Blue Hatchling Youth Award Finalists:
Recognizes a person under age 17 who has made significant contributions in marine conservation through volunteer related activities.
Project O.C.E.A.N., Dyson Chee’s initiative to beat plastic pollution, has taken him around 10 months and $3,000 to conduct, and it is still ongoing. Dyson’s original goal was to visit at least 5 schools and reach out to 100 students per semester. However, he reached that goal within the first month of running Project O.C.E.A.N. Dyson continued to visit classrooms and community events as much as possible. In April 2019 alone, he visited 14 classrooms and events, and reached out to over 340 people, including around 275 students. He also gave out around 330 stainless steel straws in this month alone.
In order to successfully conduct Project O.C.E.A.N. and beat plastic pollution, Dyson had to continuously improve his now impressive speech skills, tap into three years’ worth of accumulated knowledge in the plastic pollution field, and use his talent for conveying his passion and connecting with other youth. Because of his hard work, in the 7 months Project O.C.E.A.N. has been active he has given out more than 1,480 stainless steel straws and reached out to over 2,000 people. Through social media, people have been regularly posting themselves using the stainless steel straws Dyson gave them, and he has inspired numerous people to make more sustainable lifestyle changes.
Stainless-steel straws can be expensive when bought individually (a set of two at Whole Foods can cost around $10), but are much more inexpensive when bought in bulk (Dyson buys around 1,500 of them for approximately 50¢ each). Although Dyson has had to accumulate both grant money and his pocket money in order to purchase this many stainless steel straws, it ultimately saves the cost of the whole. He has given away over 1,480 stainless-steel straws to students, teachers, and community members so far. Since 1,480 straws cost Dyson around $740, this means he has saved each person from buying their own $5 stainless steel straw, which totals to around $6,660 saved as a whole.
Statistically, Dyson also saved around 2,196 single-use plastic straws from being used and discarded every single day. According to UN Environment, approximately 500 million single-use plastic straws are used and disposed of in the United States alone every single day which totals to around 1.5 single-use plastic straws per person per day. And this only includes straws, not any other single-use plastic items such as utensils, bottles, etc. which people who were inspired by Dyson’s presentation have been also reducing their usage of. Single-use plastics are only used just once, yet can harm marine animals, eco system, the ocean, etc.
More than 30 schools and organizations have benefited from Dyson’s project, either through presentations or outreach. Some of them requested Dyson to come back multiple times for presentations and/or outreach. A complete list of schools and events that Dyson visited as part of Project O.C.E.A.N. is attached to this form as well as the contact information of two organizations that benefited the most from Dyson’s project, for your reference.
Project O.C.E.A.N. will be active until the end of the 2020 school year, as that will be when Dyson graduates from high school and goes to college. Dyson started out Project O.C.E.A.N. as an educational project for a variety of reasons. Primarily, he believed that education was an extremely important first step to weaning ourselves of off single-use plastics. Second, since he was still working on accumulating knowledge and experience in the Hawaii State Legislature and the political field in general, he decided it was better to avoid committing himself fully to legislation until he felt that he was completely ready. However, now that Dyson has had two year’s worth of experience in testifying and one year’s worth of experience as an intern in the Hawaii State Legislature, he will be shifting the focus of his work to legislation on the State and County levels for the final year of Project O.C.E.A.N.
The reason why Dyson made June 2020 the termination date for Project O.C.E.A.N. is because he modeled Project O.C.E.A.N. around the fact that he was a high schooler–a kid–who could talk to fellow kids about plastic pollution. Once he is in college, the core reason behind Project O.C.E.A.N. will be outdated. He is planning to go to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and will join the Surfrider Foundation University of Hawaii Chapter, a student-run sustainability club, to continue work similar to his current work in the plastic pollution field, as a college student.
Dyson actually created Project O.C.E.A.N. as a project, and not as a non-profit, for the specific reason of keeping it easily replicable anywhere by anyone in any field. Dyson was intimidated at the thought of creating a non-profit organization. He began to realize that he was not the only one who was intimidated and put off by the thought of creating a non-profit to tackle an issue. Once he came up with the idea for Project O.C.E.A.N., he decided to make it a template for other youth to be able to follow, and he kept it at the project level when many of his friends were starting non-profits organizations. He knew that it would most likely cost him the ability to secure multiple large, thousand-dollar grants, and would make some other smaller grants harder to secure, but he pushed on as a project anyway.
Although Dyson’s total budget for Project O.C.E.A.N. is around $3,000 as of May 2019, if he were to cut out giving away stainless-steel straws the total starting cost would be around $100, something easily securable in the form of mini-grants, even as a project. When he presented to a group of international exchange students recently, they asked him how much is costed to start his project, and were surprised at the relative inexpensiveness of it (even with the stainless steel straws $3,000 in the starting year is not a terribly expensive budget, especially since Dyson has over a thousand leftover straws from this year that can be used next year, cutting out the straw expenses for next year). Not only that, depending on the scope of your project there is very little paperwork involved, which cuts down on the complexity and time–something important for youth who have to focus on school.
Finally, Dyson’s project is very simply structured, but effective. Dyson first learns about the problem and identifies potential solutions. Next, he focuses on specific solutions that utilize his strengths and interests. Finally, Dyson incorporates those solutions into his project, and it is ready to go. These three steps are easily replicable in most fields of study, not just plastic pollution.
Dyson showed creativity and innovation in Project O.C.E.A.N. by thrusting himself, a homeschooled high schooler, into fields that are rare for high schoolers to be so actively involved in. By putting himself into the education field he is using his young age as a bridge to connect himself to fellow youth and becomes proof that, no matter how young you are, you can make a difference. By dedicating himself to legislative action, he is also showing that youth have a stake in the issue of plastic pollution and becomes a voice for the future generation. Adding a portion where people can have stainless-steel straws for free in exchange for not using single-use plastic straws as much as possible allows individuals to start making an easy but meaningful change in their lifestyle, which can then open their eyes to the bigger issue of plastic pollution as well as the other solutions too.
In addition to Dyson's achievement and accomplishments in Hawaii, he has also been deeply involved in many other organizations and programs outside of Hawaii as well. For example, because of his leadership, he have been invited to multiple events in a leadership position. One was as a Peer Advisor at the Algalita Marine Research and Education's three day Plastic Ocean Pollution Youth Summit back in February 2019. Dyson's role was to help the student participants with different activities associated with plastic pollution, look at the youth attendees' projects and talk to them about it, and maintain contact with some of the project groups even after the youth summit. He is currently serving on a youth planning committee to help Algalita plan their next plastic free youth summit. Dyson was also a GIN Leader for the Global Issues Network Conference at Punahou School. Dyson was one of the student leaders for another plastic free youth event in June 2019, the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp (OHBC), where he worked to assist other youth interested in joining the movement to #beatplasticpollution. The OHBC was where Dyson first began to get involved with the issue of plastic pollution, and he was extremely excited to give back and help youth who were interested in tackling plastic pollution but unsure where to start–as he was a year ago. Although his term has ended as an EarthEcho International Water Challenge Ambassador, Dyson is still working with their Youth Leadership Council on their Future in the Bag campaign and am a partner with EarthEcho International, leading water quality testing events around Oahu.
It is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Savannah Dahan for the Blue Hatchling Youth Award.
Savannah is a 9-year-old Deaf performance artist who was born with moderate to severe hearing loss. Her parents and siblings are all Deaf, and use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate.
At an early age, Savannah's parents exposed her to music through the beautiful art of sign language. Since then, she has signed a number of top chart hits, starting with Carrie Underwood's "The Champion" that hit over a million views. She was featured on CBS, NBC, and ABC's "Good Morning America," to name a few.
When she is not performing renditions for music covers, she spends extreme time advocating for the marine environment and the life in it. Earlier this year, she began using her platforms on social media through Facebook and Instagram (@savvyasl) to educate the Deaf community through her weekly video blog series in American Sign Language, appropriately titled, "Marine
Mondays," earning her a total of 35,000-plus followers. During "Marine Mondays" she takes the opportunity to provide one-minute interesting facts about the marine environment, animals, pollution, and how we can become better stewards for marine conservation. She has done videos where she showed her followers ASL signs for different marine creatures, and how to protect coral reefs by using reef-safe sunscreen products. She especially caught their attention by sharing facts about sea turtles including naming the seven extant species of sea turtles in the world, and advised her followers to knock down sandcastles and fill in manmade holes on the beach prior to leaving for the day during the nesting season so that sea turtle nesters and their hatchlings would not be obstructed. During Plastic Free July, she worked on and posted a few videos encouraging everyone to switch over to using reusable water bottles after learning the severity of single-use plastics and its negative effects on our planet and the life in it.
Knowing sea turtles are one of Savannah's favorite animals, her parents arranged for a first-time visit at Loggerhead Marinelife Center recently where she got to see "behind-the-scenes" inside the hospital where she observed a team of incredibly skilled veterinary staff working together to improve the health of our sea turtle patients. She absorbed each patient's background as we toured the outside part of the hospital. She asked many great questions which validated my observation that it would be without a doubt that she is on the right track to what she envisions herself to become in the near future: a marine conservationist.
Inspired by her recent visit at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, for her birthday the following week, Savannah decided to set up a fundraiser where she asked for donations be made to Loggerhead Marinelife Center. To date, she has raised $120 in donations. Not only that, she has committed to returning to Loggerhead Marinelife Center to stay up to date on our conservation efforts so that she can pass on the urgent message concerning sea turtle conservation to the Deaf community through American Sign Language.
She may be 9 years old and about to enter 4th grade in Maryland, but she is already shining with such brilliance. Her passion and positive energy to change the world is contagious. And after meeting with her in person, I have no doubt that she will continue to succeed at it, in addition to inspiring others her age to do the same.
When you observe Savannah in her element, you cannot help but feel inspired she will undeniably become one of our leaders for the next generation of marine conservationists, carrying along with them "waves of progress" to our ocean planet.
Thank you for considering the young aspiring Deaf marine biologist for the Blue Hatchling Youth Award.
Emily Horgen - Award Recipient
This past year, Emily Horgen began creating an educational children's picture book about the manmade threats that sea turtles face around the world. While writing and illustrating a short story is in itself an impressive accomplishment, this is no ordinary children's book. Emily is using her proficiency in Mandarin Chinese in order to spread these critical lessons of marine conservation to an audience across the world, an audience that is in large part unaware of their full impact on sea turtles and other marine life. Emily realized the necessity of this initiative after her own travels across China. With the help of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Emily has successfully published her book, and is now working through the complex distribution project in a nation that is incredibly strict in terms of content entering its borders. I cannot think of a more worthy candidate for this award. Emily's efforts are completely self-motivated and are truly unique, setting her apart from her peers.
Emily Horgen - 2nd Nomination
Emily Horgen is a Conservation Department Intern at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. I serve as Emily's supervisor on her project entitled, "Lee the Sea Turtle Swims Free." During this time, I have been consistently impressed with Emily's creativity, work ethic and drive. She is a pleasure to work with and shows a real passion for marine conservation.
As an LMC Conservation Intern, Emily spearheaded a first of its kind multicultural sea turtle conservation project aimed to change local perspectives of sea turtles in South China by creating a children's book. As president of both her school's Mandarin, Art, and Environmental Clubs, Emily showed great creativity by combining her talents for this project. Not only did she research and write this story about a rescued sea turtle in South China, but Emily also illustrated and translated the book into Mandarin. Emily's maturity is demonstrated by the fact that she independently initiated contact with Hainan Normal University, a Chinese sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation organization in China to ensure the book's accuracy and make plans for its local distribution to children in Hainan. This project would not be the success that it is today if not for Emily's organized, ambitious, and thorough work ethic.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center's Conservation Department relies on teamwork, and Emily has been an invaluable member of our team. She is always willing to go above and beyond in all her duties. Her dedication and passion for conservation is evident in everything she does and with her drive I know she will do great things for sea turtle and ocean conservation.
Rising Sea Stars
We wanted to recognize all the hatchling nominees as they are 17 years or younger and have made significant contributions in marine conservation through volunteer related activities.
Emily & Josh Blume
I would like to recommend Emily (10) and Joshua (12) Blume for the Blue Hatchling Youth Award. They have done a tremendous amount work to raise awareness within their community about the impacts of marine debris and engaging others to help. Emily and Joshua were both inspired to start the contest after hearing about the extensive amount of balloons their father, Luke Blume saw floating in the waters offshore while out on the charter boat he captains in Berlin, Maryland. They started a competition called Blume’s Balloon Round Up as a way to protect marine animals that often mistake balloons for food or get entangled. The balloon collection is specifically focused on offshore debris.
They started the competition in the Delmarva area and it has spread up and down the east coast, from New York to the Bahamas. The competition winner is awarded with prizes all
donated by the community. They created a Facebook page to spread the news and have photos that capture the collection and recognize the # and person collecting. The siblings’ initial goal of bringing in 1,000 balloons was exceeded early on, and by the time the contest concluded Sept. 30, 2018 they’d collected 1,392 balloons. They had more than 160 people report the numbers of balloons they had collected during the course of the three-month contest in 2018. This year they currently have 921 balloon along with other marine debris collected as of August 14, 2019. Through this contest, they have collected 2,563 balloons since June of 2018.
Recently, balloons made the news when an Assateague Island wild pony ingested a balloon and the string was stuck hanging out of its mouth. The pony was able to pass the balloon without injuring itself. The Blume’s posted on their site and were able to continue to spread real examples of the concern. The siblings also took the time to visit Berlin Intermediate School in October of 2018 where they talked to fourth grade students about their campaign and the class used the balloons collected to make sculptures of sea creatures. They are also strong advocates against mass balloon releases and have used their platform to spread awareness of the impacts balloons have to sea life. Just recently in Queen Anne’s County, MD a bill banning the release of non-biodegradable balloons within the county. This is the first balloon ban proposed on the Eastern Shore and will be voted on by county commissioners on August 27th, 2019 thanks to the awareness that Blume’s siblings competition has provided to the community.
Their fundraising consist of shirt selling, all proceeds made from the t-shirt sales benefit the Murr Institute in Delaware as well as the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. They are also recognized by Conserve Wildlife in New Jersey and The Town of Ocean City, Maryland.
Miles was 6 in 2018 when he first watched Shark Week and was disturbed by how we treat our sharks and beyond that, our oceans, beaches, and waterways. He wanted to donate his piggy bank, all $13 of it, to save the sharks.
Miles decided though that $13 wasn't enough. He started Kids Saving Oceans, the first conservation lifestyle brand by kids, for kids. Miles sells shirts, hats, and stickers from recycled plastic and cotton scraps. He donates the proceeds to marine conservation non-profit organizations, like The Surfrider Foundation, Mission Blue, and Mote Marine Lab. In 2019, Miles has raised a little over $3,000 for marine conservation groups.
Not only is Miles raising money for marine non-profit groups, he's starting conversations with kids and grown-ups about how we can all be better stewards for our oceans. Miles implemented Earth Week at his school which culminated in a school-wide beach cleanup. He's presented to businesses, creative groups, and non-profit organizations about how every choice matters and you're never too young to make a difference. Miles has, and continues to meet, with politicians like Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in Washington, DC about laws and policies that can protect our oceans and the creatures that call it home.
I believe Miles would be an excellent recipient of the Blue Hatchling Youth Award. He may only be 7, but he is a leader with his words and his actions. He is helping his generation understand the problems they are inheriting and what they can, and must do, to address them.
Ella Grace Galaski-Rossen
Ella has been involved in marine conservation for over half of her life, since she was just four years old watching ocean documentaries with her parents instead of reading bedtime stories. She saw the movie Sharkwater, by Rob Stewart, who became her inspiration and her hero at a young age. Her avid curiosity took over and she couldn’t get enough of learning about sharks, their environments, their behaviors, as well as threats they face. In addition to visiting marine conservation organizations around North America, Ella takes initiative in her hometown in Ontario, Canada. Ella is involved with such organizations and groups as Sea Shepherd, Empty the Tanks, Nakawe Project, Sea Legacy, Team Sharkwater, and numerous other ocean conservation and climate change awareness groups both in the United States and Canada. Through her involvement, she not only directly impacts the marine environment through cleanups, and the advocacy for protective regulations, but she indirectly inspires and educates others to do the same. She regularly runs (with the help of her family and her community) shoreline cleanups, and participates in and advocates for the straw-free initiative, plastic-free movement, the fight against shark finning, and spreading awareness among youths and adults about the effects of climate change. Her efforts and advocacy have directly resulted in
measurable changes, including the passing of Canadian Bill S-203 to ban the captivity and breeding of cetaceans in Canada. In honor of Rob Stewart, Ella has also contributed significantly through awareness and the raising of public support, the passing of a Canadian Bill that has now banned the import and export of shark fins in Canada. Ella was recently chosen as the youngest (age 9) out of hundreds of youth to attend the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, for youth leading by example in the fight against global plastic pollution. At this bootcamp, youth were encouraged in their advocacy, and given further tools to expand their success and continue to grow their mission. With mentors and heroes like Jim Abernethy, Filipe DeAndrade, Rob Stewart and Sylvia Earle, Ella has told me that she plans to pursue oceanography and underwater film-making so she can help share and protect the world’s oceans alongside her generation, and for generations to come.
Outstanding Contributions: major role in the passing of Canadian Bill S-203 to ban the captivity and breeding of cetaceans in Canada, significant contributions to the passing of a Canadian Bill that has now banned the import and export of shark fins in Canada, local projects related to the elimination of single-use plastics and straws in local restaurants and events
Cori McWilliams is being nominated for the Blue Hatchling Youth Ward because I believe the sea turtle population on the east coast of Florida (and hopefully around the world!) is benefitting and thriving because of her conservation efforts.
Cori has given many hours to conservation efforts, partnering with multiple organizations in educating the public about the plight of sea turtles as well as taking part in hands-on activities to further the cause. By the end of elementary school, Cori was already a veteran of sharing her sea turtle knowledge (through speaking engagements and short films) to students and other groups. Cori keep current on state classes/trainings which allow her to provide hands-on help to sea turtles, including caring for and releasing sea turtle hatchlings as well as care and processing of juvenile and adult strandings. As an assistant for both nighttime sea turtle nesting walks and morning nest excavations, she fields questions from countless guests each season.
Seeing that the Indian River Lagoon is instrumental in the health of her local sea turtle population, Cori has made efforts to help restore the health of the Lagoon. Cori received a grant to make/distribute repurposed containers to collect used monofilament line and other debris; she held multiple workshops resulting in hundreds of local youth getting involved in the project through assembling and using the containers on beach and lagoon-side clean-ups. Her most recent project was acquiring grant funding to install an oyster shell “living dock” in the Indian River Lagoon to promote oyster recruitment and growth, resulting in natural filtering and cleaning of Lagoon waters by adult oysters (which can each filter up to 50 gallons of water daily). The project will continue with additional living docks being installed in the Lagoon.
Cori continued to further her education and experience by attending ongoing required trainings and sitting on multiple conservation-related youth councils. Cori has given well over 1000 hours to conservation efforts, educating/reaching thousands of people in the process. Her conservation club, Kids for the Sea, continued to see an increase in attendance, many of which are repeat guests. The number of sea turtles she has assisted and the number of guests she has reached is a true testament to her tireless efforts.
I believe Ryan should be considered as a recipient for this award because he has shown a continued passion and dedication to caring for the ocean and it’s amazing creatures through all of his work thus far and he will continue to inspire and motivate our future generations to want to help the ocean too.
Ryan has organized cleanups that have removed hundreds of pounds of trash that otherwise would have ended up in the ocean. Ryan has raised a little over $9,000.00 which was donated to various conservation organizations. He planted 2,000 sea oats and several mangroves to
help with local beach erosion. His speaking engagements over the years have motivated and inspired people to do their part in helping preserve our beautiful oceans. He wrote a book in 2012 called Puffy the Pufferfish Saves the ocean. His book is in several libraries across the country and in Canada. Ocean Conservancy purchased several hundred books which were sent to their donors and 50 additional books were purchased by a children’s theater group in California to use in their marine conservation program.
In 2017 Ryan was given permission by his school to help coordinate an Ocean Conservation summer camp. It was well-attended and so much fun. The kids made microfilament disposal tubes out of old tennis cans through the Stow It-Don’t Throw It, there was an ocean trash trivia cleanup and waterslide game, fossilized shark tooth mining with tooth identification, a mobile gaming truck where the kids played Endless Ocean, a surprise appearance by the Tampa Bay Rays mascot with photos and so much more. All of the snacks he planned were sea-themed and served with environmentally utensils and paper straws. In addition, he started a volunteer list to help with future events.
In conjunction with the summer camp Ryan held an online auction. He called or emailed several and through his efforts he garnered donations from companies including Tiffany Jewelers, Adidas Corporation, Guy Harvey Foundation, Autographed books by Pout-Pout Fish Author Deborah Diesen, Bote Boards, Bloomin Brands and so many more. He donated $2,000.00 to The Stow It-Don’t Throw It Organization from this auction!
In 2018 The Fishes Wishes made some sea-themed Halloween and Day of the Dead keychains. There is a large Day of the Dead festival local to where we live. Ryan made themed keychains like the Goblin Shark, vampire squid, amber-jack-o-lantern, ghost shrimp and more. He and his friends sold them at the festival and raised an additional $200.00.
At the end of 2018 Ryan started to make a sculpture out of one-time use plastic and beach trash found locally. His friend Enzo worked with Ryan to find the trash on the “forgotten islands”. Enzo helps to clean the islands with his organization O.N.E. (Ocean Needs Everyone) and they partnered together to clean and they both found really unusual pieces of trash that worked perfectly with Ryan’s sculpture.
After securing a ton of beach trash Ryan started to assemble his sculpture. A local restaurant heard about it and asked if he would want to do an unveiling party and ocean fundraiser on March 30th. He was so excited. Ryan got to sit with the owner of the restaurant and help plan the event. There was live music and some ocean organization came out to help support the event. The groups attending were Clearwater Marine Aquarium, O.N.E., Ocean Allies and Auburn Supply group. In addition, to raise money, Ryan went into every local restaurant and received donations of gift certificates. He also received items from ocean-friendly companies. Ryan held a raffle and silent auction with the certificates and items and raised $1,200.00 which he donated to the Ocean Conservancy.
Currently, Ryan is working on his second book, which is a factual book about the cool creatures that are more obscure which live in the ocean. He is also working on a second trash sculpture which is an angler fish, this sculpture will light up!
Ryan’s continued dedication to the ocean he loves so much is evident in his volunteer history. The films he writes are educational and inspiring. Speaking at The Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco and getting to talk about his work was an experience he will never forget. Ryan has spoken on three different occasions at The Stow It-Don’t Throw it annual summit in Sarasota, FL. He speaks in front of a couple hundred kids and hopes to be asked to speak about his work again in the future. He always says that the summit is amazing and he learns so much, he thinks it is awesome to be around other kids and teenagers that love the ocean as much as him.
Ryan is very excited to continue to work on his book, sell keychains and build more sculptures.
Barnes and Noble Clearwater has invited him back for a second book signing once his book is complete and he is working on getting it done so he can raise more money for conservation.
Ryan has supported marine life and marine life conservation since he was 5-years old and is motivated to continue to do so in the future. I appreciate you allowing me to nominate him for this award and really hope you consider him for this award!
Robin is the definition of a hardworking student driven to helping the environment. After moving to Palm Beach County just 2 months ago, he immediately started volunteering at Loggerhead Marine Life Center. He’s given so much time to educating the public about injured sea turtles. Additionally, he’s won multiple debate tournaments for his Original Oratory “No Excuse For Animal Abuse” where he exposed the horrendous dangers of Sea World. This further increased the awareness of Ocean Preservation and encouraged his audience to go to good organizations like LMC. He is a scholar athlete student with a 4.7 GPA and seriously deserves to be recognized for his passion to helping the environment as well as the ocean. Please consider him for this award it would make me so proud.