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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - University of San Diego, California

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University of San Diego, California
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Registered: December 2018
City/Town/Province: Arlington
Posts: 1
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Student Conservation Leadership Summit~

For as long as I can remember, I've loved the outdoors. No matter the weather, I was ready for adventure. I've grown up in the city, but my heart is on the shore and in the ocean. I knew at a young age I wanted a career where I could help wildlife and the environment. Through my mom's work with an environmental non-profit I had opportunities to be involved in special events and learn more about the numerous issues facing wildlife around the nation. As a young girl, I connected with the Girls Club, an organization that harnesses girls' passion for sharks, nature and the environment by giving them the opportunity to engage in projects focused on making a significant impact on the way sharks are perceived by the public, as well as, Sharks4Kids, a shark education outreach organization, and formed a deep interest and passion for shark ecology and conservation. From that point forward, I was called to be a voice for sharks through research, advocacy and communication. The Apprentice Ecologist scholarship will allow me to attend the number one school in the nation for marine biology, a school for which I have been accepted, based on my academic and extracurricular work. Without the support of scholarships I will not be able to attend.

The Student Conservation Leadership Summit hosted by the National Wildlife Federation and supported by the U.S. EPA and EPA Taiwan, provided me with a once in a lifetime field experience. The image is from La Jolla Beach in San Diego, California, just below, Scripps Institute of Oceanography. San Diego was beautiful, a mixture of city and coast. I've never seen a community quite like this before. Sunny skies, warmer than average temperatures, and clouds over the ocean that looked like a scene from a painting. Whether on the car-lined streets, trails, the university, the beach, people everywhere wore flips flops, bathing suits and some even carrying their surfboards.

Fourteen students from San Diego and fourteen students from Taiwan, including students from indigenous communities, came together around the topic, water connects us all. Our seven days together were spent in the field and in the classroom at and near the University of San Diego. We were placed into small groups and asked to develop a research project using data collected throughout the work and then be prepared to share our work our conclusions and solutions with the other research teams. In the field, teams conducted surveys, used probes to test water quality, and conducted litter audits and in the classroom we learned about plastic pollution, coastal wetlands, and watershed health. Each group's project was unique and it really helped demonstrate how water ties us all together and how indigenous communities rely on a healthy watershed. My group focused on microfibers, plastic fibers from synthetic clothes that make their way past waste filtration and into waterways. In addition to presenting to our peers, we also used social media to upload photographs, pose questions and raise awareness.

Water is one of the essential elements to sustain life. Water that is unhealthy impacts not only the environment, but the economy and community. Our group felt it was most important in the limited time we had to raise awareness around what microfibers are and that solutions are available. Although microfibers cannot be seen, we know they are there and we know the negative impact they have on wildlife, fisherman and human health. Our current water filtration systems do not always prevent microscopic microfibers from passing through. Microfibers impact every watershed and even more so in the Mission Bay and La Jolla watershed because of the1r proximity to coastal wetlands and the open ocean.

Being a part of the summit was an eye-opening experience on many different levels other than the science. The students I met were unlike other students I have been to school with. These students shared many of my same passions for the environment, but each with their own unique perspective. I learned so much from the students from the indigenous communities in San Diego and Taiwan. All the students helped me see the environment through a different lens. It was like leveling-up in a video game with new understanding and new tools I’ll be able to use in the future. The most important take-away from the Student Conservation Leadership Summit was it provided me an even greater commitment to understand and communicate the changing needs of our oceans toward a career in elasmobranchology.
Date: December 27, 2018 Views: 3946 File size: 10.1kb, 122.5kb : 1011 x 758
Hours Volunteered: 1,120
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 and 14-55
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 6.75 kg
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