Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nickelodeon Honors North Hampton, NH Student

Seacoast Online is reporting the exciting news that Nickelodeon USA recently honored North Hampton, NH eighth-grader Abigail Saltmarsh by selecting her as the networks national spokesperson to kick off Nickelodeon's "Get Dirty" pro-social program and as the networks HALO Effect honoree for April 2015!

In the span of one month, eighth-grade student Abigail Saltmarsh went from giving a classroom presentation to being selected a national spokesperson to kick off Nickelodeon's "Get Dirty" campaign and winning a HALO Effect Award.

"To take something starting very small to a national televised forum and to be able to share a message, we had no idea it was going to turn into this," said Abigail's mother Tina Saltmarsh.

It all started with a classroom project.

For the last 50 years seventh- and eighth-graders at the North Hampton School had competed in an oratorical contest where students had a chance to speak on a subject they were passionate about.

"This year we decided to mix it up" said eighth-grade teacher Lauren de Constant.

The presentations went from an oratory contest to something named WE Talks (think "TED Talks"), which included a digital component and were videotaped for online viewing.

Over 100 students presented on subjects ranging from psychology to sports to social issues.

Abigail gave her talk called the "Elephant Connection,", about the hunting and killing of elephants in the illegal ivory trade.

"I've always liked elephants," Abigail said. "I always thought they were really intelligent and smart and felt really connected to them. When I found out their population was decreasing I felt sad and wanted to do something to help them"

Abigail Saltmarsh recently won a HALO Effect Award and was selected to be a national spokesperson to kick off Nickelodeon's “Get Dirty” campaign. Photo by Jesse Migneault

After Abigail's presentation her mother shared the recording via YouTube with family members unable to attend. She also sent a link to the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), a charity she had worked with in the past and was a great source of inspiration for Abigail.

"I thought they may want to post it on their social media sites," said Saltmarsh. "A week later WCS asked if they could share the tape with Nickelodeon."

Nickelodeon at the time was searching for a spokesperson to launch its "Get Dirty" campaign, which honors kids and teens that make a difference in the environment and with conservation.

Nickelodeon officials watched the tape and decided to fly Abigail and her mother to Zoo Atlanta for three days to shoot the segment for their campaign. At Zoo Atlanta, Abigail met with two elephants, fed them and even had a chance to paint with them!

"I was a little bit nervous at first but I was mostly just really excited about sharing my message about the elephants," Abigail said.

The piece first aired on Nickelodeon on Saturday 28th March 2015 following the Nickelodeon 2015 Kids' Choice Awards, and has since been running about 14 times a day.

"I was not used to being filmed, but I enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun," explained Abigail. "I really liked to see how it was made. How much time and effort goes into a short video – we see them on TV but we never realize how much work goes into them."

One week later, news arrived that Abigail had been chosen to receive Nickelodeon's HALO Effect Award. The award honors young people who strive to make a difference in their community and in the world. It also includes a $5,000 donation to a charity of their choice, (Abigail chose the WCS).

Looking to the future, Abigail would like to continue to work with the WCS as well as helping other animal species.

"If you're passionate about something you just need to get out there and do it," Abigail said. "If you just try it, it will probably go somewhere and it will make a difference."

Abigail also spreads her passion for the environment and animals through a myriad of eco-themed programs including the North Hampton School's recycling, composting, gardening and beautification committees.

Saltmarsh was seven years old when she first began tackling environmental issues. A beach clean-up project with her Girl Scout troop, in which they removed several pounds of trash left behind on a local beach, made her aware of the role humans play in polluting the environment and inspired her to make a change.

Through her work, Saltmarsh aims to show other kids and teens that even small actions can have a big impact on the environment, like reducing waste and the use of chemicals by composting food scraps to produce natural fertilizer for vegetable and flower gardens, among other ways. Saltmarsh also bakes dog treats and collects funds for her local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

You can watch Nickelodeon's exclusive interview with Abigail Saltmarsh here on!
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