Philanthropy begins early at the Seattle Aquarium

Youth Ocean Advocates


Have you ever noticed youth volunteers painting faces during a visit to the Seattle Aquarium? And wondered where the money from the donation box goes? Youth philanthropy is one of four tracks within the Youth Ocean Advocates high school volunteer program. Participants in this track have the opportunity to develop an understanding of how philanthropy works by using funds raised from their donation-based face-painting station to award their own grants.

Members of the youth philanthropy team recently awarded five grants to nonprofits and schools for equipment for marine science research and education. The grants went to: The Center for Aquatic Sciences' CAUSE program, an inner-city youth development program; Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to connect water quality with salmon health for students in kindergarten through ninth grade; Babylon Junior/Senior High School for a touch tank to bring kindergarten, first and second grade students to their marine science classes; Mote Marine Laboratory for a “manatee cam” that will be used in manatee research and live-streaming; and Planeta Oceano for shark research to provide a comprehensive biological, fisheries and social-economic assessments of sharks and rays in northern Peru.

"Philanthropy team participants not only have the rewarding opportunity to give to the ocean conservation community, but also to learn about the granting process by developing their own granting program,” comments Youth Engagement Coordinator Dave Glenn. “Grant writing and securing funding is a skill that youth volunteers will need as they pursue careers in marine science, conservation and education. What better way to learn about the grant process by developing their own?"

The three other Youth Ocean Advocates program tracks include youth interpreters, through which participants work directly with guests visiting the Aquarium, answering questions and providing information about marine life and the marine environment; field conservation, which brings participants and Aquarium staff together to develop opportunities to engage large numbers of youth in field volunteer opportunities such as beach cleanups and habitat restoration; and a social media campaign called Puget Sound: We Love You, a youth-driven awareness campaign that encourages youth to advocate in their communities by utilizing their existing social networks to engage their family, friends, and school peers to take conservation action.

Visit our website for more information about the Seattle Aquarium’s Youth Ocean Advocate program!


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