Daniell Washington says, “My passion for the ocean has been in my heart since I was 6 years old.”
Now, several years after her graduation from the University of Miami, Washington is following her passion as a marine biologist – and inspiring youth to take care of the oceans as the CEO of the Big Blue & You Foundation.
“I stuck with it through the support of my parents and my family and everyone around me,” says Washington, 25, who has been named to theGrio’s list of 100 Americans making history in 2012.
Her curiosity about the sea carried through her childhood all the way to UM, where she majored in marine science and biology and interned with NOAA. But it was after her graduation in 2008 that her dream came to fruition.
In August of that year, she entered and won first place in the ROXY “Follow Your Heart” contest, which was followed by a 12-stop “Follow Your Heart Tour.”
Washington has done just that – creating a television show for kids about ocean conservation. She won $10,000 and used the money to create the Big Blue & You Foundation with her mother, Michelle Swaby.
“It’s a nonprofit that is totally dedicated to inspiring and educating children about the ocean and all of our water resources, through service learning, visual arts, and media,” Washington says.
Through the foundation, Washington and her mother educate and inspire young people about the importance of our ecosystem, and why we should protect our marine environment and nature in general.
“The ocean itself provides 50 to 60 percent of the oxygen that we breathe every day in our atmosphere,” she says.