Justin Cucchi
Justin Cucchi

Justin Cucchi, a sophomore at Grady High School, was one of 15 students from the United States selected to participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ocean for Life program at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary over the summer.

He was one of 30 students, including 15 from the Middle East, to be selected out of nearly 400 applications for the program. He completed the highly competitive application process in the spring by writing a series of essays on the importance of the ocean, the interconnectedness of the world’s ocean, how local actions impact the ocean,and his ideas for promoting ocean conservation. Justin is a sophomore honors student at Grady High School where he pursues his conservation interests through the school’s Earth Club, an environmentally themed service-learning club. He spends his free time at the Atlanta Zoo where he participates in the volunteer program educating thepublic about animal conservation topics and providing information about zoo animals. He is also a competitive swimmer with the DeKalb Aquatics swim team and the Grady High School swim team.

The Ocean for Life program is designed around three main themes: a sense of place, interconnectedness, and ocean conservation and stewardship. Activities focus on ocean science and exploration, cultural exchanges, stewardship activities, and the development of youth media projects. Justin and his fellow students documented their experiences through video and photography, as well as being mentored by staff from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society Media Camp and American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.