Meet the college class who raised $4,000 for the ocean. Alex Amador and nine other students from the Florida Gulf Coast University decided to support Ocean Conservancy through their class, Trails for Tails. We were fortunate enough to chat with them about their experience.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Ocean Conservancy: What inspired your campaign?
Alex Amador: The campaign was inspired by the honors course, Trails for Tails. Trails for Tails was first offered as an honors service-based course in 2013 and 2014. In 2017, we brought back this course that works with the environment and its animals. In 2013, they partnered with the Panther Conservancy and in 2014, they partnered with Ocean Conservancy. Our class was heavily inspired by the 2014 class and we tried to improve on their project. The mission and vision of Ocean Conservancy were both very in-line with our class’ views of wanting to keep our ocean safe, sustainable and clean. This made us all vote to stay with Ocean Conservancy.
OC: Can you tell me a little about your class?
AA: Our class is a unique course here at FGCU. The class is made up of ten students, one professor and one teaching assistant who has participated in Trails for Tails in past years. The professor is there to lightly guide us, and the TA is there to give us information and keep us on track. The rest of the course is all on the students.
OC: How did you discover your passion for the ocean?
AA: I have been around the ocean my whole life. Many of the men in my family were fishermen back in Cuba. My entire family loves to be on the ocean. We go out on our small boat as often as we can and have family picnics on the beaches. As my siblings and I have grown older, we have become more cognizant of the trash in the water and on the shores. While on our picnics, we have competitions to see who can collect the most trash. The winner gets to ride on the tube being pulled by the boat all the way back to the docks. Many students on our team share similar stories and we all hold one hope in common: that our future families get to enjoy the same beautiful ocean that we have lived with all our lives.
OC: What is one piece of advice you’d give students like you looking to make a positive difference for our ocean?
AA: Work hard, work together and work with a purpose. If there is no purpose behind the work that is being done, then the work will most likely not have a lasting impact. A big group of people can improve things for short while, but a group of people with passion and purpose can have a positive lasting impact on the future.
In addition to raising $4,000 for ocean conservation, Alex and his class won the Most Engaged Award from their University’s Community Engagement Day—an award given to the students who had the most amount of time spent on a project, the most creative project, the biggest impact with their work and are leaving a legacy for their project to continue benefiting their community partner.
From all of us at Ocean Conservancy, we’d like to extend a BIG thank you to Alex Amador, Jessica Rhea, Emmalyn Green, Bo Cherry, Sam Palmisano, Edward Thinger, Alexis Gann, Alexandra Milian, Lauren Morimanno, Sierra Pitts, Erika Schell and Victoria SanFilippo for your hard work. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the years to come.