Bow Seat Announces Winners of 2018 Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition
September 25, 2018

Today, Bow Seat announced the winners of its Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition, which challenged middle and high school students from across the country to design and lead creative campaigns in their school or community that teach others and inspire action to reduce or prevent 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 of one of the most pervasive forms 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.

“My project has shown me that I have the power to make positive change,” said O’Neil. “I have seen first-hand people ask for ‘no straws,’ and this has brought me so much optimism. ‘No Straw November’ became so much bigger than one person – it became a global movement.”

Many Competition winners, recognizing the importance of activating environmental stewards now, 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.

View all 2018 Competition winners >

“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 litter 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.”

Bow Seat presented Shelby with a $5,000 cash award for her Gold-winning campaign. The Silver Award winner received $2,500; Bronze Award winners, $1,000; Honorable Mention Award winners, $500; and Notable Award winners, $100. Bow Seat also presented $750 Sponsor Appreciation Awards to caring adults who were nominated by Competition participants as someone who provided invaluable support and assistance to their campaign.

Bow Seat’s Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition was launched with a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, which supports projects that use outreach and education to inspire people to reduce and prevent marine debris. These projects aim to change behavior, especially among youth, and to provide them with opportunities to engage in active, hands-on experiences that deepen their understanding of the marine debris problem.

The 2019 Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition is open now through June 17, 2019 – middle and high school students from around the world are now eligible to participate.

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Bow Seat Announces Winners of 2018 Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition