I always try to play a role, however small, in helping the environment. I’m a huge advocate of recycling – anything from plastic bags to paper towels to scraps of paper – and try to limit my consumption of precious resources. But these decisions are surely the result of elementary school lessons and programs, and learning more about “going green” over time. But I haven’t had an extensive course on ocean protection, and Mission Blue really opened my eyes to how much harm we’re inflicting on bodies of water.
I think a big reason that I never showed as much dedication to saving the oceans is because I’ve never lived near an ocean. And even while attending college in Florida, I’m too busy to visit the beach. With the upcoming outreach project, I started thinking about how people can be influenced to save something they never see. The fact is, everything in the world is linked. Air pollution has a detrimental effect on oceans, and you don’t have to live on the coast to release gases into the atmosphere. And even more obvious is the fact that all waterways eventually lead to the ocean. So I decided to do some research on a well-known creek in my hometown: French Creek.
Little did I know that French Creek is “nationally recognized as one of the most ecologically important waterways in the entire country” (cited from www.frenchcreekconservancy.org). It is home to 27 species of freshwater mussels and over 80 fish species. It is often referred to as one of America’s “last great places”. Not only was I unaware of this information, but I had no idea how many ways there are for the public to get involved in conservation. Around Labor Day, for example, there’s an entire clean up event that awards prizes for best weigh-ins, and even provides a picnic lunch to participants. There are canoeing and kayaking trips to bring people closer to the watershed, an opportunity to join the volunteer water monitoring team, and so much more. I wish I had been more educated on these opportunities; I think children are completely unaware of how much they can help, even if the resulting benefits aren’t visible. This is definitely something to think about as we begin our outreach projects!