Oil Spills, T-Shirts, and Jacques Cousteau: Q+A with Ocean Hero Youth Finalists Rory and Maeve McCracken!
BY: Justine Sullivan
Rory and Maeve McCracken – Baton Rouge, LA.
In the wake of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Rory (age 14) and Maeve (age 10) started the organization “kidslovethegulf.org” which raised $8,000 through the sale of T-shirts to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife via the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program. The siblings also published an illustrated ABC’s book, G is for Gulf, with all proceedings helping to donate additional copies to elementary school libraries and classrooms. To date, books have been donated to schools in Louisiana, Florida and Honduras. Rory and Maeve hope to donate the book to schools in all states that border the Gulf and eventually take it nationwide.
Please describe your contribution to ocean conservation:
The non-profit group and website www.kidslovethegulf.org was founded in 2010 as a heartfelt response to the BP oil spill…Rory and Maeve support their interest in the Gulf by meeting with researchers and scientists – both to learn about different animals, and to help steward the restoration of habitat. They enjoy working and learning about the Gulf of Mexico, and wanted to share their research with others, so they gathered friends and high school volunteers to research, write, and publish an ABC book about the animals of the Gulf of Mexico.
G is for Gulf is the results of their efforts to share facts and educate youth about the incredible ecosystem that is the Gulf of Mexico. All profits from book sales are used to purchase and donate copies of the book to classrooms and libraries. Rory and Maeve understand that education is the key to conservation, and their website and book are ways to explore and share the largest gulf in the world.
Please explain why your contribution is important and why voters should choose you as a winner of the 2013 Ocean Hero Awards:
Rory and Maeve are constantly dreaming up ideas of ways to share the Gulf of Mexico with their peers. From the website www.kidslovethegulf.org to the book G is for Gulf, they are persistent in their message. Education is the key to conservation and by creating interest in animals and the environment, other kids are able to understand their role and responsibility in preserving the ecosystem for the future. Our philosophy is that “even a kid can make a difference” – every contribution each kid makes to conservation of habitat enables them to invest an interest in the future of the Gulf of Mexico, which is vital to our world’s health and stability.
What inspired you to get involved in ocean conservation?
The BP oil spill in April 2010. Seeing the pictures of the disaster, of the oiled birds and turtles was very disturbing and prompted us to take action and try to help in some small way. Because of our ages, we felt pretty helpless. But bolstered to action, we designed and sold T-shirts and wristbands to raise money to donate to the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP). Being able to donate all of the profits from our sales — $8000 – to LMMSTRP helped us and our friends feel like we contributed to the recovery effort.
What was your first victory and when did you start believing you could make a difference?
The first inkling that we had a success on our hands was in early July 2010. We were on vacation and an article about the kids’ efforts was published in the Baton Rouge Advocate. That evening, we checked the PayPal account and had more orders than we could possible fill! We immediately had more T-shirts printed and lined up friends to help with packing and shipping.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to be an Ocean Hero?
Go after your dreams – nothing is impossible. And remember, even a kid can make a difference!
Who is your personal Ocean Hero? Why?
Jacques Cousteau, because he made diving available to all. Rory has been SCUBA-certified since 2010, and Maeve completed her certification in June. Jacques Cousteau opened the underwater world to us and it is fascinating.
Inspired by Rory and Maeve McCracken? Vote for them to be 2013 Youth Ocean Heroes!