Rising to the challenge, teenagers from across the country designed and led creative campaigns in their communities to tackle the marine litter problem as part of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Program’s Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition, supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
Bow Seat and NOAA are proud to recognize the 2018 winners, whose campaigns met the Competition goals of:
- Educating the public about marine debris,
- Inspiring people to change their behavior, and
- Engaging others in an activity that reduces or prevents marine debris
Shelby O’Neil, a student at San Benito High School in San Juan Bautista, California, won the Competition’s Gold award for her campaign, “No Straw November.” Shelby raised awareness about a pervasive form of marine litter – single-use plastic straws – by challenging individuals worldwide to refuse them for an entire month. She also contacted corporate executives to encourage them to eliminate their use of plastic straws in their business operations, successfully convincing Alaska Airlines, Dignity Health, and Farmer Brothers to do so. Through her leadership, Shelby is helping to prevent tens of millions of plastic straws from potentially ending up in the ocean every year.
Many Competition participants, recognizing the importance of activating the next generation of environmental stewards, focused their efforts on educating their peers and younger students about the marine litter problem. Other winners raised awareness and inspired action around the issue by hosting art shows, leading creative upcycling projects, presenting to city officials, tabling at community events, and organizing campus and beach clean-ups. Visit the Bow Seat website to view all of the competition winners and learn more about their projects.
“We are proud to honor our Competition winners for recognizing their role as changemakers and engaging their community members to protect our ocean and waterways,” said Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat. “Even though humans are the cause of our marine debris crisis, these teenagers are demonstrating that we can also play the role of problem-solvers. Through creative leadership and the creative arts, these young activists are fighting for the environmental protections and social progress that they deserve.”
If you are interested in joining the rising wave of youth activism for our ocean, visit the Bow Seat website to learn more about the 2019 Competition, which is open now through June 17, 2019 – middle and high school students from around the world are now eligible to participate!