Eli Dagostino, a freshman at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School is the Stone Soup Leadership Institute’s new media intern working with Martha’s Vineyard Community Television. To launch his year-round internship, Eli served as the institute’s youth delegate to the Caribbean Media Exchange Conference on Sustainable Development early this month on the island of St. Lucia. Eli joined youth delegates from Canada, New Jersey and the Caribbean islands of Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, St. Vincent and students from St. Lucia’s International School class on sustainable tourism.

Youth delegates listened to experts share their research on sustainable tourism, a growing industry. Eli enjoyed St. Lucia hotels and tasty foods; after sailing down the coast to the southern part of the island, he enjoyed tours of a chocolate eco-tourism business and refreshing waterfalls. During the conference youth round table, Eli shared stories about sustainable development projects on Martha’s Vineyard, including the Island Cohousing project in West Tisbury, where he lives with his family. Roundtable participants also learned about the Vineyard’s African American Heritage Trail and the Aquinnah Cultural Trail featuring the Wampanoag tribe’s history, language and heritage sites. They saw fliers from the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce on bird watching, kayak trips, eco-tourism trips at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, guided nature walks at Polly Hill Arboretum, and the Farm Institute’s educational programs.

Clayton Sizemore, operations manager for CNN, encouraged the young people to pursue “backpack journalism” by writing, taking photos and creating videos to get their story out using new media technology. While in St. Lucia, Eli took photos, videotaped interviews and wrote blogs to share with his teachers, friends and family.

Eli is the sixth youth delegate to the conference.

Founded on the Vineyard in 1997, the Stone Soup Institute uses their book, curriculum, trainings and youth summits to prepare young and emerging leaders to build a better world. At MVTV Carl Holt is training Eli to edit videos on the institute’s youth leadership initiatives and upload them to the institute’s Youtube channel for its global technology initiative which was launched this summer with a tribute to Walter Cronkite.

En route back to the Vineyard, Eli interviewed the institute’s first conference youth delegate, Josue Cruz, founding member of the Vieques Youth Leadership Initiative. “Helping to create future leaders anywhere in this world is hard work,” said Eli’s mother Sheryl Dagostino, who traveled with him. “The institute’s team inspired me, and I truly look forward to these future leaders coming to the Vineyard youth summit and bringing all of their dreams for the future to share and inspire our young people.”

Eli is producing a video which will be premiered at a Vineyard event, featured on MVTV and on the institute’s Youtube channel: stonesoupleaderinst. To receive an invitation and support the project, please e-mail soup4world@gmail, or call 617-304-7821.


Marianne Larned is director of the Vineyard Stone Soup Institute.