“I want to be sure I’m making a difference. Shark conservation is the way I think I can make an impact,” Derrick Whitcomb told me in an interview for Project Blue Hope.
As a RSMAS graduate student and founder of the marine conservation media site, ProjectBlueHope.com, I’m passionate about discussing with the younger generation their connection with the marine environment.
I’ve often wondered, “Are there a few key ingredients necessary for presenting marine conservation as cool in the eyes of the younger generation? And how could we make a conservation-mindset the next big trend?”
Through Project Blue Hope, my friend and fellow RSMAS graduate student, Jennah Caster and I created a short film aimed at understanding why and when kids care about the ocean and what they are doing to protect it.
One of our interviewees for the film was 13-year old Derrick Whitcomb. Derrick is passionate about the ocean and following in the Jewish tradition, will be having a Bar Mitzvah.
An important part of the tradition is doing mitzvoth, or good deeds, and taking part in Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. Derrick’s mitzvah service project is to raise awareness for shark conservation by selling “RESPECT” wristbands for the UM – R.J. Dunlap Adopt-a-Shark Marine Conservation Program.
Derrick, an enterprising young entrepreneur, carries around shark conservation business cards and created a website, DerrickWhitcomb.com. So far, Derrick has raised over $1,300 for shark conservation and Project Blue Hope is working hard to help him get to his goal of $2,000 for a shark satellite tag. He is also organizing a local Ocean Conservancy coastal clean up.
Derrick was elated when approached about being in Project Blue Hope’s film. As the founder of this small marine conservation site, it was both fascinating and inspiring for me to experience the influence our small recognition of Derrick’s good deeds had on him.
Derrick is only 13, but he’s an inspiring example of what young adults can achieve when they feel recognized and supported.
This blog post is part of a series of stories written by RSMAS graduate students enrolled in the Spring 2012 Scientific Communications (RSM 545) course.
MPS Student – Marine Conservation
Founder, Project Blue Hope