Volunteering to become the heart and soul of Coastkeeper

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”
– Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732


San Diego Coastkeeper’s Volunteer of the Year Amanda Sousa and Volunteer Hall of Fame inductee Taya Lazootin checking out San Diego Bay water quality while aboard Clean Sweep.

It wasn’t until the first time I snorkeled off the shore of Catalina Island as a teenager that I was able to completely grasp the beauty and wonder of the ocean I had been swimming in my entire life.  With that awakening came a greater love and appreciation for the sea, resulting in continuous efforts today to bridge the gap between existence and contribution within my community, my students and myself.  In a lifetime we may learn the value of natural resources in San Diego , yet, as former historian Thomas Fuller states in the quote above, it is often too late.

This is probably one of the main reasons I joined San Diego Coastkeeper in September of 2010.  I started out as a water monitoring volunteer, journeying throughout the county to collect water samples from various watersheds that were later to be tested in lab.  The first water quality monitoring training provided a great perspective on what goes on behind the scenes at San Diego Coastkeeper; and yet, it was less of a “training” and more of a “hands on” learning experience that instilled the desire to be part of a team.

Wanting to be more involved, within a few months, I joined the Volunteer Core, where I not only met interesting people with similar interests to my own, but I learned from many amazing speakers about conservation methods and sustainability practices that are presented at outreach events and beach cleanups.  As a teacher, I see the immediate effects of outreach events and the long term effects of educational resources, and I want more than anything for our youth to gain perspective on conservation and preservation.  

While each volunteer creates their own custom plan for getting involved, one of my biggest highlights so far was teaming up with the Coastkeeper staff to create a Marine Protected Area Education Project in my school district.  Students in my school district were educated on the Marine Life Protection Act and given the unique opportunity to present California Kelp Ecosystem Projects at the California Fish and Game Hearing on MPA expansion this past October, assisting in the resolution for increased Marine Protected Areas along our coast. Yay!!

Taking one day out of your hectic week to be part of Coastkeeper will make you feel enriched and as though you play a major role in the ongoing trek to promote conservation and stimulate public awareness, just as it does for me.  The many new friends I have made and resources I have been introduced to make it attainable to fulfill my goal of being a successful steward for my environment, and I truly believe this would not be possible had I not made myself at home with San Diego Coastkeeper!

Contact the Dylan, Volunteer and Outreach Coordiantor, to learn more about this amazing program.