent, so I hope to show others through this piece that people can make a difference by themselves.”
What is the nominee’s history of commitment and accomplishment?
As an endorsement of Linda’s work, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently awarded Bow Seat a grant to launch the Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition, which challenges students to carry out a campaign that educates the public about marine debris and stimulates behavior change and action.
Linda is a Board Member of Women Working for Oceans and a trustee of the New England Aquarium. She is a lead donor of the Aquarium’s new Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, a scientific endeavor focusing on fisheries conservation and aquaculture solutions, marine mammal research and conservation, habitat and ecosystem health, and marine animal health.
Demonstrating her commitment to environmental education, Linda was a primary financial contributor of the Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Anderson-Cabot Hall for Graduate Studies, which allows the best and brightest local Bahamian and international graduate students to pursue careers in the marine sciences. She also sponsored the Linda N. Cabot Science Symposium at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, which focused on important new research on the changing nature of the world’s oceans and the questions that arise from that change.
In 2017, Linda received the Gulf of Maine Council’s Visionary Award, which recognizes innovation, creativity, and commitment to marine protection by those who are making a difference to the health of the Gulf of Maine.
Dr. Wallace J Nichols
Dr. Nichols who goes by J, is creating change and raising awareness throughout the world. Personally for us, speaking on behalf of the WOW (Wild Over Wildlife) group, he has been an incredible inspiration to our ocean efforts. When we discovered the Blue Mind book, we couldn’t believe we had not already read it. J spends most of his life teaching about the science of being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do. Through the Blue Mind, he has many supporters that can’t wait to help him spread this message. People from all over the globe are enjoying water of all kinds and sharing it on social media raising awareness about the importance of water and connecting this message to conservation efforts as we know the famous quote by Jacques Cousteau, “people protect what they love” and in this case what they need on so many levels! 100 Days of Blue Campaign is going on until October for surging out the love and protection of our waters for 100 days straight hashtagging #100DaysOfBlue, you can see posts from all over the beautiful Earth!
Dr. Nichols started out as a Turtle Biologist and still does much work around the globe working with groups, and organizations on behalf of turtle education, awareness, and protection. Dr. Nichols started the Blue Marbles campaign, which is another very clever way of including people from around the globe, the project is to show gratitude and pass blue marbles along which symbolizes how our water planet looks from space, (early astronauts said on a mission that we look like a little blue marble). They have been placed in the hands of some many great people around the world, even the Dalai Lama has one! He has been featured on many TV spots, magazines around the world, TED talk, among other things and he is still always appreciative and humbled by peoples support and interest in his work. Dr. Nichols has been such a great addition to the WOW group and I’m sure you will agree that he is very deserving of an award at the 2017 Go Blue Awards Luncheon!
Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols, called “Keeper of the Sea” by GQ Magazine and “a visionary” by Outside Magazine is an innovative, silo-busting, entrepreneurial scientist, movement maker, renown marine biologist, voracious Earth and idea explorer, wild water advocate, bestselling author, sought after lecturer, and fun-loving Dad. He also likes turtles (a lot).
In 2017 Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama presented the Champion of Change Award at World Oceans Festival at Governor’s Island, New York to Dr. Nichols.
“I’m delighted to present this important award to someone who shares my passion and emotional attachment to the health of our oceans”, said PM Bainimarama.
Nichols’ experiences as a field research scientist, government consultant, founder and director of numerous businesses and nonprofit organizations, teacher, mentor, parent, and advisor all support his quest to build a stronger and more diverse blue movement.
Formerly a Senior Scientist at Ocean Conservancy, Nichols holds a B.A. degree from DePauw University in Biology and Spanish, an M.E.M. degree in Natural Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University, and a Ph.D. degree in Wildlife Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. He received a Bradley Fellowship to study the impacts of sea level rise at Duke University Marine Lab, a Marshall Fellowship to study at the University of Arizona, and a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico marine station in Mazatlan. In 2010 he delivered the commencement address at DePauw University where he also received an honorary doctorate in science. In 2011 he was inducted as a Fellow National member of the Explorers Club. In 2014 he received the University of Arizona’s Global Achievement Award.
He has authored more than 200 scientific papers, technical reports, book chapters, and popular publications; lectured in more than 30 countries; and appeared in hundreds of print, film, radio, and television media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Elle, Vogue, Fast Company, Surfer Magazine, Scientific American, and New Scientist, among others.
His research interests span ocean and aquatic ecosystems, migratory species, marine protected areas, fisheries management, and plastic pollution with special emphasis on building new action networks and developing novel interdisciplinary solutions, sometimes involving so-called enemies. He takes a slow, collaborative approach with leaders in businesses, government, non-profits, and academia to inspire a deeper connection with nature and inventive approaches to pressing issues ranging from supplies of fresh water to improved hospice care for our aging population.
His current focus is on what he refers to as Blue Mind, a powerful new universal story of water. In this story society accurately describes all of the physical, ecological, economic, cognitive, emotional, psychological, and social benefits of healthy oceans and waterways. By connecting neuroscientists and psychologists with aquatic experts and artists to ask and answer exciting new questions his work is transforming many sectors, including: health and well-being; education and parenting; arts, architecture and design; real estate and urban planning; travel and leisure; and sports and recreation.
His book Blue Mind, published in summer 2014 by Little, Brown & Company, quickly became a national bestseller and has been translated to numerous languages and inspired a wave of media and practical application.
J. knows that inspiration comes sometimes through adventures, or simply by walking and talking. Other times through writing, images, and art. Science and knowledge can also stoke our fires. But he also knows that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves. At every turn he encourages people to disconnect from the grid and reconnect with themselves, those they love, and the special places they care about.
His research, expeditions, and work as a guide have taken him to coasts and waterways across North, Central and South America, to Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe where he continually finds that the emotional connection to waters of all kinds—rather than force or financial gain—is what keeps his colleagues and collaborators working hard to understand and restore our blue planet.
J. is currently a Senior Fellow at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies’ Center for the Blue Economy, a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and co-founder of Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates, SEEtheWILD, a conservation travel network, Grupo Tortuguero, an international sea turtle conservation network, and The Blue Mind Fund a global campaign to reconnect people to water.
He advises a motivated group of international graduate students and serves as an advisor to numerous non-profit boards and committees as part of his commitment to building a stronger, more progressive and connected environmental community.
J. lives with his partner Dana, two daughters and some cats, dogs and chickens on California’s SLOWCOAST, a rural stretch of coastal mountains where organic strawberries rule, mountain lions roam and their motto is “In Slow We Trust”. The Nichols chose to settle down in this area after trekking the entire 1,800 kilometer coast from Oregon to Mexico. “We liked it here”, Nichols said.
Jeff is an international award-winning marine life filmmaker and photographer specializing in dolphins, whales and sharks, and is the founder of The Whaleman Foundation and its Save the Whales Again! Campaign.
In 1995, Jeff founded The Whaleman Foundation (Whaleman), a non-profit oceanic research, conservation, and production organization dedicated to preserving and protecting cetaceans (dolphins, whales, and porpoises) and our oceans. The Foundation’s primary mission is to raise public awareness while educating key decision-makers on the issues that effect cetaceans and their critical habitats. Whaleman is accomplishing this through its films, public service announcements, and outreach campaigns.
Since Whaleman’s inception, Jeff has written, directed, and produced 7 films on the critical issues facing cetaceans and their environment including “Gray Magic: The Plight of San Ignacio Lagoon”, “Orcas in Crisis: The Plight of the Southern Resident Orcas”, and “Deadly Sounds in the Silent World” which won “Best Short Film” at the 2003 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
Jeff’s latest film featuring Hayden Panettiere is titled “Whale Entanglements: A Deadly Problem” and was premiered and shown to the delegates attending the 2012 meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) resulting in the IWC creating the “International Whale Disentanglement Response Team” of which Jeff is a proud member.
Jeff’s unique images and words have appeared in Ocean Realm, Sport Diver, Discover Diving, and Dive International magazines. His photographs have won several international awards.
Jeff has had the privilege of working with some of the most respected names in the world of underwater filmmaking including Howard and Michele Hall, Bob Talbot, Hardy Jones, and Norbert Wu. Jeff’s film credits include IMAX’s “Into the Deep”, Discovery Channel’s “The Ocean Acrobats” and “Extreme Machines: Raiders of the Deep”, PBS’s “Secrets of the Ocean Realm”, CBS’s Survivor, and Outdoor Life Network’s “Deadly Waters: Whales in Danger”. Jeff’s feature film credits include “Dallas 362”, “Shanghai Kiss”, “Class of 83”, “Whaledreamers” and the Oscar winning documentary “The Cove”. Jeff is currently working on a feature length documentary film.
Jeff is also a dolphin and whale researcher. Since 1996, Jeff has been researching humpback whales with Dr. Marsha Green of the Ocean Mammal Institute studying their social sounds and behaviors and the impacts that vessel engine noise is having on them. In 2009, Jeff partnered with Dr. Roger Payne of Ocean Alliance and Dr. John Wise of the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology at the University of Southern Maine to investigate and research chemical contamination in cetaceans. Since 2010, Jeff has been working with the Hawaiian Islands National Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary on its 10-year study determining the overall health assessment of North Pacific Humpback whales. Jeff’s latest research project is in conjunction with Alicia Amerson of Scripps Institute studying the gray whale migration from Mexico to Canada to help determine the best international guidelines for whale watch companies.
Jeff’s passion, commitment, and dedication keep him on the forefront of marine related issues and interests worldwide. He strongly believes that international cooperation is the key to solving the many issues that face our marine environment and he demonstrates this by donating the use of his images and film footage while working closely with other environmental organizations working on behalf of marine life including Ocean Alliance, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Scripps Institute, and others.
Dr. James (Buddy) Powell
Buddy spent his childhood watching manatees in Crystal River, Florida, a spring system of critical conservation importance to manatees. His fascination for manatees grew while he was a teenager and was “contracted” to help Jacques Cousteau study them in Crystal River. Today, Buddy still leads research and educational expeditions to Crystal River, which has been preserved as a protected area for manatees and other species, thanks in part to Buddy’s tireless devotion to protecting this keystone species.
Forty years after Buddy first discovered manatees, he created the Sea to Alliance in 2008 with a group of like-minded experts and advisers to forge a new approach to coastal conservation. S2S Alliance, a Florida-based 501(c)(3) non-profit, employs a two-tiered approach to conservation — scientific research and public education. Today, S2S Alliance has established operations not only in the United States, but in Belize and Cuba and possibly one day in Africa – all countries with high numbers of manatees.
The dedicated team at S2S Alliance works with all three species of manatees, conducting research and conservation activities resulting in positive impacts to manatees. They use satellite tagging, aerial surveys, photo identification and other tools and use sound scientific data to help ensure the survival of manatees around the world. This data is informing natural resource managers about critical habitats for manatees, such as springs and other warm water sources, which manatees need to survive.
S2S doesn’t limit its attention to just manatees, but also to the conservation of other flagship species, such as sea turtles and right whales, to ensure greater protection for the species themselves and for the sensitive habitats these animals rely on around the world.
Buddy’s work is inspirational. He lectures, writes and travels the world to educate and inspire individuals (and countries) to take care of its animals and their environment. One important person that Buddy met and has influenced was an 11 year old young Cuban boy named Jamal Galves. Buddy was heading out on tagging expedition in Cuba when Jamal asked if he could volunteer. Today, Jamal is S2S Alliance’s field assistant in Cuba and Jamal was recently honored with the Meritorious Service Award from the Governor-General of Belize, in recognition of his dedication to conserving the manatee population there.
Just as has been done here in the United States, S2S Alliance’s work in Belize and Cuba has helped provide vital information on the manatee population’s status, and what measures and efforts still need to be taken to ensure manatees continue to exist.
As Buddy has said, ““I’ve always believed that when the marine environment is healthy, the health of humans benefits — from the fish we eat to the waters our children play in.”
As responsible stewards of our planet S2S Alliance exists because it recognizes that endangered and threatened species and habitats have intrinsic value in our world, and thriving and healthy ecosystems are linked to the health and well-being of humans. By focusing on the conservation of keystone marine species, S2S Alliance is able to garner protection for the larger habitats in which they reside. Healthy waterways benefit coastal communities ecologically, economically, and physically. Their work far surpasses single species conservation. Through victories in conserving key flagship species, they are safeguarding coastal habitats and ultimately human livelihoods and health.
• Ph.D., University of Cambridge, Zoology, 1998
• Masters of Marine Affairs, University of Washington, 1983, Marine Affairs and Resource Management
• Bachelor of Science, University of Florida, 1978, Wildlife Biology
For more than 40 years, Dr. James “Buddy” Powellhas worked to conserve manatees and other endangered species around the world and his efforts have resulted in coastal protected areas in Florida, West Africa, Central America, and now Cuba. His approach integrates science and education to unlock solutions to conservation issues.
A native Floridian, in the 1970s Buddy worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a biologist and manatee specialist. In 1986, he moved to West Africa where he studied manatees and forest elephants for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and was pivotal in establishing several coastal protected areas. He and his wife, Maureen, moved to Belize in the 1990s where they managed WCS’s Glover’s Reef Marine Research Station. They then returned to Florida where Buddy administered Florida’s research program on marine mammals and sea turtles for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In 2001, he became Vice President for Aquatic Programs at Wildlife Trust.
In 2008, Buddy co-founded Sea to Shore Alliance. The organization was created to form a partnership of scientists and citizen volunteers with the expertise, passion, and vision to help reverse the degradation of our aquatic coastal environment and loss of species and diversity. “We created Sea to Shore Alliance to fulfill three primary objectives: better protect endangered aquatic species using science, better awareness, and training conservationists. We maintain focus on our mission by limiting the need for infrastructure and we achieve our mission cost effectively by minimizing the administrative burden as much as possible”, Buddy shared. “We are a small, nimble and lean organization with a dedicated, trained staff. The results of our work and efforts are having an impact. Sea to Shore is quickly becoming recognized as a respected, objective and valuable resource for wildlife managers, educators, stakeholders and agencies involved with protecting our coastal species and habitats.”
Buddy was the recipient of the prestigious Pew Award in Marine Conservation in 2000, has been featured on “Champions of the Wild” and National Geographic’s “Wild Chronicles” documentaries, and has been honored with multiple awards and certificates. Buddy has authored two books, numerous scientific publications, and popular articles.
Executive Director Comments:
“We created Sea to Shore Alliance to fulfill three primary objectives: better protect endangered aquatic species using science, better awareness and training conservationists, we maintain focus on our mission by limiting the need for infrastructure and we achieve our mission as cost effectively by minimizing administrative burden as much as possible. We are a small, nimble and lean organization with a dedicated, trained staff. The results of our work and efforts are having an impact. Sea2Shore is quickly becoming recognized as a respected, objective and valuable resource for wildlife managers, educators, stakeholders and agencies involved with protecting our coastal species.” (James “Buddy” Powell)
John Reynolds graduated Cum Laude with Departmental Honors in Biology from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in 1974. He received his M.S. and Ph. D. degrees in Biological Oceanography from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in 1977 and 1980, respectively.
He was employed at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL from 1980-2001, where he served as Professor of Marine Science and Biology and Chairman of the Natural Sciences Collegium; he was integral in establishing the college’s renowned marine science major and remains the only Eckerd faculty member to receive all three of the College’s faculty excellence awards for teaching, leadership, and scholarship.
In 1989, Reynolds became a member of the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals for the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, the federal agency with oversight for all research and management of marine mammals in the United States. In 1990, he became Chairman of the Committee of Scientific Advisors, and in 1991, he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve as Chairman of the Marine Mammal Commission. He led that agency through mid-2010 under four different administrations, and in 2010, the agency’s accomplishments were recognized by a distinguished service award by the international Society for Conservation Biology.
Since 2001, Reynolds has been a Senior Scientist for Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, FL, where he has served as Director of the International Consortium for Marine Conservation and Director of the Center for Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Research.
From 2001-2008, he was co-Chair of the IUCN Sirenian Specialist Group, and from 2006-2008, he served as President of the International Society for Marine Mammalogy. Recently he has worked with the United Nations Environment Programme to develop and implement a Caribbean-wide Marine Mammal Action Plan.
In recognition of his long-term research and conservation efforts with Alaskan marine mammals and environmental issues, he was given an Eskimo name: Emuqtannee (swimming walrus). Reynolds is a member of Phi Beta Kappa; has been nominated for international awards for his accomplishments in conservation and science; and has published approximately 320 books, papers, and abstracts.
In addition to his many career achievements, John Reynolds is an exceptional man. He has mentored hundreds of young scientists over his career, which has allowed him to share his passion for conservation with future generations. He is a kind soul and values the friendships that have been created through the several decades of collaboration.
On a more personal note, John has been a mentor to me over the past 10 years. His patience and guidance has been instrumental in furthering my career. He asks great questions and is thoughtful with his answers. He is hard on the issue, yet easy on the people. For all of these reasons, I wholeheartedly nominate Dr. John Reynolds for the Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award.
If Eleanor Fletcher were reading this nomination for The Eleanor Fletcher Award, she would understand intuitively why Ted Turner deserves it. Turner’s overarching commitment to stewardship of all Earth’s resources, by definition, makes marine conservation part of his extraordinary legacy.
Ted Turner has a long track record of environmental activism. America’s most famous media entrepreneur has put more than his money into environmental causes. He’s put his head and heart into it. He has modeled for others how to communicate environmental challenges. And his persuasive personality has brought others – activists, politicians, philanthropists, everyday folks and their kids – into environmentalism.
Through three decades of audacious and tenacious leadership, Ted has accelerated marine, land, and species conservation; supported research to shape environmental policy and practice; and drawn early attention to climate change. Turner deserves the Eleanor Fletcher Award for the following lifetime accomplishments:
Environmental education: Ted understood that people don’t become environmentalists overnight. They must develop respect for our oceans, lands, and natural resources from early on in order to support policies for a sustainable planet as adults. Ted made environmental education a focus. In 1989, he created and aired an animated television series, Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Featuring voices of stars such as Whoopi Goldberg, Meg Ryan, Sting and LaVar Burton, the shows engaged children in environmental challenges through storytelling. (Still shown on Mother Nature Network and video games).
Turner established the Captain Planet Foundation that encourages schools and youth groups around the world to apply for seed money to “grow” their environmental projects. The Foundation has funded more than 1800 projects. It launched Planeteer Clubs in schools and “Learning Gardens” in Georgia and California. The Turner Foundation continues to fund environmental stewardship through myriad youth projects.
Bold environmental leadership: Ted created the Turner Foundation in 1990 to prevent “damage to the natural systems – water, air, and land – on which all life depends.” Since 1990, he has given more than $350 million to environmental causes, including $17 million to the League of Conservation Voters and $2 million to create the Turner Endangered Species Fund. Many endangered species organizations, land trusts, conservation societies, and the Environmental Defense Fund are recipients of donations.
Bold philanthropic leadership: In 1997, Turner pledged $1 billion to launch the United Nations Foundation. The ambitious goal: build public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems. In 1998, he made Colorado Senator Tim Wirth, an environmentalist and early climate change expert, its first director. The Foundation maintains an environmental focus: it will work with California Governor Jerry Brown and others representing municipalities at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit to fulfill the Paris agreement.
After making that extraordinary pledge, Turner said, “I was putting other rich people on notice that I would be calling on them to be more generous.” Call on them he did: Bill Gates and Warren Buffet acknowledged Turner’s example in launching The Giving Pledge in 2010. Signatories to the pledge commit to giving back a majority of their wealth. To date, there are 170 pledgers. Turner has passed his philanthropic passion and priorities to second and third generation Turners: The Turner Foundation is governed by Ted and his five children – all committed environmentalists.
Conservation of land and native species: Some wealthy people buy boats, planes or paintings. Turner buys land to preserve it. He is the second largest individual land holder in North America. Turner Enterprises, Inc. manages lands in ten states and in Argentina “in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while promoting the conservation of native species.”
Fortitude in face of great challenges: Ted views nuclear war and climate change as the planet’s gravest threats. He has said they can “seem overwhelming, and when they do, I remind myself of a conversation with Jacques Cousteau. I asked him if he ever got discouraged that the problems he was working on were insurmountable. He looked at me and said, ‘Ted, it could be that these problems can’t be solved, but what can men of good conscience do but keep trying until the very end?’ At that moment, his very words inspired me to want to do even more.”
I count myself among those inspired by Ted Turner. When he was Chairman, Time Warner, I was running TIME For Kids. Ted received the magazine along with dozens of other Time Inc. titles. When we ran stories on environmental issues, kudos arrived from Ted. We launched a special series, Heroes for the Planet, and oceanographer Sylva Earle was featured in its first cover story. Ted sent a handwritten note: “Inspiring! Kids need to learn about people like her. Keep it up! And please send 50 copies to my office.”
If people don’t automatically think “oceans” when they think of Ted Turner it’s for a reason. For decades, his goal has been nothing less than saving the planet.
As a philanthropist, he is best known for early support for environmental causes, including fighting climate change. In pledging $1 billion to the UN to create the UN Foundation, he inspired others who had amassed great wealth to pledge to give back a large share of their net worth to support causes for good.
Turner ‘s media empire began with his father’s billboard business. He took over Turner Outdoor Advertising in 1963, at the age of 24 after his father’s death. It was worth $1 million.
In 1970, he bought and the Atlanta UHF station that launched Turner Broadcasting System, pioneering the “superstation” concept in cable television. In 1976, Turner bought two sports teams, the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks, in part to provide programming for his superstation, beaming Braves games into homes across North America, making the Braves a household name. He launched and aired the charitable Goodwill Games.
In 1979, he formed Cable News Network (CNN) a 24-hour hour news service that revolutionized news media. CNN became the source of breaking news when it covered the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
In 1988, he launched Turner Network Television, showing older movies and television shows, eventually adding original programs and newer reruns. In 1992 he launched Cartoon Network. Both launches were supported by strategic content acquisitions.
In 1990, he created the Turner Foundation to focus his philanthropy on environmental issues such as climate change, nuclear proliferation and sustainable population growth. That same year, he created Captain Planet, an environmental superhero. He produced two Captain Planet TV series to help children develop environmental stewardship.
In fall 1996, Turner merged the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. with Time Warner, Inc. Turner was made vice chairman and head of Time Warner and Turner’s cable networks division. In 2000, Time Warner merged with AOL, widely regarded as a disaster. Turner resigned as vice chairman in 2003 and from the board of directors in 2006.
In September 1997, Turner announced a $1 billion gift to create the United Nations Foundation, a public charity to broaden domestic support for the UN. He called it an “investment in the future of humanity.”
Today, approaching 80, continues his philanthropic efforts. He is Chairman of Turner Enterprises, Chairman of the Turner Foundation, and Chairman of the United Nations Foundation board of directors. For more, see https://givingpledge.org/Pledger.aspx?id=302