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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Greenville, North Carolina, USA

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Greenville, North Carolina, USA
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Sokol9497



Registered: November 2010
City/Town/Province: Winterville
Posts: 1
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My love for sea turtles and a willingness to dedicate large amounts of my time to their preservation has presented me with many opportunities, challenges and life lessons. Five years ago, at the age of eight, I believed that “one person CAN make a difference” and now more than ever, I know that hard work and perseverance pays off. It is my mission to help save the world’s sea turtle population and to inspire other youths to act upon their dream.
For five years, I have dedicated hundreds of hours to my education and awareness program, Help Them L.A.S.T. – Love A Sea Turtle. My goals, since I began in the summer of 2006, have been to raise awareness for the plight of the endangered sea turtles. I continue to reach out to others to let them know that our actions on land create reactions in the ocean – good and bad. I was originally inspired into action after a visit to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center located in Topsail Island, North Carolina. The sight of wounded and sick turtles was heartbreaking. The eventual release of those turtles that could survive again in the wild inspired me to think…what can I do to make a difference?
My initial goals in 2006 were to raise and donate one thousand dollars to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, volunteer for a sea turtle beach patrol annually and help educate and create awareness. Major fundraising efforts have been the baking and selling of turtle-shaped sugar cookies and fresh lemonade. I have since added coffee, t-shirts and a 5k race. My goals have annually met and exceeded my expectations. One idea has turned into five plus years of volunteering and a non-profit organization.
In late summer of 2007, I added coffee with my sugar cookies to attract adults to my cause. A visit to the roasting facility for Joe Van Gogh Coffee in Hillsborough, North Carolina led to the creation of our own “Sea Turtle” blend of coffee. At the facility, we blended beans and my parents tasted coffee. I got to approve the aroma and final bean selection. Fair trade and organic were important factors in my final choice. Joe Van Gogh agreed to donate 10% of net profits of the Sea Turtle blend to the Sea Turtle Hospital every year. I sell coffee at every event I set up and attend. From East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Cornerstone Farmers Market, Uptown Umbrella Market, University Book Exchange and The Oakwood School, I think I have about covered Greenville, North Carolina.
In the spring of 2008, Joe Van Gogh took notice of my local sales and the buzz I had created around my Sea Turtle Blend. They offered to feature the sea turtle blend publicly and tell my story. The marketing team at Joe Van Gogh created an exciting logo and custom label. The big “public” launch for Sea Turtle coffee was in May of 2009. I was asked to set up my information display at Cup of Joe and Weaver Street Market in Chapel Hill. The promotion was held all day. It was a big hit! The Sea Turtle Blend was a top seller in the Whole Foods Stores in NC/SC for Joe Van Gogh during the spring and summer. It is listed on their web page as of today as one of their top ten selling brands. My collaboration with Joe Van Gogh Coffee to market and sell Sea Turtle Blend coffee resulted in a donation of $393.50 for 2009 to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. Currently, Sea Turtle Blend is ranked number six on the Joe Van Gogh web store.
In March of 2009, I worked with my cousin, a recent college graduate and web site designer, and launched my official web site, www.loveaseaturtle.com. I learned about domain registration, site hosting and how to update and manage my webpage.
I was nominated for Oceana’s 2009 Ocean’s Hero Award and was a top 8 finalist. In June, I was able to go to Washington, D.C. for the purpose of meeting the Oceana staff and touring their Global Headquarters. They called back in August for a phone interview and proposed collaborating on a holiday gift package to be called “The Casey Kit”. I would be a spokesperson for their holiday “Adopt A Creature” program. Additionally, in April 2010, my mother and I flew to New York City and I filmed Oceana’s public service announcement for “World Oceans Day” which aired in June 2010 on The Discovery Channel. “Take The Pledge” was a successful one hundred thousand dollar matching funds campaign for Oceana.
On April 25, 2010, I held the first annual “Love A Sea Turtle” 5k and Nature Walk in my community as a grand finale for Earth Week. Not only were we running and walking to raise money, but we also raised public awareness with environmental exhibits, displays and activities. I sought sponsors for prizes and learned about organizing races and larger fundraising events. The 5k turtle run developed as a result of my participation on my schools cross-country team last summer and fall. I ran in several local races and it sparked the idea for an Earth Day event. Not only did we work together to organize a trail run, but now my school has a new cross-country course to use. A new trail was plotted, plowed and cut at a 200-acre nature conservancy and science center. A Time for Science was and is thrilled to be part of this Earth Week event and is already talking about next year’s race. The 2nd Annual Help Them L.A.S.T. race is scheduled for April 2nd, 2011. We will kick-off Earth Month.
Every summer, I have volunteered at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. This summer was a significant milestone for me. I applied for and was chosen to participate in the Junior Internship Program at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. I worked/volunteered from June 7th to June 20th and it was one of the most rewarding and educational experiences of my young life. To date, I have raised over $10,000 for my charity and donated over $5,500 to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. I was thrilled to be able to give the hospital another $1,000 check at the conclusion of my junior internship this summer.
August 15th to August 19th, 2010 was again a high point in my recent summer. Sean Duffy, teacher and marine adventurer, contacted me through my website and asked me to chaperone and mentor 22 of his 4th-6th graders from Waples Mill Elementary in Fairfax County, Virginia. We participated in marine science activities all week.
Melissa Spain, CEO for The Greater Greenville Community Foundation, was instrumental in allowing Love A Sea Turtle – Help Them L.A.S.T. to attain a non-profit 501(c)(3) status under their umbrella as a pass-through. Over the years, she has seen articles about my work and was open to helping me gain access to larger donations and grants. Without a tax-deductible exemption, it is nearly impossible to attract large donations or gain access to grants. Love A Sea Turtle was formally given tax-deductible status on July 20th. My local newspaper, The Daily Reflector, our local NBC television affiliate, WITN, and Eastern Carolina Parent Magazine have featured my story along with my ongoing efforts. The strong local media support and visibility has helped us to attract dozens of volunteers when we have needed them.
My experiences this summer gave me many ideas and I again came home and got to work. I asked my father to assist me in creating an educational DVD and help me practice my public speaking. I have contacted local schools and have been able to spread my message to several hundred students from pre- kindergarten to sixth grade. Currently, I am seeking as many opportunities as possible to get in front of students and civic groups.
The impact of my five year grassroots work combined with literally thousands of other sea turtle and environmental activists can be measured by the tremendous increase in local and worldwide turtle beach patrols and watches, local, national and international legislative initiatives, worldwide attention and some gains in nesting populations. My website has had over 30K hits and that is just since August 2010 when I added the site counter. Between Oceana, Joe Van Gogh Coffee, my websites, articles, awards and bloggers, my message has reached hundreds of thousands of people. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center will move into a new facility this summer. I have donated and volunteered annually and am certain my efforts and message have helped to build the new facility, create environmental awareness and inspire other youths to act upon their dreams. “One person can make a difference.”


END OF ESSAY



Post-project Interview with NWP:


WHERE DO YOU ATTEND OR PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE AND WHAT IS YOUR FIELD OF STUDY/INTEREST?


I would like to study Marine Biology and/or Oceanography at N.C. State, East Carolina University or UNC-Wilmington.


HOW WILL YOU USE THIS SCHOLARSHIP TOWARD YOUR EDUCATION?


I will apply this scholarship towards the purchase of my college textbooks.


HOW ELSE WILL YOU BE PAYING FOR YOUR ACADEMIC AND RELATED EXPENSES WHILE IN COLLEGE?


I will continue to seek and apply for academic scholarships and work part-time.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE EDUCATIONAL, CAREER, AND LIFE GOALS?


I will pursue at least a Master's Degree and I would like to be a Marine Biologist. I want to continue to help the endangered sea turtles and continue to inspire others to make a difference in this world.


WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT MADE POSSIBLE BY THE APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE?


The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative provides an opportunity to showcase environmental work and efforts. In doing so, we can hope others are inspired into action.


HOW HAS YOUR APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE PROJECT ENRICHED YOUR LIFE?


This project has allowed me to inspire and reach others to make a difference in some way. My project information reached out to hundreds of people. I want others to find their passion and do something to help our planet.


WHY DO YOU FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AN ACTIVE STEWARD OF THE ENVIRONMENT NOW AND IN THE FUTURE?


I feel it is very important to raise awareness for our ocean creatures and preserve the earth's resources for future generations. I am dedicated to saving the world's sea turtle population, inspiring youth to get involved and giving others the opportunity to have the experiences I have had through my summer aquatic science camps.
Date: November 30, 2010 Views: 10561 File size: 30.0kb, 2424.5kb : 3264 x 2448
Hours Volunteered: 500
Volunteers: 30
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 13 & 10 to 70
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