Earth Optimism Teen Event

Free Earth Optimism Teen Event – Sunday, April 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Free Event for Teens Ages 13-19


Come Celebrate Earth Optimism with the National Museum of Natural History!

For the first time ever, Q?rius will be closed to the public and open only to a limited number of registered teens + conservation leaders, scientists, rappers, photographers, artists and more!

  • Be Empowered: Learn how you can get involved in conservation efforts
  • Be Informed: Talk with scientists, climate leaders, and teen activists about issues
  • Get Involved: Get information on internships, opportunities and places to go, locally and globally
  • Hang Out: Meet other local teens who are interested in science

Participating Organizations:

  • Student Conservation Association
  • Alliance for Climate Education
  • Koshland Science Museum
  • Global Co Lab Network – Teens Dream 
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Conservation Leaders | ScientistsTeen Leaders | Organizations


Octavio Aburto

Octavio is an award-winning professor, photographer and conservationist whose research and photographs have focused on marine reserves and commercially-exploited marine species and their fisheries.

Man swimming under water dressed in red and black, wearing snorkeling gear, and holding a camera.

Marvo Dolor

Marvo is an environmental chemist serving as a bridge between scientists and policymakers. She's working towards more sustainable use of freshwater to ensure we have enough clean water to drink, grow food, and generate energy.

Smiling woman wearing glasses and hoop earrings.

Michelle LaRue

Want to know about how to study species from space? Talk to Michelle, an ecologist and science communicator at the University of Minnesota, where she uses satellite imagery to study polar animals. Michelle's research focuses on the effects of climate change on the ecosystem in the Southern Ocean.

Woman with blonde hair and a purplish-brown jacket, standing in front of green land, a body of water and a cloudy sky.

Devi Lockwood

Devi is a writer, folklorist, and environmental activist. For the last three years she has been traveling in 11 countries, mostly by bicycle (and sometimes by boat), to make audio recordings of 1,001 stories about water and climate change told by people she meets (

A woman wearing a black shirt, holding a sign that says, "Tell me a story about climate change."

Emma Maschal

Emma loves going to the beach, and she is great at talking trash because her passion is to save the sea turtles by preventing litter in the environment. She once counted the microbeads in a dime-sized amount of toothpaste. Emma studied at Duke University for her Master of Environmental Management with a focus on plastic pollution in coastal environments.

Woman with long, blonde hair wearing a blue baseball cap and wearing a jacket. She is smiling.

Brian Stilwell

Brian is an associate program director at the Alliance for Climate Education, where he organizes with high school students to fight for climate justice. During his free time, Brian can be found bicycling around his home city of Boston, playing soccer and eating as much ice cream as humanly possible.

A smiling man with brown hair, glasses, and a blue-checked shirt.

Diogo  Verissimo

Diogo is a Portuguese biologist turned storyteller. His latest project aims to make nature the next big thing, by sharing inspirational and surprising stories about animal species that managed to survive against all odds, and of the adventurers that never gave up on them.

Smiling man with brown hair, multicolored choker necklace, orange shirt, and blue jacket.


Nicole Frances Angeli

Nicole is a predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian — which might sound boring, but she gets to drive a boat past sharks and pelicans to visit remote islands to test the best ways to save endangered lizards in the Caribbean.

Woman with blonde hair and gray t-shirt, with a small, brown lizard perched on her index finger.

Nathaniel Evans

Nat is a Smithsonian postdoc fellow who visits tropical reefs and natural history museums to discover new species and study the evolution, ecology and biodiversity of crabs.

Man in a blue t-shirt holding a blue crab in front of him.

Eric Hollinger

Eric is an archaeologist who helps the Smithsonian study ways of reducing its environmental impacts by diverting its waste to recycling and composting. By looking at "trash" as artifacts and as materials that should be recovered rather than thrown "away,” the Smithsonian tries to change the way people think and behave for the better.

Man wearing a gray baseball cap and green t-shirt holding what looks like dirt in his cupped hands.

Laetitia Plaisance

Laetitia is a coral reef ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution who studied in France and decided to travel the world to follow her calling: Studying the hidden biodiversity of coral reefs and raising awareness on how those beautiful and fragile ecosystems need our protection.

Woman with long, brown hair wearing a blue spaghetti-strap top. Behind her is water and a tree-covered shoreline.

Meagan Vakiener

Meagan is a doctoral student at the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, which is a complicated way of saying she gets paid to travel to Africa to excavate skeletons of endangered mountain gorillas, to better understand and protect living gorillas.

Woman wearing a shirt with horizontal gray and white stripes, smiling while holding an animal skull in front of her.

Nikki Vollmer

Nikki uses DNA to learn about the relationships among dolphins and whales. She works with groups of scientists and travels around the world to get skin samples from wild animals and bring them back to the lab to study their DNA.

Woman in a ski hat and jacket, standing up and looking through an eyepiece.

Amanda Windsor

Amanda loves crabs and has managed to turn that love into a job at the Food and Drug Administration, where she works on finding new ways to identify the seafood on your plate.

Woman wearing sunglasses and white t-shirt, with her arms crossed, sitting next to a statue that has its arms crossed.


Teddy Ammon

Teddy is a high school student and musician from Washington, D.C.

School of fish in blue water

Emily Bee

Emily is a D.C. program alumni and National Crew alumni for the Student Conservation Corps. She started working with SCA in 2015 as a member of the DC Community Summer Program. She was a member last year of the DC Conservation Leadership Corps and is involved in the CLC program again this year as a returning member. Emily was on a three-week National Crew during summer 2016 working in the New Jersey park system. 

School of fish in blue water


Jayo is an 18-year-old rap artist from southeast London. After creating a prize-winning music video for the Teensdream contest (2015), he is now a Teensdream ambassador. His track "Teen With A Dream” was inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Young black man wearing a black jacket, smiling, with his arms crossed.

Amee  Kapadia

Amee is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School and has worked with the Alliance for Climate Education for the past two years. She's particularly interested in environmental policy and loves to cook, sing, and try new types of tea in her free time.

School of fish in blue water

Brian  McDermott

Brian McDermott is a freshman at American University, a Senior Action Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education, and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Brian is passionate about fighting for climate justice and has worked on campaigns to make his home state of Massachusetts divest from fossil fuels and commit to 100 percent clean energy. Brian loves writing, is a political junkie and a huge soccer fan. 

Smiling man with brown hair, glasses, and blue shirt with red trim.

Melenia Rojas

Melenia is a D.C. program and National Crew alumni for the Student Conservation Corps. She was a member last year of the DC Conservation Leadership Corps and is involved in the CLC program again this year as a returning member. Melenia was on a three-week National Crew during summer 2016 in San Antonio Mission National Historical Park in Texas.

School of fish in blue water

Sylvie Yang

Sylvie is a D.C. program alumni and National Crew alumni for the Student Conservation Corps. She was a member last year of the DC Conservation Leadership Corps and is involved in the CLC program again this year as a returning member. Sylvie was on a four-week National Crew during summer 2016 in Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota.

School of fish in blue water


Alliance for Climate Education

The mission of the Alliance for Climate Education is to educate young
people on the science of climate change and empower them to take action.
Meet ACE teen leaders and talk about how to make a difference!

Alliance for Climate Education

Global Co Lab Network

The Global Co Lab Network is a virtual “do tank” that empowers
inter-generational engagement focused on teens and millennials,
incubating initiatives out of carefully designed informal gatherings
such as living room salons, utilizing mindfulness and design
lab philosophies. Our first successful project is Teens Dream,
a global video contest on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Global Co Lab Network - Engaging the Next Generation

Koshland Science Museum - Nell Champlin-Scannell

Nell is a newcomer to the science world with a background in history and
art. She brings creativity to her currently job at Koshland Science
by designing hands-on science experiments and exciting field
trips for students in the DMV.

Smiling woman wearing sunglasses and a white shirt, while standing in front of a body of water.

NOAA - Symone Johnson

Symone is a marine biologist who has studied algae, blue crabs, horseshoe
crabs, and sharks. She is also an educator who is especially passionate about
educating young people on all things conservation. One of the ways she
achieves this goal is in her role as the host of NOAA's Ocean Today Every

Full Moon series.

Smiling woman with curly hair and a black, collared shirt.

Student Conservation Association

The Student Conservation Association is building the next generation
of conservation leaders by engaging young people in hands-on service
to the land. Join us in the Q?rius Lab for a quick service project and visit
our informational table to explore job opportunities with our organization!

Student Conservation Association