Meet local hero Danni Washington-Leading diving’s NEXT generation
(DiverWire) Daniell (Danni) Washington loves the water – and she loves teaching young minds. So, she created a way to combine the two – the Big Blue & You Foundation.
For three years, Danni has been hydrating the minds of young people, filling them with knowledge about our water systems through hands-on learning experiences. Big Blue has organized many special events, most recently partnering with StreetWaves offering an Art by the Sea day and hosting the One Water Workshop while partnering with Miami World Cinema Center. “During the workshop high school students are challenged to construct innovative messages that communicate their own perspective on the issue of water conservation” states Danni on her website. This year they made three new public service announcements addressing issues such as plastics, recycling and pollution.
For her efforts, Danni was recently honored as one of the “Top 40 under 40” in South Florida.
Danni is also an ecogeek on Untamed Science, a BioAdventure teaching series for students from elementary to high school. In a Life Science chapter called Zen Diving, she put her SCUBA skills to use. She begins on a beach doing yoga while covering the function of the human lungs and how they processes gas exchange, then talks about breathing in different mediums such as water or space. Next they see her board a dive boat and explain the specialized equipment that allows divers to breathe underwater and plunge below the surface. The sequence transitions to discuss how fish diffuse oxygen from the water through their gills and ends with her encouraging students to “never stop exploring your world.” Excellent example of using diving to educate, working hand-in-hand to make learning fun in the classroom. That also happens to be were she became interested in going beyond the limits of snorkeling and freediving.
While attending a marine science magnet high school in Broward County Florida, Danni became certified. During her senior year she was lucky enough to go to South Africa to assist with a great white shark research project. Some field trip! Although she didn’t get to dive with the white sharks, she did have her most memorable dive to date in the Capetown Aquarium swimming with sand tigers, also know as raggy’s. “It was incredible, the best experience to watch them swim inches over your head,” Danni stated.
She has been referred to as a “Green Collar Hero” and an “Ambassador to the Sea.” At age 6 she knew she wanted to be a marine biologist. It was a natural progression to become a certified diver and obtain a BSA from University of Miami, where she double majored in Marine Science and Marine Biology. During a research dive class for UM, Danni traveled to north Florida’s Little Salt Spring and helped a marine geologist excavate dinosaur bones. While a thrilling expedition, it wasn’t her dream to be in a lab. She wanted to be the host of an Environmental TV show, inspiring youth to be stewards of the ocean.
That dream took a step forward when Danni won the Roxy, “Follow your Heart” contest. With the funds she received, she started BB&Y with a mission statement: to inspire, educate and empower today’s youth to become stewards of the Earth and guardians of the Oceans through fun and educational interactions that encourages them to initiate change by being tomorrow’s leaders. She has upheld that purpose through her programs and will continue as the foundation begins creating webisodes. “If I can turn that into a series on TV it would be great” Danni stated.
So what’s next on her agenda? Bringing families together for an all-inclusive charity cruise on October 21st – 24th as Big Blue & You teams again with StreetWaves, an inner city youth surfing organization. They will be hosting a Bon Voyage Party, Barefoot Beach Party, Kids Ocean Art Workshop and a Blue Tie dinner. What a great way to get kids excited about the ocean! Want to join them? Rooms are still available, go to the Big Blue & You event page for details and sign up today!