The Young Initiative Award

17 March 2021

This award celebrates and recognises an individual between the ages of 18 and 30 who is at the beginning of their career. He or she will have shown commitment and action within ocean conservation. The winner of this award will have demonstrated promising leadership and vision on ocean issues, be it through campaigning and advocacy, the mainstream media, art forms, or educational programmes.

Nominees for this award must have this year shown hard work and determination in their commitment to ocean conservation with a demonstrable impact. They must be able to illustrate how they have shown leadership and implemented their ideas through either a voluntary or professional position.

The finalists are:

  • Francesca Trotman – Love The Oceans
  • Nicola Tsiolis – Sea Change Network
  • Madeline St Clair Baker – Women in Ocean Science
  • Juan Pardo & Silas Principe – University of Agder (UiA) and Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway & University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil

Francesca Trotman – Love The Oceans

At 21 (now 27), Francesca Trotman founded Love the Oceans (LTO) and works tirelessly in Mozambique to establish an MPA. Trotman works with the best interest of the community and oceans at heart, creating a truly holistic approach to ocean sustainability. Covid-19 shut down LTO volunteer programmes, stalled research and community projects, yet Francesca persevered with her work. During this time, she aimed to grow LTO’s social media presence and promote sustainable practices, products and individual behaviour. Nhamussua produced an award-winning film that premiered in April about teaching village children about marine conservation, swimming and the ocean. 

Nicola Tsiolis – Sea Change Network

Nicola Tsiolis, 18, founded Sea Change Network (SCN) which is an organisation that aims “to push for legislative changes to protect oceans in Australia, and to provide students across Victoria and beyond with the tools and skills needed to create their own student-led social justice and environmental groups”. Nicola is also a member of the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, collaborating and learning with youth from around the world to create tangible change for our world’s ocean and people.

Madeline St Clair Baker – Women in Ocean Science

In 2018, at just 22, Madeline St Clair Baker founded Women in Ocean Science (WOS), a non-profit marine science communication and female empowerment project, aiming to break down gender barriers within marine science. Conceptualised in the field during her master’s research, St Clair Baker wanted to highlight the intrinsic link between the need to protect the ocean alongside the need for a diverse, inclusive workforce of those working to protect it. At 24, Madeline now leads a voluntary team of 15 women in helping to close the gender gap through education, celebration and empowerment. In just two years, WOS has featured over 700 women, generated almost 150 blog articles with 140K pageviews, gained an Instagram following of 26K and Facebook group membership of almost 20K, has created a virtual book club and mentorship scheme. This September, Madeline has been working to tackle gender bias and discrimination against women within marine science workforce and learning environments by conducting the first large-scale sexual harassment survey, which received almost a thousand responses. This has allowed WOS to gage the prevalence of sexual harassment in marine science – and what deters women from reporting it. The report aims to be released in early 2021.

Juan Pardo & Silas Principe – University of Agder (UiA) and Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway & University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil

PhD students worldwide have been facing significant academic and personal challenges since the coronavirus pandemic began. In the Perspective article, Moving forward with the academic path of marine graduate researchers during coronavirus pandemic, Juan, Silas and their colleagues Debra Ramon, Gabriel Stefanelli-Silva, Isa Elegbede and Luciana Lima, highlighted relevant short and long-term problems caused by the pandemic, provided feasible solutions, compiled the disperse information on opportunities to support marine graduate researchers and suggested online platforms to make the available information more accessible. It was the first attempt providing some support for early career researchers in the field of marine science. Additonally, one of the outcomes from the perspective was the Twitter account "Marine Graduate Opportunities", a platform to share opportunities for marine graduate researchers by using the hashtag #marineopps.

Return to the finalist page here.