Sea Hero Casey SokolovicA high school freshman, Casey Sokolovic started Love A Sea Turtle when she was only eight
After seeing injured sea turtles during a third-grade field trip, this high school freshman embarked on a mission to help them
Casey Sokolovic was just 8 years old when she started Love A Sea Turtle. L.A.S.T. is dedicated to preserving the world’s sea turtle population, inspiring our youth to get involved, and providing environmental educational summer camp programs for local Boys & Girls Clubs. Here is our full interview with this remarkable young woman:
What made you create a sea turtle awareness program at the age of 8?
A school field trip to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Island, North Carolina inspired me into action. After seeing the sick and injured turtles, I knew I had to do something to help them last.
How did your efforts grow from that initial interest?
After just selling cookies and lemonade, I realized the need for Love A Sea Turtle to grow into something bigger. So, I started my educational outreach program. I make presentations and show my videos to thousands of students and groups to spread awareness of sea turtles and inspire others into action.
From baking cookies with some of the kids from my local Boys & Girls Club, I discovered a need for a fun hands-on STEM based environmental summer camp for them to attend. I held two camps last summer and I have raised the funds for six camps this summer. One of the weeks will be for returning campers and it will be a more advanced camp. They even get to SCUBA dive!
I plan for the camps to continue to expand and grow!
How did diving play a role in your conservation efforts?
After a try scuba class in Barbados, I discovered that diving was the ultimate way to view the marine life that I have devoted countless hours to preserve. My diving instructor said we could look, but not touch, and as long as we do not disturb the underwater world, it will be here for us to continue to enjoy. This made an impact on me. I fall in love with my work all over again each time that I have been able to see marine life. The ocean is another whole world that needs to be protected, preserved and shared with young and old.
Describe the summer camp you run as it relates to sea turtles.
The Upstream Downstream Connection summer camp program is an environmental science camp with hands-on water based activities that instills in young people the need to help preserve and protect our environment. Students learn their actions on land create reactions in the ocean – good and bad. Sea turtles are “keystone” creatures and vital to the natural balance in a healthy ocean ecosystem. A visit to a sea turtle hospital ties the entire week’s lesson together.
What do you love about speaking engagements at schools?
I love being able to tell others about my journey, my love for turtles, and the possibility of inspiring youths to get involved or creating their own organization to help another cause. The questions, the excitement and the real desire on the part of students to get involved and make a difference feed my work. It energizes me and provides me with inspiration.
What are you most proud of, in terms of the efforts and results you’ve been able to achieve over the years?
This summer, the new Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center will officially open. I have been raising awareness and funds for six years. It will be a special moment for many dedicated volunteers and activists when this dream comes true.
Being able to speak to youths directly about getting involved fuels and inspires my work.
What’s next for the program in the short- and long-term?
Expand the camp program by developing unique and strategic partnerships. Look for opportunities to inspire and highlight as many students through my work and social media.
Do you have other passions?
I run cross country, swim, read, cook, and love dark chocolate!
What’s in store for you, once you leave high school?
I would like to attend a university with programs in marine science, food and nutrition, or eco-tourism. It’s too early for me to eliminate so many good options. I will continue to explore the possibilities and enjoy the journey.
The Sea Heroes Award is sponsored by Scuba Diving magazine and Oris Watches. Nominate a Sea Hero here.