Local Teen Rises to Make a Change

Surfrider Foundation Club

Climate change receives national attention in the media practically every single day. It’s a serious concern and a hot topic, especially for our youth including Hollywood Beach native Emma Kavanaugh. The 16-year-old St. Thomas Aquinas (STA) High School student is a self-proclaimed ocean conservationist. 

The ambitious and dedicated teen is the founder and president of STA’s Surfrider Foundation Club where she and fellow students attend and guide educational meetings with city officials and business owners to demonstrate the need for cutting down on disposable plastics and keeping waste off local beaches. 

“I wanted to start this club because I was inspired by the work others were doing, and I wanted to make a larger impact in my school and community. Ocean conservation is personally important to me because I live in South Florida. If environmental issues keep getting worse, my hometown will face rising sea levels, rising temperatures, and ocean acidification,” explained Emma. 

Climate change and sea-level rise is not a topic taken lightly for Emma, especially being a South Floridian. South Florida is ground zero for climate change in the state and a recent study conducted at FAU showed that “68% of Floridians either agree or strongly agree that climate change has them concerned about the well-being of future generations in Florida.”

Emma Kavanaugh

Although Emma is a local leader in her community, she is a leader on a national level too. Her involvement, along with other like-minded young adult activists, is steering the climate movement by becoming a voice for change in the “2019 Climate Action Summit”.

Her vision in the future is that “the whole world will need to be more aware, conscious, and live in harmony with the environment. A healthy, stable climate, that’s not heavily impacted by humans and ignorance, is made possible through growing peoples’ awareness.”

It’s no surprise that this stellar student is interested in Marine Biology and Wildlife Biology and very involved with the Marine Biology club at STA. Additionally, she is part of the Delta Airlines Youth Advisory Council, which helps guide the airline’s efforts to eliminate single-use plastics, among other sustainability initiatives.

“I want to protect people from all over the world and future generations from the issues we have created. In order to continue to grow and thrive, we need clean oceans and a healthy planet,” added the passionate teen.