Youth Action Council

NMMF Youth Initiatives: Empowering Future Leaders in Ocean Conservation

The National Marine Mammal Foundation proudly presents two dynamic youth engagement programs dedicated to cultivating the next generation of marine conservationists, scientists, and environmental advocates. Geared towards high school students, these programs form the foundation of our mission to inspire and educate young minds, encouraging them to make a positive impact on the environment and work towards a healthier planet.

  • The Youth Action Council empowers high school students with a passion for marine science and ocean conservation to discuss and address critical issues through hands-on workshops, inspiring them to transform their passion into meaningful actions. 
  • Our Ocean Ambassador Award recognizes and celebrates young environmental leaders for their outstanding efforts in protecting and preserving our oceans. 

Read on to learn more about the programs and to apply!

Youth Action Council

The Youth Action Council is a leadership program for ambitious high school students who wish to share their passion for marine science while also making a positive impact in their community on behalf of the ocean. The program brings groups of teens together from San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles county to discuss a variety of ocean conservation issues. It is a collaborative effort between the NMMF, The Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles. Youth learn to transform their passion into action to create meaningful and effective change for a healthier planet.

During the 2024 session, students in grades 9-12 will be given the opportunity to learn about cutting edge science being used to assist in the recovery of the critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales. A series of hands-on workshops, demonstrating different field techniques, precedes a variety of youth driven initiatives to raise awareness of the cascade of human impacts affecting these whales and how people in Southern California can help.

The deadline to apply for the Spring 2024 Youth Action Council has passed. Please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page and be the first to know about upcoming youth initiatives. 

Upcoming Youth Action Council Session

Next Session: January – May 2024 (6 meetings total)

  • Thursday, Jan 11, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Thursday, Feb 1, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Thursday, Feb 22, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Thursday, Mar 14, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Thursday, Apr 4, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Saturday, May 4 (in-person in San Diego, Times TBD, all cohorts optional)

Location: Meetings will be held virtually and regionally. Applicants should sign up for the session in their region.

Time Commitment: Council meetings are 2 hours in length. Additional hours outside of meetings are required to fulfill the community project. 

Qualifications: Open to high school students in grades 9-12. All levels of experience are welcome. Applicants need only have a passion for marine science and ocean conservation to participate. Applications will be weighed based on essay responses to questions included.

Acceptance is predicated on the applicant’s ability to commit to all sessions of the program and willingness to participate in and fulfill the conservation awareness initiative. Students must have access to a reliable internet connection for online meetings as well as transportation to meetings held at their regional site.

Cost: This program is grant funded and at no cost to participants, but participants must be able to provide their own transportation for in-person meetings.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2023

Please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page and be the first to know about upcoming Youth Action Council sessions.

Telling the Story - Youth Action Council Participants

NMMF Volunteer Eadoh Reshef shares more about what students learned during the 2023 Youth Action Council and unveils the insights he gained about the world of Southern Resident killer whales, their habitat, and the power of youth-led conservation efforts

Ocean Ambassador Award

The Ocean Ambassador Service Award celebrates and recognizes the efforts of young environmental leaders, students, clubs, troops, and individuals who are actively engaged in projects to protect and preserve our oceans. The NMMF awards this annual distinction to Ocean Ambassadors whose initiatives make a positive impact in their communities and inspire others to take action in the name of ocean conservation. The program seeks to highlight and honor these young advocates at a virtual event.

The 2021 Ocean Ambassadors

Upcoming Ocean Ambassador Award Application

Application details for the 2024 Ocean Ambassador Service Award will be announced in Spring 2024. Please see our page footer to sign up for our newsletter and receive program updates.

2021 Ocean Ambassador Service Awardee

Meet Sienna Lang, our 2021 Ocean Ambassador Service Award winner! Sienna established and led her school’s first ever after-school environmental club. Since receiving the NMMF Ocean Ambassador Service Award in 2021, Sienna was awarded a micro grant through the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit to fund the environmental club and writes monthly newsletters to supporters of her organization, updating them on the clubs’ initiatives and a wildlife spotlight.

Sienna L., 2021 Ocean Ambassador Awardee
Sienna L, 2021 Ocean Ambassador Awardee

The NMMF partners with leading STEAM organizations to reach a diverse and broad audience, emphasizing the importance of shared responsibility for ocean stewardship and education. Through these Youth Initiatives, the NMMF seeks to inspire the next generation of ocean ambassadors, scientists, and conservationists. These initiatives provide young minds with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to make a positive impact on our environment and work towards a healthier planet.