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KOTY Nominee: Meet Cash

HELPING HAND Cash Daniels shows off fishing line he took from a stream. These lines can entangle birds. COURTESY ERIN DANIELS

Who will become Kid of the Year for 2021? The answer will be revealed on February 9 during a TV special on Nickelodeon. In the weeks leading up to the show, we’ve been introducing the top five nominees. Read on!

A few years ago, Cash Daniels was walking on a beach when he found some plastic. He started thinking about the impact plastic pollution has on the environment, especially on rivers and oceans. That’s when he got interested in environmental issues.

Cash, now 12, found that rivers are at the heart of the problem. A 2021 report in Science Advances said that far more rivers are carrying large amounts of plastic into our oceans than was once thought. This news hit close to home for Cash. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city sits on the Tennessee River. It’s one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

This information led Cash to take action. He made it his mission to clear trash from public spaces and waterways.

River Rescue

At first, Cash and his parents worked to pick up garbage near the Tennessee River. But Cash soon realized he would need more help. So he organized community cleanup outings. Eventually, he and other volunteers removed more than 11,000 pounds of garbage from the river.

Cash has also partnered with businesses to recycle aluminum cans. He has recycled more than 2,000 pounds of them. The money he earns from that supports river conservation efforts.

STANDING PROUD Cash poses near the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, in Juno Beach, Florida, on October 22. He was a 2021 finalist for the center’s Blue Hatchling Youth Award. It recognizes young people who’ve made significant contributions in marine conservation.


Cash loves marine animals. By cleaning waterways, he helps protect these creatures. He set up fishing-line recycling containers along the Tennessee River. People can discard discard KONSTANTYNOV—GETTY IMAGES to throw away (verb) Instead of discarding my old books, I donated them to a book drive. fishing line in these instead of in the water, where it entangles wildlife.

Kids’ Impact

Cash enjoys getting other kids involved in activism. He wrote a children’s book called One Small Piece.

DIVING IN Cash loves the water. His favorite spot to go snorkeling is beneath Blue Heron Bridge, in West Palm Beach, Florida.


It’s about pollution in waterways and oceans. Cash also cofounded the Cleanup Kids. The group encourages children to recycle litter. “Kids may be a small percentage of the population,” Cash says. “But they are 100% of the future.”

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