Meet our North Sound Stewards community science volunteer of the quarter, Ryan Robie!
Tell us about yourself! What are a few things you like to do?
Right now, my favorite activities include: getting outside and exploring our amazing local trail system, playing in the dirt (gardening or sustainable landscaping), and giving back to my community via volunteering.
What inspired you to join North Sound Stewards?
I love how inclusive and self-directed the volunteer experience can be.
I have always enjoyed staying civically engaged. In my former role as the Assistant Supervisor for one of the City of Bellingham’s Washington Conservation Corps crews, I was responsible for elevating opportunities that might enable crew members to learn about and give back to their local community. I had known about RE Sources’ community engagement efforts like Green Drinks and Community Action Meetings for a while, but had never personally had the time to fully participate in those opportunities. After attending the inaugural North Sound Stewards (NSS) orientation session and learning more about what it means to be a volunteer in this capacity with RE Sources, I committed to staying active as a NSS. I love how inclusive and self-directed the volunteer experience can be. Plus, Eleanor Hines’ enthusiasm and dedication to the community science cause is contagious.
What has been the most fun, memorable, or impactful experience you’ve had as a North Sound Steward?
In this year of socially-distant adventures and collective Zoom fatigue, I really enjoyed being able to connect with other community members and volunteers at the small and brief in-person events (like beach clean-ups) that I was able to take part in. I also got a lot out of the 100% free and online Climate Reality Leadership Corps training (facilitated by The Climate Reality Project) I completed in September.
In this year of socially-distant adventures and collective Zoom fatigue, I really enjoyed being able to connect with other community members and volunteers at the small and brief in-person events.
Which of the North Sound Stewards Community Science programs are you a part of and what are some ways you participate?
It has been somewhat difficult to engage as fully with NSS as I intended to this year (due to the pandemic), but I have been able to attend a variety of presentations and talks, including skill-building activities like webinars that North Sound Stewards and RE Sources staff have facilitated. I have enjoyed being able to get outside and participate in pandemic-safe, socially distant opportunities like beach and plastic pollution cleanups around the Bellingham area. I have also been participating in asynchronous and dispersed community science efforts by using apps like iNaturalist, Water Reporter, Clean Swell, and MyCoast.
Tell us something you’ve learned through the program that really sticks with you.
I was blown away when I learned at a recent NSS presentation that abandoned fishing gear in Washington is estimated to be a multi-million dollar problem on an annual basis! I knew that marine trash presented a problem, but hearing the facts and figures associated with the problem really helped to contextualize the situation for me.
When you choose to spend time working to keep our lived environment and community safe, you are sending a message to folks in your circles that our actions as individuals can help create positive change.
If you had one thing to tell others about community science, what would it be?
Staying active in community science-related efforts and keeping civically engaged about issues that matter to you can both make a meaningful difference and feel good! When you choose to spend time working to keep our lived environment and community safe, you are sending a message to folks in your circles that our actions as individuals can help create positive change. Become a North Sound Steward if you feel the need to better protect and understand our local near-shore lands and waterways.
How do you hope people will stay connected with protecting our waters during this time?
I hope that this time continues to reinvigorate all of our desires for clean and healthy land and water. I know that personally, I have found value in my ability to participate in community science efforts in a more unstructured manner this year. I hope that all of us are able to engage in some holistic and grounding nature therapy, whatever that may mean to you. Consider reaching out to someone in your circle to discuss: “What does being a caretaker for Nature mean to you?”
Banner photo: City of Bellingham Washington Conservation Corps crews