I was asked recently to give several presentations at local libraries about “Environmental Heroes”. This took some thought and consideration, because throughout my life I have had so many.
My first environmental hero is my dad, George Victor Smith. He taught me how to enjoy nature. I grew up with my beautiful sister, Drew, right along the ICW in Beaufort, NC. Days were filled with marsh mud up to my ankles (sometimes knees) and playing with periwinkles from the marsh grass or frogs from the ditch. We canoed, fished, learned to swim, and played with every creature we could find. My dad thought me that it’s okay to get muddy, explore, and really discover nature by getting my hands dirty.
When I was around 10 years old, and in the Girl Scouts, I learned about Rachel Carson and joined the NC Big Sweep beach cleanups as a volunteer. Rachel Carson is a well-known environmental hero and continues to inspire millions worldwide with the research she published in order to save coastal wildlife. I think what I learned most from her books and teachings is that no matter the struggle, everyone has a voice and to never give up on what you feel is right for the environment.
At around age 20 and during college, my environmental hero was my environmental biology professor, Dr. Gilbert Grant. A world-traveling environmental hero, who’s passion for birds and bats, taught me not only about the laws of ecology, but during some travels together I learned about ethnobotany, identifying plant species in the field, and also how documenting and recording data for publication plays a vital role in studying how our ecosystems are changing now and in the future and allows for others to share the same knowledge.
In my mid twenties, my environmental hero or heroes, I should say, were the very inspiring members of the Carolina Recycling Association, as mentioned during #WasteReductionWednesday s. These fine illustrious (as Tom Rhodes would say) colleagues inspired me to go full-tilt-boogy into the resource management world as a career and I have never looked back ever since. The knowledge gained by each member has shown me how not only to implement sustainable waste reduction programs in the community, but also to live the sustainable and waste free lifestyle – practicing what I teach.
In my early 30s, I had so many environmental heroes. Three of which stand out the most to me. My dear friend, Kristin Fountain, is a local environmental hero with strong coastal roots and has taught me to have no fear when it comes to protecting what you love (the marine environment). She left home during college to live in Cambodia for two years and volunteer for a Sea Horse Conservation program.
Kristin was very inspirational and quite possibly the single reason that I learned to scuba dive. Dr. Sylvia Earle, a well-known environmental hero, has also been a huge inspiration and has helped me, through her writings and documentaries, to find the words to teach others about how our fate and the ocean’s fate are one and the same.
Another hero of my mid thirties is Captain Charles Moore. He discovered the Pacific Garbage Patch by accident and he continues to study the area and educate others about it’s detrimental effects to us all. Someone who reminds me a lot of Captain Moore is my fav local environmental hero, Bonnie Monteleone of UNCW and the Plastic Ocean Project. She has been to every ocean gyre collecting plastic debris and studying things like chemical absorption and the effects plastics have on certain marine creatures. She also came up with one of the best ideas I have seen yet on how to teach folks about plastics in the ocean. She has a traveling art exhibit. Check it out here: www.plasticoceanproject.org
One of my most recent environmental heroes, past three years, is my dear friend Dr. Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia. She is a professor of environmental engineering and has studied solid waste infrastructure all over the world. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to how our impacts on land effect the quality of our oceans and has developed my fav app of all time, the #MarineDebrisTracker App. (free to download on your smart device). Check it out here: http://www.marinedebris.engr.uga.edu
I met Jenna while working to form the NC Marine Debris Symposium stakeholder group three years ago and she has been a key leader in our group ever since. I adore her not only for sharing her knowledge and inspiring me to learn more about plastics in the ocean, but also she, like all of my heroes, practices what she teaches and is a role model for all.
Most recently Jenna was part of the eXXpedition (http://exxpedition.com) Atlantic journeying at sea aboard a 72 foot sailing vessel studying plastics in the ocean and making her way with other women across the Atlantic for this research. She inspired me to submit an application to join the 2015 crew (eXXpedition Amazon). Now, officially part of the 2015 eXXpedition crew, I will be continuing her research and collecting samples and conducting studies both land-based and at sea for the month of Dec.
My most recent environmental heroes are Olivia (10) and Carter Ries (12) of One More Generation (http://onemoregeneration.org), a non-profit that they built because they see the need for youth involvement in shaping our future community environment around the world. Just like Rachel Carson, these young heroes are a voice for a generation to become inspired, take notice, and support. Their efforts are vast and impressive. From the preservation of our endangered wildlife and environmental conservation to youth empowerment and the list of projects and programs they are taking on keeps growing.
My husband, Wes Rider, is an environmental hero protecting the ocean with his pre-surf session beach cleanups. My sister, Drew, is a true waste reduction environmental hero and is a minimalist when it comes to consumer products. My friend, Beth Howard, and the art teacher at Dixon Elementary School is my hero for helping start up the school recycling program at her school and is a long-time volunteer at the local sea-turtle hospital.
My list of environmental heroes is always growing. It is important for all of us to seek out the inspiration of others. We are never so full of knowledge that we cannot learn from the experience of others, no matter their age, background, or where they live. We should all aspire to be environmental heroes if only just for the preservation of our own community environment, but to those that yearn to go above and beyond, I salute you today and everyday. You are all my environmental heroes. “…do your best, because we need you.” – Anonymous Interviewee during the documentary eXXpedition Atlantic
Blue skies and calm seas,
Consumer Products out of Marine Debris
Here are some of my fav products made from ocean trash:
1. Method hand soap: Beyond the Bottle / Ocean Plastic
2. Bureo Skateboards: Skateboards made from discarded Fishing Nets
3. Adidas Shoes: (Newly announced) Adidas and Parley for the Oceans
* Wouldn’t it be super rad if they made the adidas outdoor climacool boat shoes out of marine debris? I adore mine!! They are THE perfect non-marking (a must on boats) vegan boat friendly shoes. Water actually pours right through them leaving you dry and did I mention they are beyond comfy and light? My all-around travel shoe and my must have for eXXpedition Amazon!
Here is what mine look like:
I love these innovations…. Let’s keep ’em coming.
Blue skies and calm seas,
9th Annual Earth and Surf Fest
Keep Onslow Beautiful and several sponsors are gathering to host the 9th Annual Earth & Surf Fest at North Topsail Beach July 4 rain or shine. The event aims to promote waste reduction, litter and marine debris prevention and a healthy lifestyle. This is an environmental awareness event.
Festivities begin with a 7 a.m. registration for the 5K beach run and surf contest. The 5K race on the beach will award prizes to the top overall male and female runners and the first and second place finishers in each age group. The course is an out-and-back course that is run completely on the beach. The start and finish of the race is on beach in front of Onslow Public Beach Public Access #2. Runners will head north about 1.5 miles before turning around and heading back south. T-shirts are available for runners and surfers registered for the event and some will also be available for purchase until supplies run out.
Surf and stand-up paddle boarding contests are being coordinated by On Shore Surf Shop and other sponsors. Registration is available online at http://www.earthandsurffest.com/-surf–sup-registration.html or at the store in Surf City.
Free stand-up paddle board demonstrations plus kayak and canoe demonstrations will be on the sound side and are coordinated by Surf City Paddle Club and the New River Foundation.
A beach yoga class will be at 10 am by Keep Onslow Beautiful committee member and registered yoga teacher, Christina Lewis
A beach cleanup for the entire section of North Topsail and Surf City beaches is also scheduled. A sign up tent (aqua blue/green tent that says “Keep Onslow Beautiful”) will be located at the event. Sign up, pick a location to clean up and venture out. Buckets, gloves, and other materials will be provided. SAT credit hours for high school students will be recorded. Don’t forget to bring forms!
Free live music from Trevor Harris and the Birds, and Pamlico Joe will be featured. WRMR 98.7 Modern Rock and DJ Christine Martinez will also be on-site for a live broadcast and giving out Modern Rock 98.7 coolers until supplies last (mid day).
This is a waste-free event. Everything will be either recyclable or compostable. Recycle and compost bins will be conveniently located. Guests are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles for use at refilling stations located throughout the festival. All activities will also be completely solar powered in keeping with the theme.
It’s all taking place at Beach Access #2, 2950 Island Drive in North Topsail Beach. Additional information is available at: Earth and Surf Fest
Make plans to enjoy the holiday at the Earth & Surf Fest.
Happy Birthday National Ocean Policy
Happy Birthday to the National Ocean Policy (NOP)
Learn more here: Healthy Oceans Coalition / NOP Background
Want to do more for our marine environment locally? Please consider volunteering for the Plastic Ocean Project, Keep Onslow Beautiful, Project AWARE, or a local Surfrider Foundation chapter and also be sure to register for and attend the North Carolina Marine Debris Symposium
Don’t have time to officially volunteer for an org, but still want to be an environmental hero – clean your beach whenever you are there, pick up debris in a parking lot on your way to and from your car, or simply donate to help fund vital programs that help preserve our marine ecosystem.
Blue skies and calm seas,
Salty Saturday with the Priechenfried Crew
Had a lovely day on the water with the Priechenfried’s (Amy, Carl, and my fav misfit crew of mini pirates) today. Weather was a wee bit windy, but the temp was perfect. We made our way to a little island just North of Bear and just South of EI. It was a very small piece of real estate that we made our home for several hours of grilling and chilling, SUPing, kayaking, and other salty hair and sandy feet activities.
Here is a snippet of our day:
Until next time…
Wishing you all Blue Skies and Calm Seas,
Sharky Sunday out at the Caribsea
The wreck of the Caribsea has to be one of my favorite places to dive mostly due to the large community of sand tiger sharks. These magnificent creatures don’t mind sharing their home with a few divers and I adore spending time with them.
Sand tiger sharks will occasionally come to the surface and gulp air. I’ve mostly witnessed this while volunteering at the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium and it’s pretty cool. As it turns out, they store air in their stomachs and this plays a role in how they can float nearly motionless in the water while staying fairly close to the bottom. Divers would call this good buoyancy and others might just say it is a good trait since they appear to be very lazy. It might also be a pretty sneaky way to wait for prey.
The sand tiger shark is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Specifies and is also a candidate species for the U.S. Endangered Species list. This is due to a couple of reasons, in some parts of the world, these sharks are in serious decline due to over-fishing, the shark fin industry, and commercial fishing methods, and also they have one of the lowest reproductive rates of all sharks (according to http://www.auduboninstitute.org), but here in North Carolina we have what seems to be a really strong population that is thriving.
Here is a short video of my dive this past SharkySunday:
Want to learn more about these super rad dudes in grey? I encourage you to take the PADI Project AWARE Shark Conservation class at Olympus Dive Center and then book a charter for some shark diving or head on out to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores for an up-close and personal (from behind the glass) view.
Check out this short and sweet video of a recent Bear Island Adventure with the Coastinista.
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