Ben May - Mt. Sinai, New York

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. He is currently working on a research paper that uses a cost-benefit analysis to assess the feasibility of a county-wide ban on plastic grocery bags. 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 Johnson - Boca Raton, Florida 

The oceans have always been a large part of my life. I spent three years of my childhood in Southern California, whale watching in season, and spending most weekends at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  My biggest inspiration in life is Steve Irwin, who I have the pleasure of meeting when I was just six years old. He taught me how to want to have passion, and how to share it with others. When he died I promised myself that I would help carry on his message of conservation through education. I’ve always known that I wanted to study the ocean, and I can proudly say that now I am doing just that. I recently completed my first year of college at Florida Atlantic University, perusing a degree in marine biology with minors in nonprofit management and environmental science. I firmly believe that education is the most effective form of activism. I have been a cochair for three youth programs at the Big Blue & You, under the fabulous Danni Washington, for two years. Being involved with the organization has lead to some amazing experiences. Last year, I 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 myself and around 500 other activists from around the world lobbied for bills regarding protecting what we love. I am incredibly honored to have been a part of it. This year, members of the Big Blue & You youth programs and I attended the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit in Sarasota, Fl. It was not only phenomenal just to be there, but also to witness my friends and teammates grow and learn about how to save our world’s oceans. I am incredibly grateful and lucky to be doing something that I love 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.

Dazja Dorsey -  Baltimore, Maryland

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 .




Baylee Ritter - Chicago, Illinois

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. As one of the founders and student leaders of the International Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program, she has worked directly with students, police stations and pharmacies around the world to dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medication. The mission of the program is to provide communities with a proper method of pharmaceutical disposal that effectively reduces the misuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals, as well as, ensures the quality of our water and wildlife for future generations. In 2012, her program was named by the United Nations Environmental Program as the number one student environmental program in the United States and the third best program in the world in Gothenburg, Sweden. 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. In her spare time, Baylee is a guest writer for the United Nations Tunza Youth Magazine, as well as, for ArKive magazine, which documents the endangered species of our world. 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 with the State of Illinois and a network of schools to bring back the endangered species of Alligator Snapping Turtles from the brink of extinction. This past year the program was able to release one hundred turtles into the wild with 100% success rate so far! In 2015, Baylee was also a key member of the Lil Miss Atrazine Project, a collaboration between Illinois high schools and the University of Nebraska, Omaha to test the effects and levels of atrazine, a common farming herbicide, in the Mississippi. This project is looking to spread awareness to local and national farming organizations of the harmful effects their use of pesticides are having on waterways. Furthering her passion for the environment, Baylee is a member of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council where she and other youth from around the United States have the unique opportunity to provide input and ideas to the SeaWorld & Busch Garden staff and partners regarding conservation initiatives, education programs, and strategies for reaching and engaging other young people on a national scale. Baylee is also a proud member of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board which is charged with helping State Farm design and implement a $5 million-a-year signature service-learning initiative to address issues important to State Farm and communities across the United States. 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.

Simeon Bethel - Eleuthra, The Bahamas

Simeon Bethel is a 14 year old boy that lives on the island of Eleuthera, The Bahamas that has the ocean for blood. Having lived on an island his entire life, Simeon is an ocean enthusiast! Simeon has spent his last three years attending the Deep Creek Middle School that is 50 miles away from his house. This daily commute for Sim easily became nothing but a drive down the road since at his school, he gets to be in the ocean, learn about it and protect it. Protecting the environment is something that Sim learned very quickly at his school. Everything revolved around being plastic-free and keeping trash out the oceans and everywhere it isn’t supposed to be. This is now deeply instilled in Simeon due to his love for the ocean. Going to that school has made 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. At his green-flag certified school, 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, install water dispensers in every room and change the way the dumps are operated on the island. Simeon’s passion for the ocean and the environment extends into his future career path, as he is passionate about creating business with an environmental focus.  “At this point in time, I’m 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 - Seattle, Washington

Hello! My name is Lindsy Myers, I am seventeen years old, and I live in Seattle, Washington. I have grown up with the ocean just minutes away, but it took a study abroad to Australia for me to realize just how passionate I am about every aspect. As my host family and I drove along the Great Ocean Road, I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the deep blue ocean that continued for hours. I began, in that moment, to wonder just how much humans were impacting this delicate ecosystem. I was shocked at what I found and knew I had to do something about it. Just a week later I interviewed, through Skype, the Seattle Aquarium to be a part of the Youth Ocean Advocate program upon my arrival back to the United States. I 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 I have had are so readily available to youth and important for the future of our world’s oceans.

Gabriella Schauber - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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 has always been driven to learn and her interest and passion for the oceans and animal welfare has led her to participate in and attend numerous conferences, such as the Coastal America Student Summit (2013), the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Animal Welfare Conference (2015), and the Compassionate Conservation Conference (2015). Gabriella has been and continues to be involved with the Vancouver Aquarium in numerous capacities – most recently as a 5 th year returning rescue and advanced volunteer at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and 4th year returning staff in the Aquarium’s education department. Additionally, Gabriella continues to share her passion with others, and is currently acting as a mentor in a mentorship program, working with a 13 year-old student who shares a passion for marine life. Gabriella is very much looking forward to representing the Vancouver Aquarium at the summit and being part of the Sea Youth Rise Up Delegation!