Saint Mary's junior Molly Paul '16 represented Saint Mary’s School as one of six students nationwide selected to participate in the Action for Nature Youth Panel during the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) annual conference hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh, Tuesday, October 21. Molly - along with the other five award-winning youth conservationists - spoke about environmentalism, leadership and entrepreneurship in a panel discussion led by Dr. Emelyn Koster, director of the museum. All six student panelists - including students from California, Florida and North Carolina - have had their work recognized by many organizations, including “Action for Nature” as “International Young Eco-Heroes.”
The youth panel event, held in the SECU Daily Planet Theater at the museum, marked the first time in the 40-year history of ASTC that a collective youth voice was included in the annual ASTC conference.
"It was compelling to hear the courageous voices of these young environmentalists and conservationists speak about their projects and causes and what they hope to accomplish in the future," said Mary Virginia Swain, a Saint Mary's staff member who attended the panel event. "Listening to the hopes and dreams of these accomplished young people for the future of the environment, and learning about the extraordinary projects they are already working on, was refreshing and inspirational. I was particularly proud of Molly as she represented Saint Mary's with such intellect, passion and grace."
The presentation included a video message from Dame Jane Goodall - primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees – who recognized and congratulated the young conservationists by name.
"We at Saint Mary’s are clearly delighted by Molly’s recognition as an “international Young Eco-Hero” and are honored to have her as a member of our academic community," said Sarah Hanawald, dean of teaching and learning at Saint Mary's School.
The panelists also toured the museum, visited with students in classrooms at Moore Square Middle School and had lunch with the principal of Moore Square as well as the principal of the Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy.
On Friday night, October 17, Molly, representing the museum, also participated in the keynote address at ASTC with Dr. Hayat Sindi, founder of i2 and recipient of the Civil Society Award from President Bill Clinton. Molly served as emcee for the student Q&A segment of Dr. Sindi’s presentation, welcoming the crowd of some 1,800 people in English, French, Spanish, Khmer and Arabic.
"I was honored to represent Saint Mary’s and have felt very supported through my academic experiences here," said Molly. "I hope our panel discussion and meeting with Moore Square Middle School was successful in reaching out and inspiring other youth to take action in their communities."
Molly is a junior curator at the museum and founder/director of “Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption.” She re-homes unwanted pet turtles, mostly the Red-eared slider, which is an invasive species; fundraises for North Carolina conservation efforts through the sale of Molly’s Turtle Soaps; and founded STEM Leadership Camp. Molly’s work has been recognized by the State of North Carolina, the City of Raleigh, the Junior Leagues of Raleigh and Greensboro and with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Molly accompanied Dr. Koster in May to Washington, D.C., to accept the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal from First Lady Michelle Obama.