January 18, 2012

Protecting my Playground with Save Our Shores, by Nancy Connelly

By Nancy Connelly, Sanctuary Steward Class of 2011

Having lived on the coast my whole life, east then west, beaches have always been my “backyard”, my playground. Like all the other active kids (young and old), I spent innumerable hours both in the water and on the sand, and continue to do so.

When I prioritized volunteering last year and began researching local non-profit organizations, Save Our Shores was a natural fit.

In the eight-week training course that all volunteers commit to, I was quickly disheartened when the SOS staff and guest speakers revealed the general state of the oceans, the garbage patches, and the specific threats to our backyard, the incredible Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. I was especially surprised to learn the direct correlation between our daily dependency on plastics and the negative impact on marine life. Fortunately, I also learned some simple actions to curb my dependency and ways to educate others.

Cleaning beaches with local residents, community groups, school kids and UCSC students, and companies that have “adopted” beaches has been far more fun and rewarding than I ever imagined. For some that make their way to the beach it turns in to an “eye-spy” game, for others a competition for who gathers the most, sometimes it’s a family activity or time with friends and neighbors. But without a doubt, when these local caretakers head home, they’ve all had some fun, they’re all more aware, and they all feel good.

Beach clean-ups are only part of what I’ve done with Save Our Shores, but so far it’s been the most fulfilling.

Seeing the smiles, community spirit and watching bag after bag, pound after pound of trash and recyclables removed from my playground is the best feeling there is.

The 2012 Sanctuary Steward course starts on Tuesday, February 21st!
Act NOW - Apply online today!

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