We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Russell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sean, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The power of partnerships and collaboration has been key to the success of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit program. In 2011, as a first-year college student, I created a plan to launch the first Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, with the support of partners and mentors from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Their initial belief in this idea, and in the ability of young people to take meaningful action to protect our ocean planet, was crucial in turning this plan into a reality. Over the course of the past decade, the program has grown from that idea, into a network of youth-led events across the country – each supported by community partners and individuals who contribute their time, energy, funding and expertise, to help equip young people with the tools and resources to create an action plan to protect their local marine environment, and bring that plan to life. Powered by diverse organizations and passionate young leaders uniting in collaboration, the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit has directly engaged over 2,800 youth participants through 40+ Summits across the country, providing over $27,000 to directly fund innovative, solutions-oriented ocean conservation projects emerging from this event – ranging from mangrove restoration efforts and wildlife conservation campaigns to policy efforts focused on combatting single use plastics and community based environmental education initiatives. As we celebrate 10 years of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit December 4-5, 2020, I’m incredibly grateful to the individuals and organizations who have come together to continue to sustain and grow this movement.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work has focused on the intersection of environmental education and youth leadership programming. Over the past ten years I have worked with a diverse set of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and corporations to elevate the role of youth leadership in the fields of environmental science and conservation. My work, through the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, and my role as the Association Director of Youth Engagement & Partnerships at EarthEcho International, affords me the opportunity to actively create opportunities to build capacity in young leaders and amplify their efforts to create a more just and sustainable future. Through these experiences, I work to emphasize that in order to address the challenges facing our environment and society, we cannot afford to write off young people as leaders of the future. Instead, it is imperative that we give young people a seat at the table and create opportunities for intergenerational collaboration to develop and enact the solutions we need.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When spending time in the Miami area, I enjoy taking friends to Cocoanut Grove for lunch at the Last Carrot, exploring the beach at Cape Florida, stopping by Frost Science, checking out the art and grabbing dinner at Wynwood, or taking a day drive out to Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this Shoutout to the incredible staff and volunteers at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium for their tireless commitment to marine conservation and their belief in and support of my work to train the next generation of ocean conservation leaders.

Website: www.yocs.org
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sean_russell92/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/seandrussell/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/seandrussell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seandrussell
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/seandrussell

Image Credits
Tayler Lacasse (all images)

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