Monteleone Recognized as a Governor's Conservation Hero for Work with Marine Pollution

Friday, September 15, 2017

UNCW staff member Bonnie Monteleone ’11M is out to save our oceans from being awash in trash one piece at a time.

While earning her master’s in liberal studies at UNCW, she realized the severity of plastic pollution on the marine environment. For nearly a decade, she has traveled tens of thousands of miles across oceans, founded the national nonprofit Plastic Ocean Project, been featured in the award-winning documentary “A Plastic Ocean,” created an accompanying national touring art exhibit and shared her extensive research with global audiences, all while working full-time in the UNCW Department of Chemistry. 

For her tireless efforts, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation has recognized Monteleone as the “Conservation Communicator of the Year.” The awards recognize conservationists who are steadfast in their commitment to protecting the natural resources of our state.  

“None of the recipients do what they do for recognition,” said Monteleone. “We do it for the next generation, and that includes wildlife. Receiving this award celebrates all the work done at UNCW and the Plastic Ocean Project and would not have been possible without the support of friends and family.”

Monteleone was formally presented with the honor at the 54th Annual Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards on Sept. 9. In addition to working for the chemistry department as an administrative assistant, she serves as a Plastic Marine Debris Lab assistant and helps students collect and analyze findings for their research projects. 

“Bonnie is a valued member of the College of Arts and Sciences’ staff, a passionate conservationist and is most deserving of this prestigious honor,” said Aswani Volety, dean of the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences. “As this award indicates, she can communicate the importance of ocean conservation through various mediums. In addition, she contributes significantly to the College’s research initiatives and is committed to student mentoring.”

-- Caroline Cropp