Hi! I’m Justin Sather. I’m 11 years old and working to create a healthier planet for my friends, family, the next generations, and my favorite animal–FROGS!

When I learned frogs are getting sick and dying because they are sensitive to the environment- I wanted to learn more. I learned that frogs breathe and drink through their skin and pollution, pesticides, and dirty pond and river water are some of the causes frogs are on the decline. When I learned frogs are indicator species–I knew frogs were a true sign that the planet needs our help.

My determination and work to save the frogs and help the planet led me to legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall. Dr. Goodall challenged me to take my work one step further and focus on plastic pollution. She told me there is only a small window of time before there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if nothing is done.

Since then, I have made tremendous efforts to learn the root cause of single-use plastics, the downfalls of recycling, and the negative effects plastic has on sea life and human health.

I’ve won numerous awards for my work including the President’s Environmental Youth Award and have been featured on Spectrum and ABC News for my efforts.

I’m also a youth Ambassador for Plastic Pollution Coalition and started “The Parallel Projects Campaign” in which I work with pen pals around the world to inspire youth to take better care of our planet.

My current project is working with The OceanClean Up’s Interceptor Boat Project which is cleaning up the most polluted rivers in the world. I’m working to support the next boat that is scheduled to start cleanups in Ballona Creek in Los Angeles. I believe the Interceptor Boat is a great starting point on bringing awareness to local students about our world’s plastic pollution crisis and is one step closer to creating a cleaner planet.

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What exactly is groundwater? Like the name suggests, groundwater is found in cracks of soil, sand and rock in the Earth, comprising almost all of the available freshwater [1]. It’s also one of human’s biggest water supplies: farmers rely on groundwater to irrigate their crops and pools rely on groundwater to fill their depths. This water we consume—that we bathe in, drink, and use for countless other purposes—is being used up in large amounts daily.

Two Tuesdays ago (March 20) was World Water Day, and its theme was “Groundwater, making the invisible visible.” All this water beneath the Earth’s surface is crucial beyond belief, yet its sources are being depleted at record rates. Take California for example, its recent drought causing California’s groundwater to be used up more quickly [2]. In California’s case, this used up groundwater may be really hard to recover naturally. According to UC Riverside research, 85% of Californians rely on groundwater as a water source, specifically private wells [3]. However due to the high volume of people using it, exacerbated by the drought, it’s changing up the ground’s density composition, resulting in land surface sinking [4].

It’s estimated that groundwater takes three years to recover without human activity hindering it. With constant movement of humans and constant dependency on its resources, researchers doubt it will ever recover. The government passed a law in efforts to preserve it: the SGMA (or Sustainable Groundwater Management Act). SGMA essentially states that sustainability agencies can control all future plans to preserve groundwater. SGMA also states that water is a shared asset and rules can be created to limit its use [5].

Water is what makes Earth so different from the rest of the planets in our solar system—it’s why life exists and humans are able to roam and learn like we do.

Water is important, but how exactly can we preserve what we have? A few ways we can proactively do our part can be regularly testing our water quality, using only the water you need (cut down on shower time, wash full loads of laundry instead of multiple small batches, etc.), and remaining aware about the state of our Earth since changes can affect the quality of groundwater, and just staying informed in general [6].

It’s a sacred natural resource, one that we should do our best to preserve. As nature works its forces, water, and clean groundwater, is what truly distinguishes planet Earth from the solar system. We should work together to save the water we have.

Sources Referenced





[5] ​​


Cover Image: Encyclopedia Britannica

Throughout its history, Africa has seen several periods of prolonged and extreme droughts across the continent that, along with malnutrition, poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and population displacement, cause food insecurity, exacerbate social inequity, boost mortality rates, and, perhaps most significantly, encourage disease outbreaks. Cholera is one such disease, and Africa has the highest global cholera burden. It is also a continent with many drought-prone regions. Despite this, research on cholera and droughts in Africa is lacking.

Vibrio cholerae is a water-borne bacterial pathogen, with symptomatic cholera causing profuse watery diarrhea and sudden onset dehydration [1]. The annual cholera burden is estimated at 1.3–4 million cases and 21,000–143,000 deaths annually [2,3], with >94% of these reported in Africa [4]. Several countries are beginning to show signs of endemicity and there is currently a Global Task Force on Cholera Control that aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90% by 2030 and eliminate cholera in 20 countries [5].

Less well understood is the impact of drought on cholera [1,2]. Droughts are a complex hazard and involve meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and societal changes [3]. Africa has seen several periods of extreme and extended drought [14]. Despite some studies suggesting links between drought and cholera outbreaks [3], this link, especially in Africa, has been widely under-studied in isolation. One suggested mechanism through which drought may catalyze cholera outbreaks is via increasing concentrations of V. cholerae in groundwater. For example, in Bangladesh cholera concentrations were 13-49% higher in dry weather drainage flow samples compared to wet weather samples from floodwater [5].

Climatic and environmental factors may only be influential in cholera outbreaks to a certain extent, after which socio-economic conditions are key drivers for outbreaks. Eight hundred and forty-four million people worldwide lack access to basic drinking water and a further 2.4 billion are without basic sanitation [5], putting many people at risk for diarrheal diseases. Human-induced factors may therefore be of equal importance for cholera dynamics with environmental factors due to a range of risk factors and potential cascades including poverty, sanitation, drainage, water quality, poor healthcare, malnutrition, and human behavior such as eating practices, all of which could be exacerbated by drought [3].

Future climate change may alter precipitation, temperature, and drought patterns, resulting in more extremes. Despite high uncertainty in future drought projections, increases in drought frequency and/or durations have the potential to alter these related outbreaks into the future, potentially increasing cholera burden in the absence of countermeasures (e.g. improved sanitation infrastructure). To enable effective planning for a potentially more drought-prone Africa, inequity must be addressed, research on the health implications of drought should be enhanced, and better drought diplomacy is required to improve drought resilience under climate change.

There is a need for involvement of people in water-related democratic dialogues at all levels to identify some of these challenges and their solutions by the local stakeholders. Democratizing water helps in bringing all stakeholders—governments, local governments, communities, private sectors, and non-profits—towards a common understanding of challenges to water quality and encourages looking for locally relevant solutions together.

[1] Ali M, Lopez AL, You Y, et al. The global burden of cholera. Bull World Health Organ. 2012;90(3):209–218.

[2] Germani Y, Quilici ML, Glaziou P, et al. Emergence of cholera in the Central African Republic. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 1998;17(12):888.

[3] World Health Organization. Cholera. [On-line]; 2020. Available from:

[4] Nkoko DB, Giraudoux P, Plisnier PD, et al. Dynamics of cholera outbreaks in Great Lakes region of Africa, 1978–2008. Emerg Infect Dis. 2011;17(11):2026.

[5] World Health Organization. Ending cholera a global roadmap to 2030. In: Ending cholera a global roadmap to 2030. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017, pp.4.

Cover Photo from unknown