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RJD Junior Ocean Ambassadors are rising up around the nation to save sharks. Learn about and support these incredible youngsters!

Sophi may be a soft-spoken Minnesota girl, but she is also a fierce shark advocate. By selling lemonade, hot chocolate, shark-shaped cookies, and special wristbands, she has raised nearly $4000 for RJD’s Adopt a Shark Program.

Sophi was named Oceana’s Youth Ocean Hero of 2011, and participated in a live painting fundrasier with Guy Harvey.

Her passion for the ocean was sparked during fishing trips in the Florida Keys with her uncle (and the RJD Field Expert) Captain Curt. After seeing first-hand a pregnant bull shark lying dead on a beach near Curt’s home, she knew it was time to take action.

Derrick Whitcomb

Derrick is the youngest of 5 (the only boy) and is in the 8th grade at Kenwood K-8 Center. He plays Alto Saxophone in the band and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. His favorite subjects are Math and Science. His goal is to become an ichthyologist.

Derrick enjoys all forms of athletics and has played on a number of teams— soccer, baseball, basketball, and flag football. For more than 7 years, he has been a member of a competitive jump rope team and competed in the Junior Olympics each year for speed, power and freestyle.

Another aspect of Derrick’s life is his love of animals and nature. Since he was young, caring for animals has been a big part of his life. He currently has 2 dogs, a rabbit and a fish tank.

At 13 a Jewish boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah, taking his place as a man in the Jewish Community. An important part is doing mitzvot (good deeds) and to do one’s part to “repair the world” (Tikkun Olam). Derrick’s mitzvah project (service project) revolves around helping to save the ocean and the sea life in it.

He did this by raising awareness of the ways we can help marine conservation and by raising money for UM-RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (Adopt-a-Shark).

Once he raises $2,000 (the cost of tagging), a shark will be tagged for research.

How you can help:

  • Buy a RESPECT (the shark!) wristband – all proceeds benefit Adopt-A-Shark
  • Join in a Coastal Clean Up
  • Make a donation to RJD in support of Derrick’s efforts

Sara Benes

Sara Brenes is an impressive tenth grade, National Honor Society student at Boca Raton Preparatory School in Boca Raton, Florida with a long list of credentials, many of them pertaining to her passion for sharks. Her love affair with sharks began as a four year old wandering the bookstore, until she stumbled across some books on sharks.

Now at the age of 16, Sara is an avid diver as her love affair with the prehistoric shark continues. Sara is a relentless model for marine conservation spending her free time almost exclusively on educating the public. You can find Sara running ‘shark advocacy week’ at her school or selling wristbands and shark cupcakes at a booth at the mall, talking up the benefits of sharks to the people passing by. Sara recently received a $1,500 donation through her enrollment in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, to assist her in her fundraising activities. Sara is fully committed to exposing the truth about the benefit of sharks to the ocean and her fundraising benefits different shark organizations, including the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program. While diving in Key Largo, she earned the title of shark whisperer, based on her fearless diving, as she calmly allowed sharks to swim freely around her.

Sara has become a junior spokesperson through her interviews with radio stations, 97.3 and 93.1, and upcoming interviews with the Miami Herald and Sport Diver Magazine. Her most recent experience was a documentary filmed by the City of Coconut Creek discussing her passion for sharks and her organization, sharkwhisperer.org.

Sara’s makes a point of going shark diving as often as she can to prove to people that sharks are not the man eaters that they are portrayed as in the media. She has already been on shark dives in Key Largo, Fiji, Australia, in Epcot and the Bahamas. In October, she will be cage diving with Stan Waterman to see the Great Whites in Guadalupe.

She is also an active member of the Sea Scouts program and has been appointed the conservation officer for the group. Additionally, she is on the outreach educational team for Shark Diver Magazine.

Step 1

Click the ‘Donate Now’ Button here.

Step 2

Under the designation drop-down menu, select the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program.

Step 3

Fill in your information, specifying in the comments sections any designations such as, Student Scholarship, Educational Outreach, etc.

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