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State Honoree

Megan Meimei Nakahara

Hawaii

Megan Meimei Nakahara, 14, of Kamuela, Hawaii, an eighth-grader at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, played a lead role in a monitoring project that collects data on Hawaiian green sea turtles and raises public awareness about the plight of this endangered species. Megan's interest in the turtles was sparked by a school field trip in the fourth grade. Two years later, when she encountered an opportunity to volunteer with a turtle-tagging group, she jumped at the chance. Megan first had to learn about the turtles so she could help educate the public about the project. Soon, she was going on regular data-collection trips, carefully measuring turtles' width, length, thickness and weight so that their growth could be tracked over time. Megan has participated in more than 20 such trips, and along with others in her school, has been working with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel to improve turtle research. "Working with live animals is special because you realize that they have no voice, so humans really need to take care of them," said Megan, who hopes to pursue a career in marine sciences.