Florida teen wins cash award from Disney for her volunteer mangrove restoration work

Maegan Mikkelson kneels at the edge of a 4-acre pond at Galt Preserve in Florida. Using a stick to dig a well before guiding the roots of a red mangrove seedling into it.

In April of 2017, she was awarded a $500 Disney Summer of Service grant for her volunteer work. “Mangroves are extremely vital to the environment,” Mikkelson said. “They are a hurricane buffer, protect shorelines, (and) are a habitat and ecosystem for the fish.

The Cape Coral 17-year-old has been planting the “walking trees” over five years at the St. James City site and watching them grow, rimming the pond along the sandy shore. The tallest are 6 feet, the newest about 18 inches, and they are reclaiming their space among exotics such as the Australian pine and melaleuca.

Galt Preserve. Photo courtesy of Lee County.

Galt Preserve consists of twelve plant communities, including mangrove swamp and mesic flatwoods. The preserve is also home to a variety of bird and animal species, including bald eagle, bobcat and American alligator. One of the big success stories of this preserve is that a pair of bald eagles began to nest following the removal of the invasive exotic plant species, melaleuca.

Youth Service America (YSA) and Disney|ABC Television Group are teaming up this summer to inspire kids and families to make a positive impact in their community. Summer of Service grants will offer young change-makers $500 to gather their friends and turn creative ideas into projects that will positively impact their communities. Three hundred and forty winners will be awarded individual $500 grants to implement their projects. Select grantees will have a chance to be recognized by Disney|ABC or their local ABC Affiliate. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2016 at YSA.org/BeInspired.

Disney Friends for Change, through YSA, will award $500 grants to young change-makers who are working to create a brighter tomorrow.

This project has been amazing! I am thankful to be apart of this opportunity to do something so important for our community. I am excited to see it ‘grow’!” says Mikkelson.

See Maegan Mikkelson’s Facebook page & feature photo credit.

See Summer of Service website.

See Galt Preserve website.

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