Mystic Aquarium Invests $1.5m in Next Generation Youth celebrates a very special New England nonprofit and their commitment to leadership and conservation.
Mystic, Conn. (April 6, 2022): Mystic Aquarium announces the expansion of its national youth conservation initiative in partnership with community-based organizations in 28 states, Puerto Rico, and on several Native American reservations. The initiative will engage thousands of underserved youth in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have traditionally borne the brunt of environmental issues such as pollution and climate change.
“Mystic Aquarium is a national leader in working with underserved youth and engaging them in conservation projects while empowering them to take action to protect and restore their local environment. We are celebrating our tenth year of implementing this program model, and it is core to how we think about the role of Mystic Aquarium, not only as a place people visit, but as a resource for addressing challenging environmental issues, including the inequity and injustice of how these issues, such as air and water quality, impact low-income communities and communities of color,” said Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President for Mission Programs.
This summer, Mystic Aquarium will bring together teen mentors from all over the country in a series of intensive summer workshops that will build their environmental leadership and advocacy skills, connect them with the aquarium’s research and conservation efforts, and engage them in environmental stewardship projects such as planting marsh grass, removing invasive species, testing water quality, and monitoring populations of threatened animals.
Mystic Aquarium staff will work directly with these teens to develop a customized environmental stewardship project for their community. This will include asset mapping, identifying a local environmental issue and a physical site such as a park with a stream where they can address the issue, identifying important community partners to connect with, and mapping their location. Each group will leave with an implementation plan to bring back to their community organization and implement with staff, youth, and families. These projects will be shared and showcased across the national network through a customized mapping tool and Mystic Aquarium staff will continue to support and track this growing movement of environmental leaders.
“Empowering and lifting up youth is key to this project. Many of us underestimate young people. But I’ve seen what they are capable of. They are often our most passionate, knowledgeable, and effective advocates for the environment. It’s a privilege to work with our dedicated community-based partners, and the youth that they serve,” said Cubina.
The expansion of this national youth conservation initiative is the logical next step for Mystic Aquarium, which is a leader in the conservation of marine ecosystems and wildlife and the establishment of marine protected areas. Increasing equitable access to public land and water while advancing community-based, locally-led conservation and restoration efforts contributes to the global goal of protecting at least 30% of all land and water by 2030. That is a goal that we must hit to effectively stave off the current global biodiversity and climate crises.
With the assistance of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Mystic Aquarium will invest more than $1.5 million in the participating communities to support their work at the local level in the form of subawards that average $30,000 per site. The subawards will cover local staff time, travel expenses, and all training, curriculum, and supplies needed to successfully implement the program.
About Mystic Aquarium
Mystic Aquarium, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is one of the world’s leading aquariums, offering exemplary care to thousands of species while also serving as the northeast’s premier marine animal rescue and rehabilitation center. Mystic Aquarium’s mission is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education, and research. The Aquarium is the largest provider of informal education in the region, engaging more than 100,000 students and educators annually through our national youth conservation initiative. As a premier research organization, the Aquarium also employs a full staff of scientists engaged in projects focused on the conservation and sustainable use of our ocean planet and is internationally recognized for its work in the establishment of marine protected areas and the conservation of marine mammals.
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