Hannah Testa is a 14 year old from Georgia who is passionate about animals and environmental issues that have an impact on wildlife. She believes that knowledge is power and that through education and awareness, she can affect positive change. At the amazing age of 12, she founded Hannah4Change to fight for issues that impact the planet and all of its animals. Read our interview with the lovely Hannah below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I wanted to create a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of animals and the environment.
Tell us about your business.
When I was 12 I created Hannah4Change to advocate for animals and the environment. I have focused lately on presenting to thousands of adults and children – including state and international government officials – about the harmful effects that plastic pollution has on our environment.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
In 2016, I partnered with my Republican state senator to proclaim February 15, 2017 as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day throughout the state of Georgia. This event was conceived and spearheaded by Hannah4Change to help educate Georgians about the growing crisis. My goal is to make citizens and businesses aware that simple changes can greatly reduce our plastic footprint. My call to action is for Georgian’s to avoid consumption of single-use plastic products such as plastic bottles, straws, and bags on at least one day out of the year. After this one day, my hope is citizens will realize that it is easy to reduce their plastic consumption. I have gotten hundreds of environmental leaders across the nation to support my efforts at the State Capitol.
I have received numerous honors and awards, including;
- Young Superhero for Earth Award by the Captain Planet Foundation
- Animal Hero Kid’s Wildlife Freedom Award
- President’s Volunteer Service Award
- Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes
- Prudential Spirit of Community Award
- The first ever Pioneer of Sustainability by Ted’s Montana Grill
In addition, I have been appointed Co-President of Animal Hero Kids and Ambassador for 5 Gyres Institute and Plastic Pollution Coalition. In early 2016, the Georgia House and Senate both passed resolutions to recognize me for my volunteer work.
Where is your business based?
I am based near Atlanta in Cumming, GA. I have focused my efforts in Georgia, but have travelled across the US as well as internationally to talk about the impact of plastic pollution.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I have a website, www.hannah4change.org, and Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts. I have posted several videos on Youtube as well. As far as promoting Plastic Pollution Awareness Day, I am networking with dozens of politicians, environmental organizations and sustainable businesses to get the word out. I also have created posters that businesses can post in a show of support.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
From kindergarten I have utilized my leadership skills to teach and influence others, and have truly become a voice for those that do not have a voice, including rhinos, elephants, horses, bears, dolphins, and orcas. I have raised money and awareness for various animal causes because I feel all animals deserve a right to live peacefully on this planet. One of my most successful fundraisers was one of my first events! At the young age of 10 I was featured on CBS News for spearheading a large fundraiser for a horse rescue farm in Georgia. As far as challenges, early on I heard that I was too young to make a difference, and there was some peer pressure to be “a normal kid”, but I had the support of my parents and others that kept me going. Once I started having some success at a young age, it served as encouragement that I could overcome any challenges.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I surround myself with positive people that give me words of encouragement.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I don’t have direct competitors.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
I have known about “networking” for quite some time, but it was really apparent in 2016. I went to Ted’s Montana Grill restaurant (co-owned by Ted Turner) and spoke to the manager to praise them for using paper straws. The manager suggested I talk to their manager of environmental sustainability, which I did. At that meeting, I met Ted Turner and he was so impressed with my poise and my accomplishments that I was invited to speak at Ted’s Montana Grill’s annual proprietors conference. At the conference, Ted Turner’s son-in-law was in the room and heard my presentation and he told his wife, Laura Turner Seydel, about me. Mrs. Seydel, who is on the board of several environmental organizations including Captain Planet Foundation, was instrumental in connecting me with several other local and national leaders including her son, John R. Seydel, who is the new Director of Sustainability for the City of Atlanta. As you can see, the power of networking was quite evident from just one small conversation at a local restaurant!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
You can do anything you want, it doesn’t matter your age. Just stand up and stand for something that you are passionate about. Together, let’s change the world.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Social media, especially Facebook.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I am still in school, so most of my reading is school-related! When I have time, I like to read information I find on social media from environmentalists and leaders that I follow.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’d be happy to present to any group about plastic pollution, youth empowerment, animal rights issues, and related topics. And specifically for the next few weeks, any help publicizing Plastic Pollution Awareness Day would be ideal. I’d also love to have additional volunteers that would like to join Hannah4Change and help advocate on behalf of animals and the environment.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My primary goal is to educate as many citizens and businesses as possible about plastic pollution, leading up to Plastic Pollution Awareness Day on February 15th. I also will be working with other youth around the globe to teach them what I have learned so they can consider their own plastic pollution awareness event in their home state.