Welcome to 2022!

January 1st, 2022, I hosted a cleanup with my good friend and State Representative, Greg Vital. I truly appreciate people who believe kids can make a difference!

Last year I met so many amazing people and have been so inspired that I know what I’m doing matters. I know my voice is being heard and my actions are being seen and they matter!

Starting the year off with a cleanup has become a family tradition for my family but being joined today by people who represent my state makes me so proud and happy!

Winter the Dolphin

This morning I woke up to the news Winter the dolphin that has been at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has died. This hurt my heart so much. I had the great pleasure to see Winter more than once and her story really touched me.

She was injured by a crab trap that was left behind and she was entangled causing irreversible damage to her tail which ended up having to be amputated. She was found and cared for by the amazing team at Clearwater Marine Hospital.

Their motto is rescue, rehab and release but a dolphin missing her entire tail flukes, is obviously unreleasable so that’s where she stayed for 16 years. So many people heard her story and connected with her on such a deep level. She touched so many human lives than and truly changed hearts towards ocean animals.

Winter was harmed by humans and was forced to be removed from her home but on the other hand, humans saved her and took amazing care of her so we learned humans can make things better and do our part to care for our wildlife. We can do better. We can come together and make an impact for good. Let’s do something today for Winter!

Go Blue Award

Ella & I were finalists for the Go Blue Award with Loggerhead Marine life Center. The Cleanup Kids is focused on cleaning up the planet of trash, plastic, bullying, air pollution, noise and and other for of pollution to make this planet better.

The keynote speaker was Sylvia Earle and hearing her speak was incredible. I had chills the whole time being in the presence of “Her Deepness”.

Although Ella & I didn’t win, we are all winners because we met and spoke with so many amazing ocean conservationists who inspire us and now we are more ready than ever to keep going and move forward with our work to make this world a better place.

Busy busy busy…..

This month has been super busy and it doesn’t look like next month is going to lighten up. I’m not complaining, I LOVE it. I love being able to raise more and more awareness for our great planet, for our waterways and our wildlife.

I was able to visit Yellowstone National Park as well as Grand Teton National Park and be immersed in wildlife and nature and it was such a beautiful time! Moose, Bear, Wolves, and Bison were all on my list and I saw all of them.

Ella & I, as The Cleanup Kids, were honored to be named in the top 25 for the prestigious Gloria Barron Prize for young heroes. When we hear if being just nominated for these awards, it confirms we are making a difference and our voices are being heard.

The same day, we also learned we are finalists for the GoBlue awards with the Loggerhead Marine Center in Florida. Ella & I have both been there and researched sea turtles and have even done full videos on turtles if you want to check it out in our YouTube channel.

I also have some other things in the works that I can’t say yet but it’s turning out to be an exciting year and I am so thankful for the support of my parents as well as the people who have given so much to help me learn and grow and pursue ocean and river conservation.

I know I’m just a kid, but we can make a difference! We can and WILL change the world!

Sammie Smiles Podcast

I did my first podcast interview and it happens to be with my friend and fellow Prudential spirit of community award winner. Go check it out and let m know what you think!

YouTube: https://youtu.be/AdQOySpgonQ

Apple podcast

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sammie-smiles/id1536338801?i=1000527870083

 

Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/episode/1FLq6bNiINA6982pEIdjQY?si=Vwiw5gqMTSqyRS5mnShZEA&dl_branch=1

President’s Volunteer Service Award.

I was shocked and surprised to be a recipient of this prestigious award. Volunteering, cleaning our planet of pollution is what makes me feel accomplished and I don’t do it for the awards or accolades but this one will be framed and I am proud of it. Just remember, anyone can make a difference!

EARTH WEEK!

It’s already been a super busy week… well, month for me, but I have so many exciting new things coming and new announcements this week and next week and I can’t wait to share!

It’s not always the cleanest and most delightful work but after so much dirty work, the things I’ve been working on have been fun, and super special. Ella and I (AKA The Cleanup Kids) have been working on filmmaking and some other new ventures that pushed us out of our comfort zones but it’s been worth it. He’s a quick sneak peak at a new short video we did to quickly explain who we are.

Sharks!!

Today, I swam with sharks! That’s right! I’m 11, and I swam with sharks with the amazing Jim Abernethy! It was amazing to see lemon sharks and some bull sharks and guess what?! Nobody was bitten or attacked! You know why? Sharks aren’t mindless eating machines. Sharks are actually afraid of people and are shy. Jim has gotten to know them over decades and loves them so much. These beautiful creatures need protected and loved. They need to be appreciated for what they are. Amazing, gorgeous, strong, but vulnerable animals.

Let’s all help save sharks together! what can you do if you don’t live near the ocean? Don’t eat shark! Limited your single use plastics when you can. Check your ingredients list in cosmetics, cat/dog food and don’t buy things that contain squalene.

Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

I was so excited to be able to present about my grant and progress over the last year. I have invested time and a lot of energy to help save the Tennessee River.

The Tennessee River is the most polluted with microplastics than any other river in the world tested to date. I believe some of these microplastics are from fishing line and monofilament because w shave huge fishing tournaments here which generate millions of dollars. This also means fishing line waste while anglers are busy and the broken line gets tossed in the trash.

I’ve started monofilament recycling and now have 10 receptacles placed along the river.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings and how I can further my projects.

New receptacles coming soon!

I have plans for new monofilament receptacles to be places soon! I’m working with TWRA on new places to put them and strategize where and when to empty.

All the fishing line collected goes to Berkeley fishing and is recycling led and turned into fish habitats to better our waterways instead of threatening it with improperly disposed of fishing line that wreaks havoc on our wildlife.

Check back to see where these new receptacles will be places! I can’t wait.