Recently while reading a book titled Plastic Ocean, I had a sudden flashback to one of my childhood dreams to be a marine biologist. I often told my parents that I wanted to heal the ocean and the animals living there, never really understanding just how hard that task night be. This flashback got me thinking about the path I have taken to become a Healthy Watersheds Intern at The Watershed Project, and also about how my work now is not far from my lofty childhood plans.
It started with a move from Los Angeles to the Bay Area to attend California State University, East Bay in Hayward. I immediately began working at the campus bookstore and was linked in to many new opportunities for professional and academic growth. One of these opportunities was the Community Service Scholarship Program (CSSP) offered through my school. CSSP gives financial stipends to 13 CSUEB students to demonstrate their commitment to community service at local non-profit agencies by serving 100 hours in supervised summer internships. I applied and was thrilled when I was offered the chance to participate.
Since my move to the Bay Area, I have also become more of a nature enthusiast. I’ve been amazed by the beauty of the plants and landscapes of this part of California. So, when it came time to choose what type of non-profit agency I’d like to work for, I jumped at the chance to intern with The Watershed Project. My position at TWP is an opportunity to gain experience while working to restore our precious water resources through community action and education. It has been a perfect fit for me!
My major project as an intern is to help plan for International Coastal Cleanup Day, which I found out is the largest volunteer events on the planet! To think that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world join together to help fight marine debris is amazing to me. Last year, California led the nation with the most volunteers (82,500) who removed over 1,200,000 pounds of trash! These numbers are astounding, but also sad. While it is fantastic that so many individuals can join together to help our planet, it is also disturbing that we have let that much debris escape into our watersheds, onto our shorelines, and the ocean itself.
Part of The Watershed Project’s mission is to help people like you and me understand, appreciate, and protect our local watersheds. Coastal Cleanup Day is an excellent opportunity to open people’s eyes to the fact that what happens on land may eventually end up in our ocean. Individuals have a chance to come out to a local creek or shoreline, surrounded by friends and family, and join in our efforts to help save our ocean from more plastic debris. In addition to this, we also encourage individuals to take pledges to make small changes in their everyday lifestyles that can improve the health of our ocean.
On Saturday, September 15th, everyone is invited to come join us in our efforts to help rid our creeks and shorelines of unwanted plastics and debris, and help make them beautiful and healthy for everyone to enjoy! The Watershed Project will be hosting a cleanup site located at Shimada Friendship Park on the Richmond Shoreline, with a delicious BBQ planned after the event hosted by Supervisor John Gioia. We will also have a site at the Albany Bulb, as well as many other sites in the Contra Costa County area. For more information and to find a site near you, please visit our Coastal Cleanup Day 2012 webpage. I hope to see you there!