Crafting Change in Miami with Sea Glass Necklaces for Climate Education
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Crafting Change in Miami with Sea Glass Necklaces for Climate Education

The Climate Leaders Fellowship program teaches students about climate change and environmental sustainability, and guides them in designing and launching a volunteer project in their own communities.

The fellowship is offered as a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read about Penelope’s impactful experience below!

Tell us about yourself! 

Hi! My name is Penelope Heller. I live in Miami Beach Florida and I am 17 years old. I have many interests that mainly surround nature and being outdoors. This is also why I am so passionate about environmental protection. I love to hike, run, bike, and take photos of our beautiful world.

What specific problem were you addressing in your community? 

The specific problem I was addressing is the education of people on the impacts of climate change in my community. My community faces many of the disastrous effects of climate change, namely sea level rise, flooding, and increased catastrophic storms. I decided to help educate, while also raising money. This money was put towards a local climate change organization that seeks to educate people about the onset of sea level rise and climate change.

What did you do for your project?

For my project, I wanted to teach people about the natural beauties our planet has to offer while simultaneously raising money to help the planet. I decided to make sea glass and sand-filled necklaces using the materials I collected from the local beaches.

I made the necklaces for sale, in order to use the profits to donate towards a local climate change initiative. In order to educate, I added a paper with the necklaces I sold that taught people about what climate change is, and its effects.

When selling in person, I would verbally teach my customers and allow them to ask questions that I would answer regarding the subject.

Where did you sell them?

I sold my necklaces both online, on an Etsy shop called PenelEco, and in person. In-person, I sold to people I knew, through social media, and at a booth at a crowded event one time.

Which groups of people did you try to get to engage with your project?

I tried to involve a diverse audience with my project by actively participating in various community events that had a wide range of people.

I sold my necklaces at a Girl Scout event, aiming to engage young children in discussions about the impacts of climate change. I did this to educate the future generation that they are capable of influencing positive change.

Recognizing that the key to addressing climate change lies in educating the masses, I also connected with a broad spectrum of individuals through community organizations and social media. I attended events organized by a local climate change initiative of which I am a member, furthering my efforts to reach and educate people on a larger scale.

Why did you do this project? 

I did it because climate change and environmental justice is a huge passion of mine and I wanted to make a difference. I saw an opportunity within this fellowship to do just that. This fellowship allowed me to see that I could create a project that reflected my passion.

What were the results? 

The quantitative results of my project resulted in around 300 dollars worth of profit, which I used as donations.  The qualitative results of my project seem to be very positive. I received a lot of positive feedback from buyers that they were very excited to have been able to help. I also had feedback that my education efforts were well taken.

What partner organization did you work with or contribute to?

The main partner organization that I worked with and contributed to is a community-based climate change initiative called Sea Level Rise Solutions.

How did participating in the Climate Leaders Fellowship make you feel? 

Participating in the Climate Leaders Fellowship left me with a sense of fulfillment. I feel good about the results I achieved during the fellowship. I believe that my efforts left a positive impact on my community, and I hope to continue with my efforts.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.