Hearings, Beaches, and Boats

This summer and fall I am interning at a non-profit called Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.   I did not know it when I first started, but after a month of being here, I realized that this is a great environment for me.  Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is an extremely busy organization and I love it that way.

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The past month has been pretty busy because of the Metropolitan Beaches Commission.   This is a commission organized and hosted by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay where the public has a chance to interact with elected officials in order to make recommendations for improving the beaches in the Metropolitan area.   I have participated in many aspects of these hearings, including taking a tour of Revere Beach with the Commission and setting up the Revere Beach hearing with the staff from Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.    The hearing itself impressed me in many ways.    The elected officials who came seemed genuinely interested in helping make the beaches a better place, the local residents were passionate and realistic about what could be done to improve them, and the local officials who recognized the value of the event attended the meeting and wholeheartedly participated.   The different perspectives and opinions were great to hear and I was amazed by the fact that such a hearing even existed.   After seeing the results of the Commission, I think that this is a breath of fresh air after researching and reading about national politics.    I cannot wait to help with the rest of the hearings and see how they go.

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Last Friday I attended the National Sand Sculpting competition at Revere Beach with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.   Pictured above is the main sculpture, which was the product of multiple sculptors to support Boston Strong, a theme for the competition this year.

Despite the sweltering heat (a weather report said it hit 100 degrees on the beach), there were many beachgoers that day.    The live music, interactive tents (including a Disney tent and metal detecting contest), and food trucks probably helped that cause.    I spent most of the day at a kid’s tent which we shared with Revere Karate Academy and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, among others.    I talked to the employees from the DCR and the projects they are doing to educate youth in the Boston area.   I think that education is a key and fundamental part of saving the environment from further harm, and my short time at the beach was proof of it.   By the end of my day there (only 3 PM), the beach looked like someone took trash cans and emptied them out on the sand.    This was a stark contrast from its condition when I got there, merely 6 hours beforehand.  The DCR gave kids “grabbers”, which are admittedly a lot of fun to play with, and had them make trash turtles out of the trash they found on the beach.   They also educated them on the exact ways that trash hurts marine life.    I am grateful that I was able to learn about this program and contribute even a little to it.

 

While there, we also tested out a pilot survey that I am using for a project called “The Value of 1 Visitor” where we analyze the economic contribution that visitors to beaches make to local economies.    This project could be part of many other projects and was meant to educate another policy intern and I on the issues we would have with data collection.   It was the first time I had actually gone into the field and collected data, so I was glad that we were able to do this.   One of the better topics we talked to people about was the piping plover, a tiny, beach-inhabiting, near-threatened species of bird that was subject of some controversy at the Metropolitan Beaches Commission.   I hope to learn more about plovers and the responses they illicit in beach-goers as one of the few endangered species with which I am familiar and can influence.

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One of the other main aspects of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is their youth programs.   The picture above shows me (bottom left corner) looking on as two of our Senior Marine Educators show kids different species of lobsters, crabs, and starfish at the Revere Sand Sculpting Competition.    In addition to kids stations, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay offers a program called “All-Access Boston Harbor” which is a series of day trips for area youth groups to local islands.  Last week I attended a trip to Georges Island with roughly 300 kids and harbor historian David Coffin.  I personally oversaw a fishing station with a Senior Marine Educator who is currently attending my alma mater, UMass Amherst.  We did not catch any fish but the kids seemed to love losing bait and casting the line.  The trip was as educational as enjoyable, and despite the weather’s best efforts, it seemed the kids had a lot of fun being on the ocean and being away from the city for  a day.  I am glad to be part of such a vibrant and community oriented organization and I look forward to further participation in programs such as these.

About Vick Mohanka