Abby Nicole Harrison Astronaut Scuba

Nicole Harrison, Executive Director, The Mars Generation

I have been on an awe-inspiring journey these last few years as I’ve watched my daughter Abby, known to many as Astronaut Abby, come through her adolescence not just as a girl with a dream but also as a leader of her generation, the Mars generation.

I have been witness to the effect Abby’s presence and her words have on people. She brings a message of hope, of dreams, of belief in a future that is better than what we have today. She has also excited so many people about STEM and space–sharing her journey and her knowledge has moved so many people from simply being interested in space to being space advocates.

Perhaps the most significant transformation she has made in someone has been in me. I started this journey knowing nothing about space; I was the average American who didn’t really think about space exploration or why it is important. But something changed as I traveled with her these past few years and listened to her message and watched the effect she had on others. Something happened as I assisted in monitoring her social media channels and helped her respond to the thousands of messages she has received from kids (and adults too) proclaiming they, too, have big dreams, and how she has inspired them to reach for their own Mars.

A transformation happened. I went from being a mother supporting her child to reach her dreams, to being a space and STEM advocate in my own right. I could never have imagined this path, this journey in life. Growing up in a small midwest town, the extraterrestrial landscape was not something we discussed at the dinnerAstronaut Abby Nicole Harrison table. And yet, 42 years into my life I have become a major space advocate.

And I’m not the only one she has transformed. The opportunity has risen to expand what Abby is doing with Astronaut Abby. What Abby does as one individual using her own story, is inspire others, advocate for STEM and space exploration and empower many others to become advocates in their own right. This is how The Mars Generation evolved. It has grown from a group of people who support Abby’s work and believe that it can be bigger.

Founding The Mars Generation, a nonprofit that educates and empowers people to advocate for human space exploration, is the natural next step for Abby and her work as an advocate. As she continues to share her own story and inspire people through her own journey to Mars, she has now set forth an organization that can educate and encourage others to do the same thing.

The Mars Generation is the beacon of hope for the future. It is the young people who are part of this special generation. The gen Ys and gen Zs that will take the reigns and help us get to Mars, which will expand our knowledge, grow our economy, help us innovate and eventually save humankind when we outgrow our planet. It is The Mars Generation that will help support us all in making sure they can be the leaders of the future we need them to be. This organization empowers both the youth of today as well as the adults who guide and support them.

As a digital marketing and PR expert with a background that spans from being an inner-city teacher, to being a nonprofit fundraising and communications director, to running my own boutique digital marketing agency today – my experience runs deep. While I never imagined all my past experience would culminate and prepare me to help run The Mars Generation, that I would end up working in “space” as an advocate–it’s exactly where I am. It’s where perhaps I was meant to be.

Abby’s journey led me to my own journey to space. She brought me down a path and I grasped it and embraced it. Yes I am a slow student–she has wanted to be an astronaut for 13 years, and it’s taken that entire time for me to embrace the importance of human space exploration for humankind. She helped to get me there. Abby inspired me to help make sure human space exploration continues and can inspire generations to come. I am taking on this role in a volunteer capacity while I run my business (to pay the bills), but I take this role with my whole heart and soul.

Being a co-founder of The Mars Generation with Abby and stepping in as the executive director has been such a gift. To build this organization from the massive support she has accumulated and from my own belief in the need to send someone to Mars even if it isn’t my daughter–the path continues. The journey continues and I step forward with Abby, while she will continue her own outreach program, we at The Mars Generation will work parallel with her to build an even stronger presence. Moving from 400,000 social media community members to 500,000 and 600,000 and eventually 1 million. The Mars Generation will help create the groundswell that is needed to get the funding we need to get to Mars. It’s our time. We are ready.

Thank you for joining Abby and me on this journey. I look forward to our future.