Friday, June 23, 2023

Lorenzo McCleese awarded Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship

High school senior to attend the University of Washington

Lorenzo Flores McCleese has been awarded the 2023 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewards Scholarship. This annual $1,500 scholarship from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center honors retired PTMSC Executive Director Anne Murphy while helping a graduating East Jefferson County senior prepare for a career in science and the environment.

Lorenzo has been interested in science his whole life. When he was six, his passion for animals and ecosystems inspired in him the lofty goal of "saving the environment and all its organisms." He was only eight when he began volunteering at PTMSC, introducing visitors of all ages to the creatures in the aquarium and their intertidal environment. That same year he spoke to an audience of 250 at the annual PTMSC dinner and auction. His passionate presentation helped set a new fund-raising record. More recently, Lorenzo volunteered as an aquarium aide.

During his years at Port Townsend High School, Lorenzo’s interest in the environment led him to work as a crew leader for beach cleanups, invasive plant removals, and other work parties at the Northwest Watershed Institute’s Youth Environmental Stewards (YES) program. As a member of the Students for Sustainability Club, he helped achieve a plastic straw ban, a car idling ban, and various campus improvements. He also played basketball and volleyball, and was a founding member of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) student union.

This summer he’ll continue part-time work setting up BIPOC family events for the YMCA and handling lighting, camera work, setup, and breakdown for Centrum events. He’ll also be running a BIPOC podcast for Black Lives Matter of Jefferson County.

"Figures such as Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Carl Sagan, and David Attenborough have personally inspired me to work in the environmental field and make a global impact,” Lorenzo said. "Being a person of color, I am underrepresented in many professions, quite noticeably in environmental fields. As I grow to work in this field, I will inspire marginalized youth to chase their dreams and not let the status quo stop them."

Lorenzo in his younger years, discovering his love of the Salish Sea
Although he’s not sure which profession he will end up in—wildlife biologist, ecologist, and environmental lawyer are among the possibilities--Lorenzo plans to study Environmental Science & Terrestrial Resource Management at the University of Washington.

"In my professional career, I aim to reach as many people as possible and inspire them to impact our earth positively," Lorenzo said. "I want to be a part of a future where governments collaborate, and proper funding is allocated to save our planet's precious ecosystems and ways of life. I want to work on the right side of history in a battle between change and ignorance.”

Lorenzo hasn’t had much experience traveling, and hopes to explore other parts of the world through his education and work. “But I think I’ll always find my way back here to the Salish Sea.”

blog post written by Jenna Kinghorn. photos by Al McCleese

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