*six-two 35 under 35 changemaker of 2018 - six-two picks category
As a kid, growing up to become a marine biologist was pretty much ~the~ job to have. Most of us never got to reach that dream but Zander Srodes paved his own path to living and breathing the ocean every day by becoming a social entrepreneur and environmentalist with a passion for saving sea turtles.
When Zander Srodes was 11 years old, he had a life changing experience in Guatemala. He was playing on the beach with firecrackers when a local told him off because it disrupted the local turtle population. He met with the lady the next day (he now cites her as ‘the woman who would change my destiny’) and from that day forward his fascination with sea turtles and their plight became his life, leading to Turtle Talks being born.
Sea turtles are often hunted for their meat and eggs in Central America and if that wasn’t enough of a problem, if they survive the hunting, their homes are being destroyed by pollution and development. In a bid to raise awareness for this, Zander sought to educate people. He thought if he wanted to protect these wonderful creatures just by hearing about them, surely other people would too.
“I started talking to kids about why it was important to protect these animals that I cared so deeply for and I created an activity book that we got printed in a couple languages” – Zander Srodes
That book, Turtle Talks, went on to be printed in SIX languages and reproduced over 250,000 times. Zander gave all of them away for free to schools and community groups and the estimated reach of that has been TEN MILLION adults and children around the world. Pretty impressive right? And that’s we’ve nominated him for six-two’s 35 under 35!
Zander has gone on to print another activity book alongside expanding Turtle Talks to a full scale organisation that focuses on conservation, education and protection of sea turtles. Ten years later and Zander has been the recipient of many international awards such as the Presidential Environmental Youth Award, a prestigious award given for youths who have made a positive impact in the area of environmental conservation and protection.
While sea turtles may seem like one issue in a much bigger picture, Zander says protecting sea turtles means protecting all marine life and challenges everyone to find their passion project and make a positive change in this world
“I know that we all want to see change in the world. The hard part is finding that one thing that we could do to make a difference. I promise that if you walk outside wherever you are, there is an opportunity waiting for you.” – Zander Srodes
“It could seem as trivial as protecting sea turtles. I challenge you to do something that you have never done before, open your eyes and see what your community needs. People who have found their passion can trace it back to one moment. My hope is that you will find that one thing, because once you do, it will grab you by the hand and never let go.”
Want more Zander? Check out his TEDxTEEN talk below or his personal website here.
To learn more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative, and to see the individuals who made the list, head here.