Hayden Panettiere: Whaleman founder helped get her feet wet

Youth Impact Report 2011: Power of Youth

WHO: Hayden Panettiere has been working steadily since appearing as a young girl on sudsers “One Life to Live” and “The Guiding Light,” but in 2006, her breakthrough performance came in the form of an indestructible teen on NBC’s hit “Heroes.” Since the skein’s 2010 conclusion, Panettiere has been busy. The thesp’s television and film credits include “Scream 4,” “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,” and “I Love You, Beth Cooper.”

WHAT: The Whaleman Foundation is an oceanic research, conservation and wildlife film production organization dedicated to preserving and protecting dolphins, whales and their ocean habitat.

WHY: “I did a movie when I was 15 called ‘Shanghai Kiss,’ and Jeff Pantukhoff, the founder and creator of the Whaleman Foundation was actually working on the crew,” Panettiere says. “He knew I was a big fan of animals, and during the last days of filming, he approached me and said, ‘Look, I know you love animals. Can I show you what I do with dolphins and whales?’?” Panettiere now serves as the org’s international spokesperson.

WHAT’S NEXT: The fifth annual eBay charity auction and a reality series based on the org’s mission statement.