Meet our North Sound Stewards citizen science volunteer of the quarter, Dexter Davis! (Photo, on left)
Tell us about yourself! What are a few things you like to do?
I love exploring marine habitats for creatures, doing some drawing / painting, and biking around Bellingham. I’m from Seattle, and now I’m a student at Western Washington University studying Marine Science and Mathematics.
What inspired you to join North Sound Stewards?
As a studying scientist I’m always looking for ways to get involved in local science, and connect with my community. NSS provides the perfect opportunity to meet people with similar interests to mine, while feeling like I’m contributing to meaningful research that helps us better understand our environment — and the changes it’s facing.
Passion for learning is universal. Regardless of background, those who enjoy the ocean ask questions to know more about it.”
If you had one thing to tell others about community science, what would it be?
One thing I think is really incredible about this program is that as a volunteer, I’ve seen there doesn’t have to be such a disconnect between the government and an average citizen like me. I’m collecting data that we send over to the actual agencies (like the Department of Natural Resources or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) charged with preserving the habitat we just examined. Through citizen science, I feel connected to the wider world and that I can make an impact. That to be a scientist, I don’t have to have a degree. I can contribute to science in Washington and pursue information just as an interested person who cares about the outdoors.
Why do you continue doing NSS work? What keeps you coming back week after week?
Even when I feel like I have the procedure down for a given scientific task (like monitoring the population of forage fish such as herring), I learn something new every single day out in the field. The volunteers always have incredible stories or careers that give me faith in humanity — look at all these people protecting our environment in all their different ways. They’re all incredibly passionate and supportive of each other. There’s a genuine sense of community-building, sharing experiences and ideas surrounding citizen science.
As a volunteer, I’ve seen there doesn’t have to be such a disconnect between the government and an average citizen like me.
Which of the citizen science programs are you a part of and what are some ways you participate?
I’ve woken up at 7 a.m. to scoop sediment at beaches to look for fish eggs. I’ve gone to Neptune Beach at 10 p.m. to scour the shore for sea stars. I’ve fought off crabs at Birch Bay while adventuring into the water to check our ocean acidification monitors. All of these experiences while chatting with fellow stewards and appreciating the nature of Whatcom County. I am a part of BlueWater Task Force, Forage Fish Monitoring, Sea Star Monitoring, and Ocean Acidification Monitoring. I conduct monthly water quality testing of Little Squalicum Beach water and at the Post Point Waste Treatment Facility, where all of Bellingham’s sewage is treated and the cleaned-up water released into Bellingham Bay.
What has been the most fun, memorable, or impactful experience you’ve had as a North Sound Steward?
I think my favorite memory was after RE Sources hosted a crab identification presentation. I was at Birch Bay on a beautiful sunny day for ocean acidification monitoring, and picked up each crab, identifying their species, and sharing them with my fellow stewards. That immediate application of the knowledge this program offered me was so rewarding. I felt really connected to the habitat we’re all trying to protect.
Tell us something you’ve learned through the program that really sticks with you.
One thing I’ve learned is that passion for learning is universal. Everyone wants to continue learning and expand their understanding of the way the world works. Regardless of background, those who enjoy the ocean ask questions to know more about it.
Anything else? I’ve met so many incredible people, and it allows me to put my learning into perspective, so thank you! I’ve loved every minute I’ve volunteered my time with North Sound Stewards, and the program has enhanced my love for science and the ocean. I just want to say I think this program is incredibly valuable. As a student of marine science, it has allowed me to get my feet wet (literally) in science and connect with local issues.