TheGrio's 100: Daniell Washington, teaching youth the importance of water conservation

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Daniell Washington is a marine biologist and activist who is reaching out to youth to teach them the importance of preserving the ocean and the water eco-system.

In 2008, Washington entered and won first place in clothing brand Roxy’s “Follow Your Heart” competition, which is a multi-city tour encouraging girls to pursue their dreams. Washington took the $10,000 she won and created the Big Blue & You Foundation with her mother, Michelle Swaby.

The foundation teaches high school students to be, as it says on the site, “global stewards of the Earth and guardians of the Oceans.” Through various educational hands-on activities, Washington’s goal is to help children see how they are connected to their environment.

Washington is making history… as a leader in South Florida in bringing awareness to water conservation issues and preserving the ecosystems that make the Sunshine State a favorite vacation destination for its lush, tropical landscape.

What’s next for Daniell?

Last November, Washington was one of 40 people selected to be a TogetherGreen fellow, a fellowship from a partnership between the National Audubon Society and Toyota. She is using the $10,000 she was awarded to bring the One Water Workshop into partnership with the Miami World Cinema Center, a non-profit film studio, to reach inner-city high school students. Through the workshop, which is offered through her alma mater the University of Miami, students create public service announcements about water conservation for online distribution and learn about visual media and film production.

A little-known fact about water

Taking showers instead of baths conserves water. It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, according to the National Geographic.

For more information, click here.


Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

A: Now that I’ve established the Big Blue & You Foundation, I would like to host an adventure television show about the ocean featured on a national network. I want to play a role in exposing the wonders of the sea to millions of families in a fun and exciting way while inspiring them to do their part in protecting our blue planet.

Q: What’s a little fact about you that many people don’t know?
A: I fell into an nearly frozen river after tipping my kayak on a fallen tree in northern Michigan in the middle of February. That was definitely the coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life!

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: Since I was six years old, the ocean has been my main source of inspiration.The vastness of the sea humbles me and makes me feel closer to my Creator.The fact that certain biological processes in the sea provide nearly 50% of the oxygen we breathe is just one reason why I am in awe of the ocean. Life on this planet is completely dependent on the sea and yet majority of the human population doesn’t pay attention to the factors threatening its survival. My passion to share its beauty and wonders with others continues to drive me everyday.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: My first and most important mentor is my Mom. Her ceaseless love and friendship is a gift that I thank God for everyday. She is the hardest working woman I’ve ever met and I always want to make her proud. In addition to my mother, I must say that I have been truly blessed to have some incredible women in my life throughout the years who have nurtured my spirit and growth on so many different levels. Of course my grandmothers and aunts were there from the beginning, continuously cheering me on to achieve each goal I strived to accomplish. Beyond my family, Ms. Susan Taylor, Ovrill Dwyer, Lisa Silvera, Ellen Woods and several other amazing individuals have touched my life in such a positive way.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

A: Stick to your passion…no matter what. I especially hope to encourage teenagers and young adults just graduating from college and entering the workforce. In such difficult economic climate, its crucial for this generation to get creative. Think about what you enjoy most then go for it. Find your niche and design your own career. People may try to make you believe your dreams are unachievable but you must stay focused and visualize your success.