Wailuku teen Kaimana Idica, 18, was one of two runners-up for National Geographic’s inaugural Nat Geo Teen Service Award. The award is part of National Geographic’s ongoing effort to recognize extraordinary high school and middle school students who are making a difference through outstanding service work.
Idica, who attends Kamehameha School, was honored for his work educating the public about the impact of single-use plastic waste on the environment, both globally and locally, as well as eco-friendly alternatives.
Idica has made significant strides to help ban polystyrene take-out containers in Maui County. In 2015, he was a project leader of the #Sporkitup Instagram Challenge, which was designed to encourage young people to use eco-friendly bamboo eating utensils instead of single-use plastic. And in November 2016, he testified in favor of a ban on plastic bags and polystyrene food containers in front of a Maui County Council committee.
Idica is also one of the co-creators of “Carbon Funk”, a YouTube music video parody of “Uptown Funk” that focuses on climate change.
The National Geographic honor comes with a $500 scholarship towards college savings.
National Geographic Student Expeditions, which presented the award, is a program that offers travel and field work opportunities to high school and middle school students. The program allows students to follow in the footsteps of National Geographic experts, photographers, scientists and journalists on six different continents.
“Connecting with and benefiting communities around the world is a key focus of National Geographic Student Expeditions, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize students across the country who are making a difference in their own communities,” said Deb Friedman, Vice President, Independent and Specialty Travel.
Nearly 300 students were nominated for the award. Judging was based on the student’s positive impact on the community/planet, commitment to community service initiatives and the strength of his or her nominator’s case for why the nominee deserves the award. “We were blown away by the nominations we received for these Awards,” Friedman said.
The grand prize went to Alexa Grabelle, 15, of Voorhees, N.J. Grabelle was awarded for her work collecting and distributing books to low-income children through Bags of Books, a non-profit she founded at age 10. She will receive a community service trip with National Geographic Student Expeditions to Fiji and a $500 scholarship for her college savings. The second runner up award went to Delaney Reynolds, 17, of Miami, Fla.
In related news, Idica was one of four high school students to win a full four-year scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University in its #HPU4Hawaii Scholarship Challenge.
Photo courtesy National Geographic