Category Archives: 2017

iPrep Academy Kids ‘Get It’

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Even thought it’s summer, the last month and a half for me and The Sink or Swim Project have been very busy. A blur on most days really with so much to do it reminds me of a song from the play Hamilton, ‘writing like you’re running out of time’. In fact, as I type this blog entry I am sitting in the airport to head back to New York for an incredible project that I will be able to tell you about very soon.

But before I head back to the Big Apple, I just have to share with you one of the very best experiences I had at a school when I was fortunate to speak at iPrep Academy, a magnet school that focuses on teaching in a technology-rich environment., just before the end of the school year.

Based on the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few pictures from my wonderful visit at iPrep:

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As much as I hoped to inspire the iPrep Academy students during my visit, the truth is, as so often happens, these children inspired me.  Their passion and knowledge about climate change and sea level rise, about what is happening here to South Florida and what will happen in their (and my) lifetime was evident in their comments, questions and concerns.

The hope they gave me that day confirms that, together, our generation will solve our climate crisis.

So thank you Ms. Maria Thorne for having me at iPrep Academy and for leading a new generation of environmental stewards into the future to help fight climate change.

And thanks especially to your incredible students for their passion, as well as for giving me great hope that they will work with me to help solve our global climate crisis. As I always like to say, ‘Kids Get It’ and that was the case at iPrep Academy.

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Education is, of course, the foundation of all learning and with this in mind, I want to share with you what is likely my last blog post while I am still “officially” a high school student. This Saturday’s graduation ceremony will mark the end of my high school career and, I suppose, the official start to of my college years and life beyond.

With these milestones in mind I would like to share an article that I recently wrote related to the education that I have been fortunate to receive thus far as well as some of my motivations for attending college here in Miami in the form of the many challenges our fragile region faces.

If you are patient enough to read through the entire article, then you will find that I have ended this version with mention, and profound thanks, to many of the wonderful teachers that I have been privileged to learn from over the years. It is to those teachers and mentors schools that I dedicate today’s blog to and to whom I could never say thank you enough for all of your support thus far… 

An Inspirational Environmental Education
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With high school graduation a few days away I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences in the classroom as well as what I’ve learned while exploring our magnificent environment and the challenges that our ecology and society will face in my generation’s future. I’ve been fortunate to have hiked to the top of a volcano in the Andes Mountains, swam with Giant Manta Rays at night in Hawaii, chased White Tip Sharks over a coral reef in the Galapagos, slept under a sky illuminated by millions of stars in the Everglades and on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and watched lions, elephants, and giraffes roam in the wild while on safari in Africa.

And along the way I’ve been inspired by my teachers, the people I’ve met around the world, my family and friends here at home and most certainly the things I’ve seen in our beautiful, natural world, especially those related to the water. Whether the marshes of the Everglades and our colorful coral reefs, or our sandy shores and whimsical mangrove habitats, it is the water that always touches my soul.

My travels and explorations aside, there’s truly no place like home and its fair to say that my educational experiences, as well as our region’s challenges, have influenced my decision to continue my education, and my work, right here in South Florida. And I could not be more excited. In fact, I can’t think of a better place to study marine biology and the environment, much less to have an impact on shaping our future, than in this special place.

Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond it are being assaulted by South Florida’s growth and our community’s growing desire for fuel from Turkey Point’s antiquated nuclear power plant. Staying in South Florida allows me to work on solutions related to FP&L’s over-heated cooling canals that are leaking tritium, a toxic nuclear chemical, into the helpless waters off of our coast.

And speaking of power, much works needs to be done in our state so as to widely implement solar power so as to turn The Sunshine State into The Solar State. If successful, my generation has the opportunity to lead Florida into a sustainable future that holds the promise of producing an estimated 50% of our power needs from the sun.

As Biscayne Bay ends and the Florida Keys begin, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is home of the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. Our reef is home to over 500 amazing marine animals and plays a vital, but often hidden, role in South Florida’s environment and society. The reef impacts our region’s tourism industry, is habitat and home to an array of animals found in few places on earth, acts as an abundant food source to help feed us and is a natural barrier from destructive hurricanes, yet this spectacular ecosystem is at risk of extinction. Man-made pollution from the carbon dioxide that is being poured into our oceans has led to acidification which is bleaching and, thus, killing this majestic organism. I am looking forward to working to protect what is easily one of South Florida’s most special habitats.

And speaking of habitats, the only Everglades on earth is home to an incredible array of unique creatures and their homes that, together, comprise one of the most magical places on our planet. In a world filled with cell phones and downloads one only need to spend a few moments in the tranquility of the Everglades to see and hear what a treasure it is for all of South Florida.  Unfortunately, the Everglades is also under attack. Encroaching development from Florida’s 20 million residents, water polluted by man-made fertilizer that’s dumped and drained into our waters, and rising sea levels from our global climate crisis, amongst other threats, places the survival of the Everglades at the top of our local list of critical environmental challenges.

Our warming climate and sea level rise places our entire region at risk, and the damage has already begun. Our society must shift from our current fossil fueled economy to one based on sustainable energy or else places like Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, the Everglades and the Florida Keys will simply disappear. 97% of all scientists agree that man-made pollution is warming our climate and forecasts predict that oceans will rise three to six feet, or more, over the next few decades unless we change our ways. South Florida is already seeing the early impact of sea level rise and we are approaching a tipping point where trillions of dollars of real estate improvements and infrastructure, much less our economy, its’ tax basis and environment could be lost unless mankind changes its ways.

While many of these challenges are significant and even verge on ominous, I am confident that my generation has the passion, creativity and fortitude to solve them. Mankind has faced countless challenges ranging from famine, to wars, to space travel, and I am certain that South Florida is worth our best effort and investment to protect it and I look forward to helping lead the way.

So as I step away from one campus to another a few miles across town I say thanks to my teachers, family and friends who understand how important our tropical marine environment is to me and who have so kindly supported and shaped me. You have instilled into me a passion for our beautiful natural world that will last a lifetime and for that I am truly grateful.

Allow me to end this blog post by recognizing some of the most gifted and special people that you would ever want to meet: my teachers and mentors who have helped shape and educate me.

At Alexander Montessori, thanks to Ms. Arboleda, Ms. Becton, Mrs. Carlson, Mrs. McClendon, Mr. McGhee, Mrs. McGhee;

In Middle School at Palmer Trinity, thanks to Mr. Evans, Dr. Nagel, Ms. Rolling, Mrs. Schael, Mr. Tolmach; 

And in High School (also at Palmer Trinity), thanks to Mr. Barry, Mrs. Blackburn, Mrs. Calleja, Mrs. Casas, Mr. Cassel, Chaplain Cassini, Mr. Chapman, Mrs. Cetta, Ms. DeVilliers, Mr. Diaz, Sr. Garces, Mr. Godley, Sr. Gonzalez, Dr. Hammerschlag, Mrs. Hibshman, Mrs. Holstein, Coach Iglesias, Coach Jones, Coach Jennings, Ms. Kujawa, Coach Kelbick, Dr. Lane, Dr. Llinas, Dr. Mealey, Mr. Moorhouse, Mrs. Paschick, Coach Prosper, Sra. Quant, Dr. Regalado, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Roberts, Coach Robertson, Mr. Sabogal, Dr. Salomon, Mrs. Sidhu, Dr. Singh, Coach Smith, Mr. Stoddard, Ms. Strauss, Mrs. Trujillo, and Mrs. Vanegas.

And last, but most certainly not least, a thanks and a “Legen17ary” shout out to all of my classmates in the class of 2017. Together we can change the world. NOW let’s go do it!

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P.s. a special thanks to Community News and the Miller family for publishing the article above, as well as for their support of my work. To read or share a copy of the article as published in the Community News, please click here.

From Miami-Dade’s Honor College to Middle & High Schoolers, KIDS GET IT!

So why is it that so few adults in Washington ‘get it’?

The stories pouring out of Washington this past week such as attempts to expand coal mining, eliminating important steps to protect our climate, and (http://www.recorder.com/Trump-order-could-ease-restrictions-on-oil-and-gas-drilling-in-some-national-parks-8987014) news that oil companies could be allowed to explore and drill wells in some of America’s National Parks (including Big Cyprus and Everglades National Park!) have many people rightfully upset, myself included. If needed, I’ll spend the rest of my life working to prevent oil explorations at Big Cyprus or Everglades National Park (have the so called “adults” in charge of these changes lost their minds?) and I am certain I will not be alone.

Why am I so certain?

Well, I only need think of the students that I have lectured to and met over the last few weeks. You only need to hear of their concerns, the passions in their voices and to look into their eyes to know that they are worried about what we are doing to our planet, much less their (rightful) fears over what the new “leadership” in Washington has been doing over the last month or two.

Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College has the largest institution of higher education in America and their very best students are enrolled in the Honor’s College. These young men and women are an impressive, motivated, and highly intelligent group and I learned that up close earlier this month when I presented a full lecture on climate change, sea level rise and what we need to do to solve this growing crisis. These energetic students were passionate about my talk and the need to get serious about fixing the problem. While those in power in Washington might not be serious about our changing climate, the Miami Dade College Honor’s students most certainly were.

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The Sagemont School

The Sagemont School is located on the edge of the Everglades in far, far Western Broward County in Weston. The middle and high school students that I met with this month might not yet be in college but they sure did express their concerns and are most certainly concerned about whether America’s leaders are serious about creating a sustainable future and protecting our planet.

And why not? No place in America is at greater risk from our ocean’s rising seas than South Florida and no place within South Florida is more at risk of extinction than the Everglades, whose grasslands you can see from the back of the school. Even the youngest students in attendance for my talk that day ‘get it’ and are worried about what is happening to our planet and want to help solve the problem. 

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Delaney,

Wow! Where do I start?
 You are an incredibly bright & passionate young woman who has discovered their gift at an early age and is sharing it with the world. Your light shines for others to see.
Your presentation was captivating, educational & left the kids realizing we can all do something to make a difference. 
It was a pleasure to meet you. I am so grateful you were able to join us!
*By the way, my sustainability class LOVED your books!!!
Thank you for what you do. You are amazing & inspiring!
Elaine Fiore

Climate & Sports Student Summit


And just last weekend I had the pleasure of being the closing speaker at the Climate & Sports Student Summit at American Airlines Arena that was organized by the Green Sports Alliance and the Miami Heat.

IMG_8047The students at this event were from schools all over South Florida and they were not only concerned about what is happening in Washington, as well as South Florida, but I am pleased to report that many of them are already deeply engaged in being part of the solution. And to prove it, they spent an entire Saturday learning about and working on ways to protect our precious environment.

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4638996Take, for example, attendees and speakers Kayla and Kimberly Correiea. These two incredible young women (mind you, they are, like myself, high school students) have founded the Plastic Free Mermaids organization (http://plasticfreemermaids.weebly.com) and bring awareness about the dangers of plastic in our marine environment, host cleanups and educate others on how to live in a plastic free lifestyle. These girls are amazing and are also very serious about having a positive impact in our world. Please consider visiting their website and following them on social media.
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And speaking of the Climate & Sports Student Summit and how serious today’s youth is about learning about what is happening to Florida and how they can help, please consider the note I received after my lecture at the home of the Miami Heat from Mel Rigo who wrote:

Good afternoon Delaney, I attended the American Airlines Arena Summit last Saturday and was really interested in what you presented. After talking it through with my teacher, we’ve decided to contact you and see if you’d be willing to attend our school … April is Earth month and our students have come up with themes for each week of the month, the first week of April will be water week which is why we would definitely love it if you’d like to attend and speak to our students during lunch. Pines Middle School welcomes you and would greatly appreciate it if you could come and tell us about what could soon be happening to our state. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Melanie Rigo from Pines Middle School

While many of the adults in Washington right now might not understand (or, at the very least, act like they understand) the importance of shifting our economy from fossil fuels to sustainable solutions such as solar, I can tell you that kids most certainly, absolutely, and undeniably ‘get it’ and these three recent groups once again prove that is the case.

As stupid as the suggestion from the adults ‘in charge’ right now might be that they want to expand coal mining or drill everywhere possible including in our National Parks (!), today’s youth are committed to fixing the climate crisis and ensuring that we change our ways.

Of that, I promise.

March for Science Miami

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When I learned of plans to have the first ever March for Science that will take place in Washington on Earth Day (April 22nd), I knew that we had to have a march here in Miami. That very night I created a social media account for a Miami March for Science, as well as a logo patterned after the Washington group’s artwork and began to think of others who would help support all of the cool science taking place in our region and the world.

900_7329f207-b69c-4f7e-8322-9f628fd81358_6587944b-520d-4f6b-bb9f-e075e86c3059_aae036c4-f36f-4c5f-b376-e0e694320656I am so very pleased to share with you that many people in our community are eager to tout the benefits of science and that I have the honor to now be working with some exceptional, passionate, folks who are organizing the official Miami march. A non-profit organization has been formed for the event along with a wonderful website (https://www.sciencemarchmiami.org) and tens of thousands of people have offered to support the effort including a range of local and national organizations, including Miami Waterkeepers, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural History Museum, the Nature Conservancy and the Women’s March Miami to name just a few. In addition to attending the upcoming march, you can even get some seriously cool merch to support the march in the form of tee shirts by visiting the Participate page on our website (https://www.sciencemarchmiami.org/indexhi).

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So come on Miami, mark you calendars for Earth Day, April 22nd, and join us at Museum Park in Downtown Miami at 11:00 am. Please keep an eye out on The Sink or Swim Project’s social media for more ‘Miami March’ news or follow the March on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and please share the details with all your friends. The more people that march on April 22nd and the louder our voices become, the better. We all know that science trumps politics!

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