November 6, 2012

Grateful for this opportunity to become a Steward in my new backyard



By Dee Tannenbaum
Sanctuary Steward class of 2012


I grew up in Sacramento. OK, I said it - the truth is out!

And when my family and I visited Monterey Bay each summer, we tried very hard not to personify the stereotypical vacationers who piled out of the SUV, soon to create havoc and trash on the beach.  In fact, our time on the coast was very treasured and quite sacred.  Our love of the sea was intrinsic, and we had a genuine respect for the local community who cared for the ocean on an every-day basis – the real sanctuary stewards.

More truth be told … life in the valley was not all that bad.  Those of us from the delta region know first-hand the value of protecting our rivers, streams and nearby lakes.  I grew passionate about spreading the message that what we do in our mountains, plains and valleys ultimately impacts our oceans and the planet at large. 

One of my favorite volunteer activities in the valley was to lead beautification efforts on run-down campuses, impressing upon students that environmental responsibility begins in our own backyards.  Who would have thought that, one day, the beautiful Monterey Bay would actually BE my very own backyard!

Santa Cruz is our home now … and there really is no place like it. 

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my new life in Santa Cruz is my life as a Sanctuary Steward.  The Steward program has taught me about the issues affecting our seas, and has given me opportunities like taking part in the grand opening of our exciting new Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, or spreading information about clean boating and oil spill prevention throughout our harbors in the DockWalker program.

Just this week, I ran a beach cleanup with a group of 6th graders at Twin Lakes State Beach.  After engaging in a brief presentation on marine debris, these future world leaders donned their cloth gloves, grabbed their green recycled buckets, and set-out with great conviction to pick-up even the minutest pieces of plastic that harm our planet’s marine life.   It was a reassuring to see that the health of the world’s oceans is in such determined little hands. 

In that very moment, I experienced an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to Save Our Shores in my beautiful, new backyard – Monterey Bay.

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Sanctuary Stewards are the core volunteer force of Save Our Shores!
Now accepting applications for 2013, classes start in February!
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