Above, Philippe Cousteau Jr. cofounded EarthEcho to empower young people to take an active role in meeting environmental problems in their communities. Courtesy of Earth Echo.

March 10, 2015

He’s the son of environmental documentary filmmaker Philippe Cousteau and grandson of conservationist/scientist, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, but Philippe Cousteau Jr. is making his own mark in conservation and carrying on his family’s legacy at the same time.

“If you’re old enough to remember, and our childhoods were in any way similar, it would certainly include many hours transfixed in front of the television watching the remarkable underwater adventures of the iconic Jacques Cousteau and the ship Calypso,” says Stephanie Oakes of Stephanie Oakes Communications, Inc. who along with her husband, Chris, is bringing Cousteau Jr. to Dallas for an event this month.  

Right, Philippe Cousteau Sr. and Jacques Cousteau. Courtesy of Rolexblog.blogspot.com.

“Chris and I, are proud to host Jacques’ grandson, Philippe Cousteau's first ever trip to Dallas,” Oakes says. “Philippe founded and runs EarthEco International and their mission is to empower youth to take action that restores and protects our water planet.”

While in Dallas on March 18, Cousteau Jr. will be speaking to a group of 500 students from area private and public schools, including Christ the King Catholic School, Jesuit Boys Prep, Ursuline Academy, Hockaday, Bishop Dunne, St. Marks and Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, at Christ the King Community Center in Dallas. Then later that day he will head outdoors for a field trip at the Trinity River Audubon Center to lead a small group of student scientists. 

“EarthEcho is thrilled to be launching our World Water Monitoring Challenge Program,” says Cousteau Jr. “We were invited to Dallas by philanthropic friends, Chris Maxtone-Graham of Morgan Stanley and his wife Stephanie Oakes who are active in supporting worthy causes like water conservation. They’ve arranged for an exciting, action packed day with our core constituent: kids.” 

All part of the organization’s program launch he will also take part in an event later in the evening at an area home in order to meet friends, greet supporters and raise awareness and funds to support EarthEco.

“What I love most about EarthEcho’s work is interacting with amazing organizations and young people around the globe who are committed to making the world a better place,” Cousteau Jr. says. “That is certainly true of our partners here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and we hope to make this the first of many trips to the area.”  

Above, Philippe Cousteau Jr. helps students on an EarthEcho project. Courtesy of EarthEcho.

All about the kids, EarthEcho International is the leading environmental education organization dedicated to building and activating a new generation of youth who will solve the most critical problems facing people and the planet. 

“We provide 21st century tools and resources that empower and equip young people to take action and solve environmental issues starting in their own communities and one great example is the program we are here to talk about in Dallas,” says Cousteau Jr. “By conducting simple water quality tests in their community and sharing the data through a network of citizens from more than 120 countries, kids become part of the solution for clean water and healthy waterways worldwide.”

As part of the Challenge, Earth Echo also provides educator and classroom resources that empower young people to develop and implement projects in their community to help improve the health of local water resources. 

“One of my EarthEcho colleagues likes to say that science is poking something with a stick and seeing what happens; we like to think that EarthEcho provides today’s young citizen scientists with a bigger, better stick,” he adds.

To that end, educators and families in North Texas can certainly be involved in the challenge since everyone is invited to participate in the EarthEcho World Water Monitoring Challenge, which officially begins on March 22. 

Although he was influenced by the work of his father and grandfather, Cousteau Jr. did not get to know his father. 

Left, young Philippe Cousteau Jr. with grandfather Jacques. Courtesy of CNN.com.

“My mother was pregnant with me when my father Philippe Cousteau Sr. died in a plane crash. It was really my mother Jan Cousteau who kept my father’s values and work alive for my sister Alexandra and me. We grew up like many kids with a single mother who worked hard to raise two kids by herself. She always found time to make our father a presence in our lives, and the lessons and stories of his work and adventures stay with me to this day.”

He says he was also very fortunate to spend a good deal of time with his grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau who helped him understand the importance of innovation and problem-solving when faced with a seemingly daunting challenge. 

“This is wisdom we incorporate into our work with young people at EarthEcho,” he explains. “Like the EarthEcho World Water Monitoring Challenge, many of our tools and resources focus on the role water plays in a healthy environment and healthy communities. When it comes to the environment and the future for all of us, it’s important to look at the whole picture, from climate change and ocean acidification to food production and global economics. It’s all connected and everything we do has an impact.”

Cousteau Jr. says another goal of the work he does at EarthEcho is helping young learners and leaders connect the dots when it comes to conserving and protecting the natural resources needed for survival.

Above, Philippe Cousteau Jr. talks more about growing up in his famous family in this Charlestoncitypaper.com Q&A.

“Nearly five years ago, I was in a classroom speaking to a group of students during the BP Gulf Oil Disaster. When I asked who they thought would clean up the mess, they all at once said ‘we will.’ I think that pretty much sums it up,” he says. “We are at a point in human history when we need to acknowledge our impact on the planet and take action to correct the damage to our environment and embrace different ways of doing things for a sustainable future. What gives me the most hope are the kids the EarthEcho team and I work with every day. They understand the urgency and they aren’t afraid to ask tough questions or tackle big problems.”

For more information, visit EarthEco.org. To learn about the World Water Monitoring Challenge Program, visit MonitorWater.org.

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