By Joel Hall
The goal of the Frank Ski Kids Foundation, founded by V-103 FM on-air personality, Frank Ski, is to "expose kids to their future" by sponsoring them in enriching activities at home, and abroad.
Jill Martin, a rising sophomore at Lovejoy High School, who hopes to one day champion environmental causes as a White House advisor, is one of ten metro Atlanta teens who will travel with the foundation's "Planet Green" program to the Amazon rain forest.
From July 13-20, Martin, who lives in Riverdale, will join nine other students and travel to Manaus, Brazil, capital of the Amazonas state. During that time, students will learn about the environment through jungle treks, piranha fishing, alligator and pink Amazonian dolphin spotting, visiting native villages, and learning jungle survival techniques.
Ski, who grew up in New York City raising wild lizards, birds, snakes, and turtles, said that he has been concerned about the environment from a young age. He said the purpose of the Planet Green program is to teach young people about the importance of the environment.
"Deforestation and depletion of natural resources, such as the rain forest, have always been major issues for me," said Ski, in a released statement. "Without the help and intervention of today's youth, places such as the Amazon rain forest may not be in existence for future generations to benefit from.
"Seeing as these kids are the future leaders of our country, I feel that it is highly important for them to learn firsthand the importance of the Amazon and it's unique ecosystem."
An essay Martin wrote on preserving the environment beat out several dozen applicants from around the state. The winners of the Planet Green contest were announced in May, during a ceremony at Zoo Atlanta.
Martin, 14, whose favorite school subjects are biology and earth sciences, believes the trip will allow her to better illustrate the importance of the environment to others.
"I've always wanted to have some kind of political career, so when I entered into the contest, I thought it would give me an idea of some of the things I would be dealing with," said Martin. "I like to see how everything works hand-in-hand.
"You can say that you want to do something, and you can have a passion to do something, but in the Amazon, it's right in your face," Martin continued. "When I am actually in the Amazon, I will be able to see that this is worth protecting."
Greg Martin, Jill's father and a real estate agent in Riverdale, said he has exposed his daughter to many travel opportunities in the past, including trips to Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. He believes the trip will be "an experience that she will cherish for the rest of her life."
"I am glad that we have been able to take her to see some things," said the elder Martin. "I think traveling helps so much. It has really motivated her to want to see more.
"Hopefully she will learn something that can benefit her, her school, and the country," Martin said.