Paying it forward
By Jill Heinerth
Last summer, I embarked on a transformative journey alongside the passionate young environmental scientist, Kayla Martin. It was a season that left an indelible mark on both our lives, a tale of mentorship, perseverance, and the power of community.
The story began when I seized a unique opportunity to nurture Kayla’s burgeoning talent. She was a beacon of potential, and I was determined to foster her growth. Drawing upon the network of organizations that support me, I took a leap of faith and dipped into my personal funds to launch an expedition. This venture was more than just a scientific mission; it was the next step in her career in environmental science and communication.
As we prepared for the adventure that lay ahead, we ventured into local waters, diving to enhance skills in the cold underwater environments we were about to explore and document. Yet, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Kayla needed more reliable gear to navigate these unforgiving waters. In this critical moment, when determination met resourcefulness, Suunto came to our aid by transferring my annual gear support to her. Hollis, recognizing the importance of our mission, provided Kayla with a state-of-the-art sidemount harness, and Fourth Element crafted a snug, protective drysuit to keep her warm in the chilly depths. I passed along essential equipment like a backup computer, my older Halo 3D undergarments, and various other items she required for our underwater expedition.
The result was a remarkable collaboration that transcended the boundaries of our initial project. Our shared dedication to environmental preservation and scientific exploration continues to flourish. Fast forward to the present day, and Kayla has emerged as a trailblazing leader in her field. This year, she is at the helm of an expedition dedicated to surveying an undocumented shipwreck, an endeavor that exemplifies her unwavering commitment to education, conservation, and groundbreaking environmental research.
Our journey serves as a testament to the profound impact that a helping hand and the right tools can have on shaping a promising career. Diving is an expensive passion, and the financial barriers often deter young enthusiasts from pursuing studies that could safeguard our precious planet. This experience has reinforced the belief that if you encounter a young and eager individual in your midst, someone who harbors the potential to be a future leader in their field, consider rallying your community to lend support. When we equip and empower the next generation, the possibilities are limitless, and together, we can shape a brighter future for our world.
Fourth Element Pioneer Jill Heinerth has ventured into some of the most inhospitable environments on earth, from cave-diving inside a recently calved Antarctic iceberg to surfacing from a dive through a service hatch in the middle of the highway in downtown Orlando. Her career has included exploring and mapping part of the deepest cave system in the Western Hemisphere, participating in the discovery of new aquatic species, looking for empirical evidence of climate change and documenting the macabre remains of the long extinct Mayan civilisation in Mexico.