“Keepers do what we do because we recognize that nature enriches us…aesthetically and recreationally, culturally, and spiritually, and historically. It connects us to our history, and to who we are as a people, to the common bond that we have as Americans. When we destroy nature, we diminish ourselves and we impoverish our children.” -Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Founder and President of the Waterkeeper Alliance
Water is the essence of life, without it, we couldn’t survive. And thanks to the many who understand the importance of this, organizations like the Orange County Coastkeeper exist. Orange County Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that helps protect fresh and saltwater ecosystems. But what is a Keeper exactly? Well, “the Keeper concept dates back to a 19th-century English tradition in which river keepers were wardens of private streams, assuring that the waters were healthy, well-stocked and free of poachers.” (Coastkeeper) Jump ahead to the 21st-century, and we see this tradition is still in effect and has expanded to more than just river protection. It is not only Coastkeeper’s mission to monitor and clean up beach pollution, but to increase environmental awareness among all.
Currently, over 300 Keeper organizations exist around the world today. All are non-profit organizations, each controlled by their own Board of Directors. Orange County Coastkeeper was founded by OC native, Garry Brown, who noticed a startling lack in sea life amongst the harbors and coast of Newport, that had once been overflowing when he was a young boy. To help his sons experience cleaner and safer waters, Garry founded Coastkeeper in March 1999. Coastkeeper is a division of the Waterkeeper Alliance, learn more by clicking here. Ten years after their launch, Coastkeeper had helped advocate countless projects that better protected water and wildlife, helped teach students and others the importance of kelp, launched the WHALES program, assisted in community outreach, launched Coastkeeper Magazine, assisted in environmental restoration and research, and much, much more! Check out a fully detailed list here.
Positive changes just don’t happen over night. It takes the right type of people with determined minds to make a change. If you’re up for making a difference in your community, there are plenty of ways to get involved. One of the easiest ways to start is by participating in Cleanup OC. Monthly beach cleanups take place the 1st and 2nd Saturday of every month. The 1st Saturday beach cleanups are held at San Clemente State Beach. The 2nd Saturday beach cleanups are held at Huntington State Beach. They take place from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, rain or shine. For the San Clemente registration, click here! Closer to Huntington? Register here. Students looking for internship opportunities to fulfill those much needed volunteer hours can take advantage of internships in one of the following areas: Environmental Advocacy and Research Internship, Environmental Education Internship, Marine Restoration Internship, Law & Policy Clinic , Environmental Public Relations Internship, and Volunteer and Communications Internship.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available, so if beach cleanup isn’t for you, find alternatives better suited for you here. And for those of you who may not have the time to volunteer you could always donate and help make a difference! Remember, small acts of kindness really do go a long way. Help keep our coast clean and set a positive example for generations to come!