The 2023 Ocean Awareness Contest – Climate Heroes in Action – encouraged students to celebrate the work of countless everyday heroes fighting to make the world more habitable and just in the face of human-induced climate change. Stay tuned for the winners announcement in November!
“The large numbers of people, groups, organizations, and advocates that stand strong for the cause give me hope.” Kaitlyn Ha, BOW SEAT STUDENT ARTIST
Ben and Ciara are the co-founders of Going Green Media, which highlights some of the world’s most impactful solutions to the climate crisis, and the incredible people behind these projects. By engaging audiences of all ages through the power of positive climate storytelling, Going Green Media’s goal is to provide hope for a greener future and empower everyone to take action for the planet.
- Our Projects | Going Green Media
- Blog | Going Green Media
- Going Places With People: Influencers Ben And Ciara On Filming Green Projects That Inspire Action | Travel and Leisure Asia
Aniya Butler is a spoken-word poet and leader at Youth vs. Apocalypse, a youth climate action group uplifting the voices of people of color and standing up for environmental justice. She’s helped to organize climate strikes with tens of thousands of attendees.
Gigi Cam is an environmental lawyer and the Co-Founder and CEO of the Earthly Institute. With the Earthly Institute team, she educates an international community of climate activists to empower them to take meaningful action on climate change. Gigi aims to bridge the gap between the law and science at the international level for the major environmental issues that we face today.
- Earthly Institute: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn
- Earthly Education: Instagram, TikTok, Twitter
- Gigi: Instagram
Jasilyn Charger is a Land Defender and community organizer youth advocate for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She has been on the frontlines for six years battling pipelines, protecting and advocating for Native American and LGBTQ rights. Currently she is supporting a local movement for MMIW with the Women Warriors Society opposing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. – Earth Guardians
Website: Jasilyn Charger
Kristy Drutman is the founder of Brown Girl Green, an online space for action & healing in the face of climate doom. Drutman is also the founder of the Green Jobs Board, a space for people who are looking for environmental jobs that prioritize racial justice.
Nina Gbor is an award-winning sustainability advocate, eco stylist, ethical fashion educator, and the founder of Eco Styles. Nina has a master’s degree in International Development and runs sustainable restyling workshops, guest lectures at universities, and hosts clothes swaps to educate and help individuals and communities take action towards a healthier fashion industry.
- On trimming our fashion carbon footprint and climate change
- Exposing fashion’s Jedi mind trick
- Climate change has the biggest impact on women but how can we fix it?
Brigitta Gunawan leads hands-on experiences through science-based programs such as the 30×30 Youth Ocean Conference, coral reef and mangrove restoration efforts, and school-wide ocean education campaigns in Indonesia and beyond. She is the founder of 30×30 Indonesia and has shared her work and story on world stages including the United Nations Ocean Conference, the Asia Parks Congress, and the UNLEASH Global Innovation Lab.
Website: Brigitta Maria Andrea Gunawan
- Rewriting the Future: Marine Protected Areas and 30×30 | Happy Eco News
- Brigitta Maria Andrea Gunawan | National Geographic’s Explorer Directory
- The 2023 Ocean Award Winners | BOAT International
Serag Heiba is a 21-year-old climate advocate, writer, and educator from Alexandria, Egypt pursuing a degree in Energy and Environmental Engineering in Hong Kong. Serag works with the student-led ThinkOcean Society, conducts research for SeaTrust Institute, and co-founded and organized the Hong Kong Climate Emergency Summit, a two-day conference that brought together 70 delegates and 17 speakers to advance climate action.
- Barred from the Climate Conversation | Green European Journal
- Serag Heiba Wants You to Know About Climate Inequity
- A New Toolkit for Engaging Youth in Ocean Health and Conservation | OCTO
Isaias Hernandez is an Environmental Educator who uses his platform, Queer Brown Vegan, to support those navigating the environmental world. They focus on creating accessible resources that center the intersectional nature of the climate crisis.
Álvaro Herrero is the internationally recognized underwater photographer and scuba diver behind Mekan Photography. His photographs have been published in scientific journals and with various environmental organizations.
The Society of German Nature Photographers
- 2017 “Surrounded” Underwater world, Highly commended
- 2018 “Reflection” Underwater world, Highly commended
- 2020 “Fighting no matter what” Men and Nature, Runner Up
- 2021 “Playground” Underwater World, Highly commended
Mangrove Action Project
Underwater Photographer of the Year
- 2021 “Upside down” Wide angle, Commended
- 2023 “Hopeless” Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year
Santi Photo Awards
- 2021 “Interspecific interaction” Underwater Worlds, Runner Up
- 2023 “Salmon run” Underwater Worlds, Highly commended
- 2023 “Hopeless” Man and Nature, Highly commended
Nicole Horseherder is Diné (Navajo) and executive director of Tó Nizhóní Ání (“Beautiful Water Speaking”), which works to protect the waters of Dinétah, her tribal homeland in the Black Mesa region (Dził Yijiin) of Navajo Nation. – Climate Reality Project
Photo Credit: Darcy Padilla
Carlee Jackson is a shark scientist and marine turtle specialist based in Florida. She organizes with Black in Marine Science (BIMS) to amplify Black voices in marine conservation. She co-founded Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS) in June 2020 to increase diversity within shark sciences.
Amy Keller founded Climate Candy, turning fruits and vegetables into tasty, plant-based candy. She uses perfectly edible produce that isn’t good-looking enough to make it to store, saving it from ending up in a landfill and releasing methane.
- Food waste is a huge climate problem. A new candy has a sweet solution in time for Halloween
- Restoring The Health Of The Planet And Its People Through Climate Candy
Sophia Kianni is an Iranian-American activist, a student at Stanford University, and the youngest person to serve as a United Nations advisor. She is the founder and executive director of Climate Cardinals, an international nonprofit translating climate information into 100+ languages. She has been named VICE Media’s youngest Human of the Year, a National Geographic Young Explorer, among Business Insider’s Climate Action 30, one of Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21, and a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree.
Website: Sophia Kianni
- Meet Sophia Kianni, the Irani-American climate activist who is trying to change the world | Cosmopolitan Middle East
- Language shouldn’t be a barrier to climate action | TED Talk
- Forbes 30 Under 30 – Social Impact
Silvia López Chavez is a painter who creates community-focused, brightly colored murals to ignite conversations and inspire connection. She is a Neighborhood Salon Luminary at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and her work is visible at the Peabody Essex Museum, MIT, Harvard University, Twitter, Google and Northeastern University.
- Artist creates commissioned mural at the Peabody Essex Museum to raise awareness about climate change
- Rise by Silvia López Chavez
- Art for the People: The Earth – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China
Website: Silvia López Chavez
Xiuhtezcatl Martínez is an indigenous hip hop artist and climate activist. He served as the 2020-2021 director of Earth Guardians, an environmental nonprofit committed to youth leadership in environmental justice spaces.
Oluwaseyi Moejoh cofounded U-recycle Initiative Africa, through which she has engaged over 10,000 young people across Nigeria and 11 African countries in promoting a circular economy. She is a law student at the University of Lagos, a Contributing Editor at OH-Wake Magazine, a Youth Representative of the Captain Planet Foundation and won the 2022 Diana Award.
- How Nigeria’s Oluwaseyi Moejoh Is Spreading Conservation Activism Across Africa and Beyond | Smithsonian Voices
- Oluwaseyi P Moejoh | National Geographic’s Explorer Directory
- Top 40 Teen Leaders in the World, Oluwasey Moejoh | We Are Family Foundation
- Oluwaseyi Moejoh feature on CNN
Website: Tiara Moore
Vanessa Nakate is a climate justice activist and the first Fridays For Future striker in Uganda. She is the author of A Bigger Picture and founded the Rise Up Climate Movement, spearheaded the Save the Congo Rainforest campaign, and started the Vash Green Schools Project, which aims to install solar panels on all schools in Uganda. In 2020, Vanessa was named a Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals.
- ‘Africa is on the frontlines but not the front pages’: Vanessa Nakate on her climate fight | The Guardian
- Vanessa Nakate and Mary Robinson: The global opportunity to accelerate Africa’s sustainable future | TED Talk
- Vanessa Nakate Is on the TIME100 Next 2021 List | TIME
Julia Lara Navarrete is a young Mexican woman who fell in love with the Pacific Ocean thanks to summer trips to the beach throughout her childhood. She recently finished her undergraduate degree in Oceanology at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, where she found a home at the MexCal (Monitoring Ecosystems Across the Californias) research group. With MexCal, Julia Lara works to understand the effects of marine heatwaves in kelp forests at their southern distribution limit.
- Julia Lara Navarrete | MexCal
- A New Toolkit for Engaging Youth in Ocean Health and Conservation | OCTO
Goran N’Diaye is the director of the Kaydara agro-ecological farm in Senegal, where he now trains young Senegalese farmers on ecologically friendly farming practices. By using permaculture, he created an oasis in a desert.
Maynard Okereke, also known as Hip Hop M.D., is a science communicator committed to diversifying STEM and making it more accessible through entertaining content.
- How Maynard Okereke Made Himself Whole as the Hip-Hop Doc | INDI
- Giving Science Its Rap | Bow Seat Deep Dive Series
Tré and Akira are the directors of PangeaSeed Foundation, a global nonprofit empowering individuals and communities to create meaningful change for the oceans through S.E.A – Science, Education, and #ARTivism. Through their groundbreaking Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans public art program, PangeaSeed has created over 500 educational, ocean advocacy murals in 19 countries.
- How The Future Of Shark Conservation Lies In The Nexus Of Science And Art
- Murals arrive with a message for Boston: It’s time to act on ocean conservation
Kevin J. Patel has over a decade of experience advocating for a sustainable and equitable world. He established the Youth Climate Commission and founded OneUpAction International, a non-profit organization that supports and empowers young people to implement and accelerate climate solutions in their communities. Kevin is a UN Togetherband Ambassador and serves on numerous environmental boards and councils.
Website: KEVIN J PATEL
- Kevin Patel on Founding OneUpAction and Battling Climate Change | Men’s Health
- Meet Kevin Patel: NowThis Next 2021 Honoree
- Kevin J. Patel | National Geographic’s Explorer Directory
- YouTube playlist
Jill Pelto is an artist and science communicator who uses data in her paintings to show environmental changes, like glacier mass trends, sea level rise, renewable energy, and forest fires. She has worked with 100+ K-12 classrooms to bring her data-art curriculum to teach climate change.
- Website: Jill Pelto
- Illustrated Graphs: Using Art to Enliven Scientific Data | Science Friday
Leah Penniman has over 20 years of experience as a soil steward and food sovereignty activist. Leah founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011, with goals of farming in an anti-racist and regenerative way.
- Farming While Black
- Soul Fire Farm’s Leah Penniman Explains Why Food Sovereignty Is Central in the Fight for Racial Justice | Vogue
- A Day at Soul Fire Farm | The Seeds of Ancestors
Photo Credit: Jamel Mosely
Venkatesh (Venky) Raghavendra is a social entrepreneur with over 35 years of philanthropy and community-building experience, empowering communities, enabling change through media advocacy, and bringing voice to stakeholders often forgotten. He has actively engaged with local communities across the globe, built partnerships and worked with social entrepreneurs to promote innovations and entrepreneurial ideas. Venky is currently working with Safe Water Network, and the RoundGlass Foundation.
Website: Venkatesh Raghavendra
- The big thirst | Deccan Herald
- Move, but gently | Deccan Herald
- Opinion: Fixing water fixes gender parity | Devex
- The Global Clean Water Challenge: How Micro-utilities Offer a Solution | Knowledge at Wharton
Idea Reid (ee-day-ah) is a 19 year old student at Barnard College, dancer, and activist from Staten Island. She co-founded an environmental justice club at her high school, leading rallies, workshops, and climate justice teach-ins with the former NYC Director of Sustainability. Idea fights for climate policy as an intern at the Climate Museum, brings attention to the injustice facing Staten Island’s waterfront as a member of the Environmental Justice Coalition, and conveys her passion for people and the earth through art as a member of the Young Lordes Collective.
- Environmental Justice on the Waterfront
- “With the Sea” Climate Panel | The Climate Museum
- The Forgotten People of a Forgotten Borough: Environmental Racism on the North Shore of Staten Island (Page 31) | NYPL Teen Voices
- If Not Now, When
Social Media: Instagram
Lisa Reindorf is an architect, artist, and environmental activist. She considers research, education, and environmental action as a key part of her artwork. She uses her architectural background to incorporate data into her art, focusing on sea level rise and cities.
- Website: Lisa Reindorf
- Florida’s Climate Crisis Inspires Artists Across the Nation | Miami New Times
- Reindorf at Galatea | Artscope Magazine
Sean Russell is the founder of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (YOCS), which equips young people with the knowledge, tools and funds to launch solutions-oriented ocean conservation projects in communities around the world. Sean also supports youth advocates as the Associate Director of Youth Engagement and Partnerships at EarthEcho International.
- Sean: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter
- Earth Echo: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook
- YOCS: Instagram, Facebook
Danni Washington is a science communicator, art advocate, TV host, and ocean activist. She is the first African-American woman to host her own science TV series. She also leads Mocha Mermaid, The Big Blue & You, and Sea Youth Rise Up.
Website: Danni Washington
Dr. Katharine Wilkinson is the bestselling author of All We Can Save and the co-founder of the All We Can Save Project, whose mission is “to nurture the leaderful climate community we need for a life-giving future.”
Website: Katherine Wilkinson
Photo Credit: Ben Brinker