Meet the dynamic young people between the ages of 14 - 20 who were selected to participate in the 2016 Sea Youth Rise Up initiative in NYC. These individuals have demonstrated their passion for the ocean and have taken real action in their local communities to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our blue planet.
Baylee Ritter is a freshman at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois and has been instrumental in establishing several international service-learning programs pertaining to water conservation issues. She is one of the founders of the International Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program. The mission of the program is to provide communities with a proper method of pharmaceutical disposal. In 2012, her program was named by the United Nations Environmental Program as the number one student environmental program in the United States. This honor put the program on the world stage which allowed them to expand the P2D2 Program to twenty-seven U.S. states, as well as Turkey, Brazil and Paraguay. In 2013, Baylee was asked to be a keynote speaker at the United Nations Tunza International Youth Conference in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss steps youth can take towards water conservation. Baylee is also a guest writer for the United Nations Tunza Youth Magazine and ArKive magazine. Recently, she co-authored an informational student publication on biodiversity for the United Nations. In April of 2014, Baylee was also the keynote speaker on water preservation and the P2D2 program at the International Science and Arts Festival in Istanbul Turkey. She is also one of the cofounders of Operation Endangered Species which is a program working to bring back the endangered species of Alligator Snapping Turtles from the brink of extinction. Furthering her passion for the environment, Baylee is a member of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council. She is also a proud member of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. Baylee is a current Corporate Communications major at DePaul and hopes to work for a public relations firm in Social Responsibility Communications and Green Public Relations. She is extremely passionate about our environment, particularly in regards to water conservation, and she is excited to be involved in future innovative projects.
Dazja Dorsey is an 18 year old graduating senior from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute . She is currently a part of Aquarium on Wheels (A.O.W.), an after school work study program at The National Aquarium in Baltimore. She loves anything that has to do with the outdoors and protecting the environment . Dazja plans on continuing to work at the Aquarium after completing the program and accomplishing her dream of becoming a Marine Biologist .
NEW YORK, USA
Political change and societal change are intertwined. Ben May learned this when he worked as a paid intern on Congressman Tim Bishop’s 2014 reelection campaign. He is now determined to inspire others to bring about large-scale change through small-scale actions. To achieve this goal, he founded the Environmental Outreach club at his high school. The club organized and implemented the school’s recycling program, ran an annual beach cleanup and – most of all – encouraged fellow students to have a more sustainable lifestyle. It is dedicated to teaching students that without our fiscal support, environmentally unsustainable industries, like those who make one-use water bottles, will disappear. In 2015, Ben worked on the planning committee for Long Island’s first Youth Ocean Conservation Summit. This event was focused on impassioning high school students from throughout New York to protect nature; it provided them with the knowledge and resources required to make an impactful change in our relationship with the environment. For the past year, he has been working as an intern at County Legislator Sarah Anker’s office. There, Ben planned and orchestrated a recycling program for the Rocky Point Concert Series, which involved thousands of constituents. Ben is in his junior year at Mount Sinai High School. He is an A-team Ocean Bowl member, the president of the Environmental Outreach club and the president of his school’s Model United Nations club. He recently won the secretary general award at Global Classrooms International’s Model United Nations conference in New York City. In his free time, Ben likes SCUBA diving, juggling, playing guitar, hiking and going on road trips.
Laura’s biggest inspiration in life is Steve Irwin, who she met when she was six years old. He taught her how to want to have passion, and how to share it with others. When he died, Laura promised herself that she would help carry on his message of conservation through education. She recently completed her first year of college at Florida Atlantic University, pursuing a degree in marine biology with minors in nonprofit management and environmental science. She firmly believes that education is the most effective form of activism. She has been a co-chair for three youth programs at the Big Blue & You, under the fabulous Danni Washington, for two years. Last year, Laura participated in the 5th Blue Vision Summit, in Washington, DC. The final day of the summit was Healthy Oceans Hill Day, the largest lobby on Capitol Hill for ocean conservation in the history of the United States, when Laura and around 500 other activists from around the world lobbied for bills to protect the ocean. This year, members of the Big Blue & You youth programs and her attended the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in Sarasota, Fl. It was a phenomenal experience, and she loved to witness her friends and teammates grow and learn about how to save our world’s oceans. She is incredibly grateful and lucky to be doing something that she loves at such a young age, and one of the best parts of the job is being able to help my peers achieve the same thing. “This planet is supposed to be run by us one day, so we need to make sure we actually have something left to inherit.”
Gabriella Schauber is highly passionate about the health of the oceans and the welfare of the animals that inhabit it. Gabriella is currently a 4th year university student studying Applied Animal Biology at the University of British Columbia, and will be pursuing graduate studies with the plan of practicing Animal Law. Gabriella’s interest and passion for ocean and animal welfare has led her to participation in numerous national animal welfare and ocean conservation conferences, influenced her to become an active volunteer and staff member of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre in numerous capacities, and most recently successfully complete an undergraduate essay regarding animal welfare and public policy. Gabriella is honoured to have been selected to represent the Vancouver Aquarium as part of the Sea Youth Rise Up Delegation and is looking forward to helping develop youth driven solutions to address the issues facing our oceans.
Simeon Bethel is a 14 year old boy that lives on the island of Eleuthera, The Bahamas that has the ocean for blood. He has spent the last three years attending the Deep Creek Middle School that is 50 miles away from his house. His school has been an outlet for Sim to go to different conferences, become an ambassador of the ocean and play many vital roles to his school’s Eco-friendly success. For the past three years, Simeon has traveled to California to attend the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solution Summit that brings people from all over the world that are passionate about the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans together to share everyone’s efforts toward the issue. The Bahamas Plastic Movement is an organization that also travels from The Bahamas to attend the summit in California. Along with attending the Summit via his school, Simeon also is an ambassador for The Bahamas Plastic Movement that has been one of the faces of the plastic fight in The Bahamas and at the Summit. Simeon is the president of the Deep Creek Middle School where they are currently in the process of getting reusable water bottles for everyone on campus, installing water dispensers in every room and changing the way dumps are operated on the island. Simeon plans to continue his conservation work as a future career path, as he is passionate about creating business with an environmental focus. “At this point in time, I am leaning towards the business world to help create viable solutions to plastic pollution that are profitable and sustainable, but, most importantly, it is a must that I live near the ocean!”, states Simeon.
Lindsy Myers is seventeen years old and lives in Seattle, Washington. She has grown up with the ocean just minutes away, but it took a study abroad to Australia for her to realize just how passionate she is about every aspect. As she and her host family drove along the Great Ocean Road, she couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the deep blue ocean that continued for hours. She began, in that moment, to wonder just how much humans were impacting this delicate ecosystem. She was shocked at what she found and knew that she had to do something about it. Just a week later she interviewed, through Skype, the Seattle Aquarium to be a part of the Youth Ocean Advocate program upon my arrival back to the United States. She was accepted and since then have joined Seattle Youth Climate Action Network as part of the Youth Leadership Committee and even helped plan a Youth Ocean Conservation Summit. The opportunities that she has had are so readily available to youth and important for the future of our world’s oceans.