Captain Planet, Jane Goodall, Laura Turner Seydel and Ted Turner at the 2014 gala, where Goodall received the organization’s Exemplar Award // Photo by Donna Permell Photography
Saving the Earth from peril may sound like the stuff of superhero legend, but it’s precisely the mission of Atlanta-based Captain Planet Foundation (captainplanetfoundation.org). Co-founded in 1991 by media mogul and environmentalist Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle, and named for the cartoon superhero Turner helped create, the foundation has programs and grants that empower young people to protect the environment in myriad ways. Now, Turner’s daughter, Laura Turner Seydel, serves as the chairperson of the board. “For the first 20 years, we were a small grant-maker for educators,” she explains. “However, the organization has expanded to include the operation of four best-practice programs in youth environmental education and action.”
Laura Turner Seydel // Photo by Patrick Heagney
Some recent success stories include the Project Learning Garden program, which encourages teachers to use the gardens as an on-site learning lab for children and has funded more than 500 gardens in 26 cities, including more than 300 in Atlanta. A buzzworthy foundation-supported initiative is Ocean Heroes Bootcamp (co-founded by CPF), a radical collaboration between 14 ocean conservation organizations, which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex featured on their social media. Another web-based program is Project Hero, which uses local endangered species to teach kids kindergarten through 12th grade the principles of science. The list could—and does—go on and on.
Dole Packaged Foods is one of this year's honoree for its support of Project Learning Garden. // Photo courtesy of Captain Planet Foundation
CPF is also committed to recognizing other champions helping make the world a better place. On Nov. 16, the foundation’s annual gala—our city’s largest environmental fundraiser—will honor Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band, who is an environmentalist, tree farmer and co-founder of Mother Nature Network; reporter and author Richard Louv, who wrote Last Child in the Woods to inspire parents to create opportunities for their kids to experience nature; and Dole Packaged Foods for its support of Project Learning Garden and children’s nutrition. “What makes someone stand out as a [potential] awardee is their authentic game-changing engagement in advancing environment and children’s health,” Seydel says.
This year’s honoree Chuck Leavell of The Allman Brothers Band and Mother Nature Network // Photo by Allen Farst
This year’s honoree Richard Louv, a reporter and author // Photo courtesy of Captain Planet Foundation
Nearly 30 years after the foundation began, it’s having a global impact, thanks to programs that have served children in all 50 states and more than 26 countries around the world, including making small grants to recent projects in Kenya, Sierra Leone, the Philippines and Chile. Ever thinking forward, Seydel insists there’s more to do. “Our legacy will be having engaged and empowered millions of young people to be problem-solvers for the planet,” she says. It sounds like a superhero legend in the making.