Name: Ashley Navas
From: santa monica, California
School: UC Santa Cruz
Is Only One Earth, Lets Take Care Of It – My
volunteer experience at Heal The Bay
During my high school and college career, I have taking plenty of opportunities to help the community and further my experience outside of school. One of the most influential volunteer opportunities that has helped encourage my interest in biology has been the time I’ve volunteered for Heal The Bay. I started out volunteering at their main office by doing office support and advocacy. My duties were to work at table events or public events. During these events my job was to spread awareness and information about Heal The Bay and their mission, or the projects they were currently working on. Such as one event at a local park called Clover Park, where they held a sustainability fair for the community, my job was to spread awareness to people about the L.A County plastic bag ban. It really made me feel honored to spread awareness about the harm plastic bags have on our marine and terrestrial ecosystems. It surprised me how many people were quite ignorant about how often plastic bags end up down storm drains and into the ocean. It further brought this knowledge home to me knowing that this information, that I gave people about the ways on our ecosystems. I especially enjoyed relaying to people ways they could help by simply using a reusable bag, or participating in Heal The Bay’s beach clean ups, or just being smart on where they put their waste. This advocacy volunteer opportunity helped me gain the priceless experience of talking to the public and spreading awareness about the ecosystems us humans share with the many creatures in L.A. County. I volunteered at the main office for about a year before working for the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, run and The Bay. As much as I rate this volunteer experience at Heal The Bay’s main office quite valuable, the internship at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium run by Heal The Bay is what influenced me the greatest.
The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium has taught me so much in the way of the ocean and the many wondrous creatures that call the it their home. I have been volunteering at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium from June 2012 to present, and the experience has been every bit as rewarding. My duties include animal husbandry, aquarium maintenance, and rescue (when necessary). I have met many amazing people at this internship, many are now lifelong friends and mentors. At SMPA I have had the opportunity to share and teach many people about the ocean and the many sea creatures that inhabit it, but I have also been able to learn and grow with the help of my mentors and this incredible experience. If I could come back in ten years, I think my volunteer time has helped teach many about the ocean.