Winner for Activism: Margo Pellegrino

By Jacquelyne Froeber
March 12, 2009
 Winner for Activism: Margo Pellegrino
David Hillegas

Margo Pellegrino always tells her children, Billy, 7, and Julia, 4, that with passion and determination they can accomplish anything. “They would never forgive me if I were all talk,” Margo says. So she packed her GPS and pocketknife, launched her outrigger canoe into the Atlantic, and embarked on a three-month journey from Miami, Florida, to Camden, Maine. Along the way, she spoke with political leaders, community members, and the media about water pollution, overcrowded shorelines, and vulnerable marine life.

 Margo traveled about 40 miles a day, paddling through 50-mph winds, thunderstorms, and powerful currents and swells. Margo’s husband, Carl, tracked her whereabouts from home. A “chase car” driver from the National Environmental Trust, Emily Rothman, followed her from Georgia to Maine to help with events, supplies, and shelter. And supporters from the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation opened their homes for lodging.

Since that trek, she has also paddled 500 miles to Washing-ton, D.C., to urge Congress to increase their efforts. And she plans to take her message soon to the Gulf of Mexico: “Everyone needs to take on a leadership position when it comes to saving our oceans.”

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Winning Strategies!

• Completed a 2,000-mile coastline trek in 11 weeks

• Conducted events, speeches, and conferences

• Challenged overfishing and water pollution

• Drew attention to endangered reefs and dwindling beaches