Zola Berger-Schmitz, age 15, a resident of Venice, California and a student at Archer School for Girls is a winner of Action For Nature’s 2012 International Young Eco-Hero Award. Berger-Schmitz was honored for her environmental activism and her willingness to speak up for her generation.
When Zola realized that the ocean was a fascinating world parallel to our own, yet also a world in growing danger, she felt empowered to speak up.. Her biggest effort focused on supporting the adoption of "marine protected areas" along the coast of southern California. To help create these areas, Zola spoke at multiple public hearings across California, circulated numerous petitions, produced a short film, spread the word to peers, and spoke up from a young person's perspective about preserving marine life on California’s coast for the benefit of future generations. She later started a Green Team at her school and has become a youth activist in fighting for legislation to ban single-use plastic bags.
Zola is committed to making adults respect the opinions of youth and is working to foster and lead other environmentally conscious youth because she believes young people must "step up to the plate and become champions of their own beliefs.”
Every year since 2003, Action For Nature (AFN), a U.S.-based non-profit, has recognized young people ages 8-16 who are taking important steps to solve tough environmental problems. Youth from countries around the world send in their stories and explain their work. A panel of judges including experts in environmental science, biology and education determines the year's winners.