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Winners of the JEDI Ocean Award Announced

For Immediate Release

June 24, 2021


Hannah Hindley,, 707-206-2073 (cell)

Madeleine Serkissian,, 707-799-3980 (cell)

Angela Morgan, 707-217-8244 (cell)

[Glen Ellen, CA] This week, Marine Conservation Institute announces the recipients of the first annual JEDI Ocean Award for Sonoma County teens. The JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) award celebrates local Black, Latinx, POC and Indigenous Sonoma County high school students interested in pursuing studies in marine science and conservation biology. This year’s winners are Kiara Lizarraga and Veronica Jaramillo.

In her winning essay, Lizarraga writes: “often when standing tall, taking in the breathtaking view over the cliff that scans over the ocean, we humans seem like a tiny pebble on the bottom of the ocean; yet, we have an incredibly immense impact on it.” The winner, who is a sophomore at Maria Carrillo High School, describes her “great respect and appreciation for the ocean, not just for being the largest carbon sink or being at least half of the Earth’s oxygen source but for allowing me to feel free, comfortable and inspired.”

Jaramillo, a junior at Roseland University Prep, says “I want to inspire others to have faith in the positive aspects of what we are facing, rather than being lost in despair  . . . I want to bring more awareness and connectivity to everyone, no matter their age, gender, or race.” In her winning application, Jaramillo writes: “I cherish the beauty of the ocean . . . Each granule of sand is like a human being, and the infinite beach that touches and reaches under the ocean is like the network of humanity.”

The JEDI Award, generously funded by the Jack London Yacht Club, will celebrate Lizarraga and Jaramillo with a monetary prize, a one-on-one mentorship session with a marine conservationist, an insider tour of Bodega Marine Laboratory, free enrollment in the Eco-Conscious Diver’s Complete Introduction to Marine Conservation course, and publication of their winning essays on Marine Conservation Institute’s internationally-read blog.

The team at Marine Conservation Institute believes that diversity is the key to resilience and growth—both in the ocean and in our communities. “Early recognition and celebration is key to inspiring enthusiastic young people to continue their studies in environmental fields,” says Dr. Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute, “and we hope that this award will inspire diverse students from Sonoma County to become tomorrow’s ocean leaders.”

This year’s winners of the JEDI Ocean Award: Kiara Lizarraga (L) and Veronica Jaramillo (R)