By Caroline Connolly
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the ocean and being out on the water. I think the fascination was rooted in the overwhelming sense of relief incited in me, and the never-ending expanse of waves that seemed to spill over the horizon. My love for the ocean was joined by that of the Chesapeake Bay, by which I grew up in Potomac, Maryland and then Washington, DC.
However, it has only been as I have grown that my general appreciation for water and the beauty and recreation it provides has deepened to a passion to preserve and protect water quality. I feel so fortunate to have spent several days with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in middle school, in addition to several summers at a boating camp in rural North Carolina. It was these experiences that truly opened my eyes to the importance of not just protecting our land-based environment, but particularly that of our bodies of fresh and saltwater.
I learned the necessity of finding balance between humanity and the water we use to survive and thrive. Not only was I learning to sail, fish, and drive a powerboat, I was gaining experience in environmentally conscious boat maintenance and in the knowledge of fishing restrictions in place to maintain stock health.
As a high school student, my passion for all aspects of water and water quality manifested in the desire to conduct research furthering my knowledge of such. I learned about arctic communities impacted by sea ice melt and subsequent land erosion, and about fishing communities and industries in both Alaska and New England. I found myself making increasing connections between the ways that we use water and the ways that we do (or do not) protect its health. In turn came the desire to learn and to do more, particularly regarding the intersection of environment and policy.
While I still have a lot to learn in respect to the ways that we can preserve the health of our marine ecosystems and water quality while still enjoying agricultural, economic, and recreational benefits, I am so grateful for the experiences that have inspired me to pursue this knowledge and take action. I look forward to learning more about the environment, pertinent policy and the people they impact, and I look forward to continuing my appreciation for water and advocating for its preservation.Share This