To find TIME Magazine’s Kid of the Year, both TIME and Nickelodeon search the country to learn about children 8 to 16 years of age who exemplify determination, passion, kindness, bravery and innovation in unique ways that are changing the world. No small task, and most certainly, a giant-sized honor for the child that receives this level of recognition.
As finalists were identified, we were overjoyed to discover that one of our own extraordinary Tampa Bay residents made the top 20 list.
Miles Fetherston-Resch is known locally for ocean conservation through his Kids Saving Oceans nonprofit organization. However, this fourth grader at Shorecrest Preparatory School is also making headlines for his unparalleled passion, public speaking presence and entrepreneurial production.
Alongside Earth Day this month, here’s a story of a Tampa Bay kid you must know!
TBPM: Your mission-driven efforts began with watching Shark Week and Shark Tank. What is it about sharks that made you feel like you should step up to effect change and make a difference?
Miles: I learned during Shark Week that our sharks are in real trouble. They are apex predators, and we need them for healthy oceans. And a healthy planet! There are so many interesting kinds of sharks too and they get a bad reputation because people are scared of them.
I believe sharks should be respected and not feared. And when I started to pay attention and learn more about it, I saw that our oceans are sick, our beaches littered and our marine life dying. I do not believe this should be my generation’s inheritance. I knew I wanted to do something to help and after working to convince my mom, I started Kids Saving Oceans.
TBPM: From speaking to the St. Petersburg, FL City Council about banning plastic straws and polystyrene to beating out four local businesses to win $5,000 at the first-ever St. Pete Pitch Night, you have been presenting the mission of Kids Savings Oceans in front of adult audiences since you were 6 years old. Do you ever get nervous? How do you prepare for appearances like this?
Miles: Yes, I get nervous! It can be scary presenting in front of adults because sometimes they don’t take kids seriously. But my mom helps me prepare for my presentations and talks which helps my confidence.
I also take some time to take deep breaths before I speak. And I have a really fun pump-up playlist that I made before St. Pete Pitch Night that I still listen to!
TBPM: You’ve been called a Hero, a Champion a Good Burger among many other recognitions, and now you are a finalist for TIME’s Kid of the Year. What are your most proud accomplishments as a social entrepreneur?
Miles: The awards are amazing. I feel very honored to have been recognized here in St. Pete and elsewhere. I am most proud of seeing other kids my age realizing that we aren’t too young to make a difference and to want to do more to protect our planet.
I feel like I am making a difference in the money I raise, and also in the other kids who become passionate about saving our oceans and planet too.
TBPM: Who is your hero?
Miles: My hero is my mom, Jess. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and my passion. She is very supportive of me and my business and helps with the adult stuff like driving me to talks, events and other things. She has taught me it’s okay to make mistakes, that I’m not too young to make a difference and it’s important to stay true to myself and my beliefs.
When it comes to staying motivated in my pursuit for change, that part is easy – I want to be able to take my kids one day to swim in healthy oceans, walk on clean beaches and learn about thriving marine life.
TBPM: Tell us about the book you wrote.
Miles: My book is called “Kids Saving Oceans: Olivia Makes a Difference.” I was at an event a few years ago and local children’s author Tori McGee was there! I went up and asked her if she’d like to write a book with me and the rest is history! The process was really fun, and I really like how the illustrations turned out.
The story is about how Olivia wanted to do something to help – not like she helped her dad in the kitchen – but in a way that would really change the world. I won’t give away any spoilers, but it’s a story about how all of our individual choices – even for us kids – can add up to something BIG.
You can buy the book at Book + Bottle in St. Pete (one of my favorite local shops)! It’s also available online wherever you buy your books.
TBPM: Do you feel like other kids can relate to or appreciate what you’re doing as a founder? How have your friends shown their support?
Miles: I do! I think a lot of kids are surprised to hear that I started my own business, speak to grown-ups, organize clean-ups and wrote a book. I have had a lot of kids tell me that they now do cleanups around their neighborhoods or every time they go to the beach – and that makes me feel very proud of the work I’m doing.
My friends have been great! They go to cleanups I organize, help me come up with designs and even come work with me at my booth at local events!
TBPM: What are your goals for Kids Saving Oceans in 2022?
Miles: I have lots. First, I want to add at least six more designs to the ones I currently have. [for clothing and stickers on his website.]
Second, I want to continue organizing beach cleanups and talking to kids and grownups and politicians and business leaders about what we can all do to help protect our Florida beaches and water.
Third, I would like to find a business mentor who has expertise in raising money and I can ask them all the questions I have!
And finally, I would love to write a second book!
*Originally published in the April 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.
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