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Paying it Forward

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Last summer underwater explorer Jill Heinerth joined forces with a passionate young diver. That partnership turned out to be transformative for them both.

Paying it Forward
Kayla Martin playing in the sea foam in Les Escoumins. Photo Credit: 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.

Sea to Sky

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 our 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, undergarments, and various other items she required for our underwater expedition.

Paying it Forward
A small plane lies in a freshwater quarry in Quebec, one of the first stops on their expedition. Photo Credit: Jill Heinerth

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.

More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the remote places Jill Heinerth has explored on Earth. Jill Heinerth is a veteran of over thirty years of scientific diving, filming/photography, and exploration. Her expeditions include the first dives inside Antarctica icebergs and record-breaking scientific missions in deep underwater caves worldwide.

Jill’s book INTO THE PLANET – My Life as a Cave Diver has drawn wide acclaim from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and even Oprah magazine. Her children’s book, THE AQUANAUT, has been selected by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library as a part of her inspirational initiative.

For more info: www.IntoThePlanet.com

Article and Photos Submitted by Jill Heinerth

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Follow Kayla Martin’s Diving Adventures on Facebook


La Galigo

About Author

More people have walked on the moon, than have been to some of the places that Jill’s exploration has taken her right here on the earth. From the most dangerous technical dives deep inside underwater caves, to searching for never before seen ecosystems inside giant Antarctic icebergs, to the lawless desert border area between Egypt and Libya while a civil war raged around her, Jill’s curiosity and passion about our watery planet is the driving force in her life. Jill’s accolades include induction into the Explorer’s Club and the inaugural class of the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame. She received the Wyland ICON Award, an honor she shares with several of her underwater heroes including Jacques Cousteau, Robert Ballard and Dr. Sylvia Earle. She was named a “Living Legend” by Sport Diver Magazine and selected as Scuba Diving Magazine’s “Sea Hero of the Year 2012.” In recognition of her lifetime achievement, Jill was awarded the inaugural Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration. Established by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2013, the medal recognizes singular achievements and the pursuit of excellence by an outstanding Canadian explorer.

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