By: Stella B., Spring 2021
Hi all! My name is Stella and I’m a junior at USC, majoring in Environmental Studies with a Minor in Marine Biology. This past semester, I have been working with Orange County Coastkeeper as a Marine Restoration intern. Orange County Coastkeeper (OCCK) is a small non-profit clean water organization whose mission is to protect the region’s water resources so they are swimmable, drinkable and fishable for present and future generations. To do this, Orange County Coastkeeper works implements programs in restoration, advocacy, conservation, education, enforcement, and research. Within their restoration department, Orange County Coastkeeper is currently working on a restoration project aiming to increase populations of native Olympia Oysters in Newport Bay as well as Alamitos Bay. Most of my work thus far has had to do with this project!
On normal days, I help write grants, write Instagram posts on specific wildlife in the Newport area and statuses on our restoration project, transfer information into excel sheets, and edit pages of the OCCK website. Because of restrictions concerning COVID-19, my work has been mostly online and not that of the usual marine restoration intern at this company since I cannot conduct extensive research in the field with my coworkers frequently. However, I have been lucky enough to participate in a socially distanced beach clean-up, conduct MPA watch surveys, and attend an event regarding OCCK’s current oyster restoration project.
Although most of my work this semester with Orange County Coastkeeper has been remote, I have thoroughly enjoyed it! The beach clean-up event I attended was extremely eye-opening to the volumes of trash that litter our beaches in Southern California. We found the usual suspects; copious amounts of styrofoam, straws, plastic bags, microplastics, etc. However, I was most surprised at the amount of large, unexpected items we picked up such as a large pillow, a singular knee-high boot, shampoo & conditioner bottles, and hairbrushes. Overall, between my boss Katie Nichols and myself, we collected around 25 pounds of trash within an hour and a half. It was also interesting to see the reactions of people who passed by us while we collected trash. Most people stopped to talk to us, curious about what we were doing and were appreciative of our efforts. I never realized that beach clean-ups could be a great opportunity to educate community members and give them resources to participate in events that will further help the place they call home.