Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was surrounded by the gorgeous ocean scenery and national parks, which gave me the appreciation for ecological conservation that I have today. I am incredibly passionate about marine conservation especially, as I directly witnessed the effects of sea star wasting syndrome on the inlet I lived in. I recently got the incredible opportunity to volunteer on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (think rural Outerbanks) helping to monitor sea turtle nests. We would go out into the pitch-black night and watch beautiful green sea turtle mommas traverse along the beach to lay their eggs, and then spend weeks tracking those nests and waiting for the babies to emerge. The exhilaration of watching a baby turtle finally reach the lapping waves to start its life journey is one I’ll never forget. Through these extraordinary experiences, I have been inspired to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean acidification, and greenhouse gas emissions could be aided by cultural shifts in consumption, which I’ve learned more about through attending Champlain College. In my lifetime, I’d like to help enable this change for the betterment of marine life.
Written by Ellie Klaessig, March 2023