Top 5 Ocean Advocacy Programs For Teens

Learning about plastic pollution and the ocean can be an overwhelming experience. There are lots of programs available, but not all of them offer equal opportunities to learn and grow. With the global pandemic causing many organizations to cancel programs, finding the right one can seem even more daunting. Fortunately, there are some amazing organizations offering online programs, and we’ve got the inside scoop on them! Here’s our take on why learning about plastic during the pandemic is a great idea, plus the Top 5 Organizations we recommend. 

Global Youth Mentorship Program

Why It’s A Good Idea

We get it. Not seeing your friends all the time is tough, and social distancing can be a recipe for boredom. But why not use that extra time at home to become a better version of yourself? There are so many creative resources out there that can help you gain knowledge and skills for changing the world. 

Our planet needs our help. Our oceans are littered with plastic, and yet we continue using wasteful and harmful products. Making some simple lifestyle changes and spreading the word on plastic pollution is one tangible way to shift our culture in the right direction.

So let’s do our part! Take the initiative and become a leader for change in your community. Learn the facts and engage in the conversation. You will be amazed at the incredible experiences and people you’ll encounter along the way. 

Together, we can make plastic pollution a thing of the past.


Finding the Right Program

What Are You Interested In?

You’ll get the most out of a program you are genuinely excited about, so make sure the objectives of the program line up with your interests. Do you have a passion for science? A love for big gatherings and brainstorming? A knack for coordinating events? Are you a teacher? Learner? Explorer?


Being A Self-Starter vs. Being Relationally-Motivated

Some of us flourish when we can dive into a project on our own, without the constraint of deadlines. We are self-starters and prefer to work our way through material without anyone checking in on us. 

Others of us are relationally-motivated; we need the inspiration and structure provided by a mentor and/or community to stay on track. 

Knowing what structure suits your personality is very important. If you are content working alone for hours, a self-led project might be effective. However, if you get energy from constantly being around people, then a program where you can meet and engage with others will be best for you. Of course, many programs combine elements of both, so it’s just about finding the right balance for you!


Our Top 5 Plastic Pollution Programs For Teens

Best for a Weekend Project: Wayfinder Society 

The Algalita Wayfinder Society is an online module with practical activities, or “Waymarks,” to be completed. As stated on their website, “a Waymark is a sign, post, or flag placed on a trail by those who came before, to guide travelers who follow. Our Waymarks are activities we’ve designed to show you our idea of how to bring about a world free of plastic pollution.” Throughout the process, you can also earn rewards and meet smart, like-minded people.

Why we love it: The system of points and rewards makes it fun to learn about plastic pollution and practice new, sustainable habits.


Best For Real-World Action: Global Youth Mentorship (GYM)

Plastic Tides is an organization on a mission to inspire and catalyze action toward a plastic-free future through adventure, education, and youth empowerment. The Global Youth Mentorship (GYM) Program gives motivated Youth Leaders the tools and support to create lasting systemic change in their communities. Projects are designed from the bottom-up with the help of a mentor, and they are enacted alongside a community of creative, like-minded peers. While project ideas range broadly, they all place an emphasis on sustainable, systemic, and quantitative change.

Why we love it: The GYM Program doesn’t just teach you theories about how to lead; it equips you to actually lead and create real, permanent change in the world.


Best Conference: Ocean Heroes Bootcamp

The Ocean Heroes Bootcamp convenes hundreds of youth activists from around the world for 3 days of sharing knowledge, gaining tools, and making connections. The conference attempts to empower teens to start their own campaigns and lead the fight against plastic wherever they go. 2020 was the first virtual conference, with over 400 youth from 40 countries in attendance.

Why we love it: The Ocean Heroes Bootcamp is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gather with peers from around the world. Packing it all into 3 days is a guaranteed super-boost, firing you up to take action on plastic pollution.


Best for the Basics: Take 3 Online Learning Program

Take 3 provides teachers with a curriculum that’s perfect for learning the basics of ocean advocacy. Totally free, this Australian program introduces students to a personal connection with the ocean and provides a groundwork for lifestyle changes related to plastic. Take 3 is founded on a simple belief: “take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere, and you have made a difference.”

Why we love it: Take 3 covers the basics of plastic pollution in the classroom. It’s a fun, inspiring curriculum designed to engage students without overwhelming them.


Best Science-Based Classroom Curriculum: 5 Gyres

The 5 Gyres NextGen Educational Program is a science-based curriculum that dives into the complex issues of ocean conservation. Designed to meet educational standards from elementary to high school, this program can stand alone or be paired with relevant topics already covered in the science classroom. 5 Gyres also works at the forefront of ocean research and reporting, boasting a wealth of literature published in scientific journals. They really know their stuff. 

Why we love it: 5 Gyres is the science expert on the block. Their curriculum is heavily informed by research and perfect for a more advanced study on plastic pollution. 

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Christian Shaw