It all started at the tidepools on the Washington Coast. The seastars, barnacles, sea anemones, crabs, and limpets – so many things to see! I had so many questions. What did they eat? How did they keep from drying out? How did they stay attached to the rocks? I am grateful that I had the chance to visit the coast and that my parents would encourage me to seek answers to these questions. Fast forward many years, I am still in awe of the ocean and the life it supports.
My curiosity led me to a degree in biology, a graduate degree in marine resource management, and opportunities where I could share my excitement about the ocean. I’ve enjoyed working with all ages through outdoor schools, summer camps, aquariums, and on boats. I really geek out on how people learn science and make meaning of the world around them. It challenges me to think about how to frame science content in a way that is engaging while allowing others to come to their own conclusions.
Today I work for Oregon Sea Grant at Oregon State University. Based near Portland, I’m an hour away from the ocean, but still very connected to the watershed. In a partnership with the Oregon State Marine Board, our state agency for recreational boating, I work with boaters on the topic of water pollution prevention from the western coast to eastern border of the state. The focus of this outreach is on the disposal of human waste through boat holding tank pumpouts, portable toilet dump stations, and floating restrooms. Using these facilities keeps it out of our waterways where it can create issues for water quality and impact the health of humans and wildlife. I also support staff in marinas and at boating facilities to ensure the equipment is working and available for boaters. Part of the Clean Vessel Act, this program is managed nationally by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
As Oregon Sea Grant’s boating outreach coordinator, it has been fascinating to work with people who boat and fish across the state. I have the chance to hear diverse perspectives that people have related to water, our environment, and how humans play a role. It challenges me to be an effective listener, communicator, and educator.
The work that fellow NMEA members do across the country and beyond is incredibly inspiring. Attending the annual conference and connecting with friends recharges me to continue my efforts in marine science education. I’ve enjoyed finding a community within this organization and I’m looking forward to NMEA13!