Thursday, November 12, 2015

Volunteering with Save The Bay: A Day in the Life

By Annalisa Carmosino, Save The Bay Volunteer and Intern

When you volunteer with an organization dedicated to preserving something as dynamic as Narragansett Bay, you know every day will be different. Interns and volunteers at Save The Bay work behind the scenes and with the public, contributing to Save The Bay’s educational goals, orchestrating cleanups, and much more.

One of my favorite activities as an intern is assisting at our Exploration Center in Newport. The Exploration Center is home to a variety of creatures native to Narragansett Bay, and a few tropical friends who were misdirected by the Gulf Stream. I have loved learning about the animals in our bay, especially since there are so many I haven’t seen before now. The Exploration Center attracts families, school groups, and anyone walking along the beach who’d like to pet a starfish or see an octopus up close. Teaching our guests about the inhabitants of the bay and watching them interact with those creatures is extremely satisfying. When people have a face (or a fin) in mind, I think it makes them realize how important it is to conserve the Bay.

I’ve also learned that planning a Save The Bay cleanup requires more than gathering a few trash bags. Corporate groups, fraternities, and other organizations reach out to Save The Bay eager to do a group cleanup. Volunteers and interns find an appropriate cleanup site, organize trash removal with the city, and work with the group to figure out the best date for the cleanup. Any and all behind the scenes work is clearly worth it the day of the cleanup. These groups reach out to Save The Bay because they’re excited about our mission and want to help, so we always have enthusiastic volunteers. The beach captain-the volunteer or intern leading the cleanup-is responsible for explaining where and what to clean, and safety precautions. Every cleanup is different, so it’s up to the beach captain to be ready for anything. Volunteers find all kinds of litter on our beaches: clothing, toys, tires, tons of cigarette butts, lots of plastic grocery bags, you name it, we’ve found it.  The volunteers’ energy and the crazy things we find keep things interesting!

Save The Bay also hosts and participates in a variety of events, and throughout my internship, I’ve been assisting our events manager with preparations for Artists for The Bay, Save The Bay’s annual art show and sale in December.  Researching and contacting artists, donors for our raffle, and promoters has been a lot of fun; Rhode Island is a hub of artists and small businesses, so we’ll have plenty of great artwork and prizes. Save The Bay also makes an appearance at events all over the state. Recently we’ve participated in Johnson and Wales University career fair, the Artisan Show at Central Nurseries, and Bowen’s Seafood Festival. Interns and volunteers man the Save The Bay table, providing information about volunteering, upcoming events, and becoming a member. These events are an amazing opportunity to meet people who are unfamiliar with our mission, make connections, and recruit future volunteers or supporters of Save The Bay.

Save The Bay offers so many opportunities to get involved. There’s a role for everyone here. Whether you’re excited to work with the public or prefer to be behind the scenes,  as a volunteer, you’ll help Save The Bay in too many ways to count. To find out more about what you can do for Save the Bay, contact our volunteer manager July Lewis (jlewis@savebay.org) to dive in.