CONWAY -- Starting in 2018, Juliana Ferrer began working toward her Gold Award in Girl Scouts, picking a topic she is passionate about and creating a sustainable project based off of it.
The result was a passion project: a 15-minute documentary about how people can help and advocate for sea turtles no matter how far they live from the ocean, along with a website for people to do their own environmental cleanups. It was completed in September 2020 with a presentation and after many rounds of paperwork, committee approvals and involving community partners.
“Whenever you're getting takeout, you can just request to not get the plastic silverware. You can just use your own, and that way you don't have all that plastic stuff that you don't use more than once. Things like that are really easy,” said the 17-year-old senior, graduating from St. Joseph School in Conway.
Her work for sea turtles and the environment can be traced to her love of ocean animals, but on a deeper level, it’s connected to her Catholic faith.
“God created all of this. And he created it so we could have it, and I think if we lose it, then we're losing something he gave us that he wants us to have. So I think we need to keep it,” Ferrer said.
The oldest of five children to Gabriel and Karen Ferrer, she has attended St. Joseph since preschool. In high school, Ferrer enjoyed playing on the varsity bowling team and Quiz Bowl, an academic quiz-based competition. Ferrer served as Quiz Bowl captain for two years and the team made it to state this year.
“I like to memorize a bunch of different things,” Ferrer said. “... I'm big on geography. I was kind of like the geography person, so I memorized all the capitals of every country.”
Outside of school, Ferrer has been involved in Girl Scouts for 10 years.
“I think the biggest lesson that I've learned would be that you don't need to be really scared to speak up and talk to people, because it's not that bad most of the time,” she laughed.
In the fall, Ferrer will attend Rollins College in Orlando to study marine biology, to one day be a marine veterinarian, helping injured sea turtles.
“I find it really fascinating how much they do for everything. They help everything in the environment and, through that humans,” she said, pointing to the diet of sea turtles. “... A lot of the species of sea turtles eat sea grasses, they help keep the seabed healthy. And if they didn't do that, it could cause a lot of erosion. So they're helping keep the beaches from eroding.”
Looking back on her years at St. Joseph, Ferrer said she’ll miss the community.
“St. Joseph has always been super encouraging of letting us explore ideas that we have, thoughts we have and trying to answer them as best they can. And I've always liked that,” Ferrer said.
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