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Author Spotlight:

Cathryn Berger Kaye & Philippe Cousteau

Author Cathryn Berger Kaye
Author Philippe Cousteau

Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau are coauthors of Going Blue and the new elementary edition Make a Splash! Cathy is an international service learning and education consultant, who works with schools all over the world on a variety of education issues. Philippe is a social entrepreneur, environmental advocate, special correspondent for CNN International, and founder and CEO of EarthEcho International, a leading nonprofit environmental education organization. Cathy and Philippe share a mission of providing kids and teens with the knowledge, ideas, and inspiration to take action and care for our water planet.

Q: What prompted you to write Make a Splash!?

We had such a good time and wonderful success with Going Blue, I knew we needed a version for younger kids. Plus, when working with elementary programs I find the curriculum has many opportunities to explore water-related issues. So Make a Splash! becomes a helpful classroom resource, while also being a book parents will want to have for their children at home.

Philippe: Every day I meet kids of all ages who are fired up about the environment. They want to be involved; they want to have an impact. Make a Splash! is our way of helping a whole new generation discover the excitement and adventure of making the world a better place starting in their own backyards.

Q: What was the best/most rewarding part of developing the book?

For me Make a Splash! blends learning with the mind and with the heart. I am always excited to make the science of protecting our waters completely accessible and compelling for the reader. And of course, the Kids in Action stories are inspiring, for example, how kids are turning grease into fuel or establishing zero waste lunches at school.

Philippe: My favorite example is kids making household cleaning products like Adios Germose. What’s also ideal in this collaboration is how Cathy’s service learning expertise combines with EarthEcho International’s extensive work as an environmental education organization.

On a personal note, it’s a wonderful way to continue and evolve my grandfather Jacques Cousteau’s mission of protecting what he called this water planet

Q: Why do you think kids have so much power to affect global change?

In my travels across the globe, I’ve met kids in Texas, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, and Zagreb who care about real issues, both local and global. They’ve seen what others have done to make real change occur—the Jacques Cousteaus and Jane Goodalls of the world—and they want to generate ideas that lead to new solutions.

Philippe: During the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I asked a group of elementary school students who was going to clean up the aftermath and make things right. Without hesitation they responded “We will!”   That was a powerful moment that represents for me the passion and determination kids today have for protecting the environment. Our role and responsibility as adults is to provide them with the support and resources to turn this passion into action. We have a favorite saying at EarthEcho, “everything you do makes a difference,” and kids really respond to that concept.

Q: What book(s) inspired you the most as a child?

Two books with strong little girls. Cotton Top by Jen O’Neill was a true favorite, the story of a barefoot child in Appalachia who learns that being just who she is is the perfect person to be, and the Eloise books by Kay Thompson, about a precocious child with more than her fair share of being mischievous. These were active, lively girls and that’s how I envisioned myself growing up—and that image, along with a dash of the mischievous, remains today.

Philippe: As a child, I was most inspired by the books that my father and grandfather wrote. Those books, along with their films, were my first introductions to their work.

Q: What was your favorite thing about school as a kid?

I loved writing stories and poems. Whenever we had an assignment to write anything I added a creative twist to it. The teachers I loved best let me be a bit of a free spirit. (I also really liked dictionary work and diagramming sentences!)

Philippe: I liked anything outdoors, particularly field trips that got us out of the classroom and into nature.

Q: What was your least favorite thing about school?

Having to stay quiet! I always had endless questions and wanted to spin topics and information into new directions. Even today, encouraging teachers to allow those questions to emerge is part of what I impart when working with teachers. Let curious and inquisitive minds flourish!

Philippe: Sitting still! Even as a kid, I was always eager to get my hands dirty and explore. That’s one of the things I find so gratifying about my work in the education space today. Working with Cathy and the team on resources like Make a Splash! is my way of helping educators and parents turn the learning experience into an adventure that will appeal to kids who are the way I was at their age.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with kids?

Their innate curiosity. They have this ability to find the questions that take you to the next step and the next. They also still have a sense of awe about our world and this sense of amazement and joy inspires me to continually work to preserve their future.

Philippe: I’m most amazed with how children today are so completely engaged and knowledgeable about environmental issues. They truly care about the planet that they are inheriting and they understand their role as change agents. They get it.

Q: What can kids everywhere do right now to protect our oceans, lakes, rivers, and wetlands?

Start with a reusable water bottle rather than one that is single use. Turn out the lights when you leave a room. Alert adults when there is a drippy faucet. And keep learning all you can about our water and why every drop counts.

Philippe: Our rivers and lakes and oceans depend on us, and we certainly depend on them. Keep in mind that your every choice and action matters. You can make a positive impact every hour of every day. That’s a powerful concept.

Q: What makes you a “Free Spirit”?

I simply love what I do! Engaging teachers in a workshop with practical ideas they can use, leading students through activities that get them excited about learning, collaborating with amazing people (like Philippe), and writing books. And dancing. And being in nature.

Philippe: I am a free spirit because I’m fortunate enough to have a job that takes me around the globe where I meet amazing people on every continent. Every day is a new adventure. When I dive in the ocean, I am always reminded of how much we don’t know about our world and how much the next generation will have to discover. Protecting these precious underwater worlds, as well as those above ground, has become both a legacy I inherited and my chosen work. 

 Learn more about Make a Splash!