Megan Brown (right) presents a $2,000 check to Laura Huffman (center), state director for the Texas program, as world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle looks on.
High school senior Megan Brown started out the school year wanting to do something to help the planet. In the process, this industrious 18-year-old has become an inspiration for conservationists of all ages.
Last fall, Megan started her independent study class at New Braunfels High School, only about 15 miles from San Antonio, Texas, with a simple goal – advance conservation. The independent study class lasts the entire school year and provides students an opportunity to work in a field of interest with the help of a “real-world” mentor.
“I knew I wanted to work with The Nature Conservancy immediately,” Megan said. “My dad and my grandmother have been members, and I knew it was a good organization to support.”
The specifics of her project didn’t come together, however, until November 2010 when she connected with her mentor, Jeff Weigel, director of strategic initiatives for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. With Jeff’s guidance, Megan decided to organize a 5K run to benefit restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Megan is a truly inspiring young woman who was able to produce a fun, well organized event in a superb fashion,” Jeff said. “We are grateful that Megan chose to help The Nature Conservancy and raise awareness about the work in the Gulf.”
5K Run for the Gulf
Once the concept was set, Megan, only 17 years old at the time, began the hard work of arranging logistics, recruiting volunteers, fundraising, generating publicity, securing sponsors and signing up runners. Working at night, on the weekends and in between classes, Megan tackled the job of event manager like a pro.
She held a few benefit nights at the local Panda Express restaurant, organized a benefit garage sale, posted flyers around the community and ads in the local paper, and secured a guest spot on KTSW 89.9 FM, the student station of Texas State University. Megan worked with the local runner’s club and even created a Facebook event page to help spread the word.
Her hard work paid off. More than 50 people, from high school students to retirees, participated in the race held on a beautiful spring day in April. Live entertainment, event T-shirts and a worthy cause combined to make the run a resounding success.
Raising $2,000 for restoration work in the Gulf of Mexico, the event was so much more than a school project or even a fundraiser. “It was really a way to engage our community in a cause that’s affecting our own backyard,” Megan said.
A Future in Conservation?
As Megan graduates from high school this year, her future is wide open. Slated to start her freshman year at Texas State University in the fall, the enterprising teen is toying with the idea of journalism school, but hasn’t decided just yet.
“I want to keep my options open and explore different fields,” she said. “I’d like a job where I can make a difference and the conservation field let’s you do that.”