Blood, Sweat, and Baywater – First Experiences at Mobile Baykeeper

Hey guys! Due to difficulties with the blog and also my being out of the town the last week and a half, I’m finally able to post my first blog. Sorry for the delay!

I am interning this summer with an environmental non-profit in Mobile, Alabama called Mobile Baykeeper. The purpose of Mobile Baykeeper is to help protect Mobile’s bay and surrounding waterways, as well as monitoring air quality and preventing trash pollution in the city. This involves research, education of the public, and ultimately taking action (which relies in large part on the passing of policy within the city). As the Executive Director of Mobile Baykeeper has stressed to me, the process is: “Research, Education, Collaboration”.

Mobile Baykeeper is located right in downtown Mobile. Pictures will be coming shortly!

I had been familiar with Mobile Baykeeper throughout my childhood and especially during high school, due to their being well known in our county with the help of media and outreach events. Due to my interest in environmental studies, I applied for their available internship in hopes of joining their team. My internship responsibilities include conducting research for the programs department, writing regularly (including blog posts), synthesizing policy and scientific information for laymen, and attending community outreach events.

I began my internship right in time to help prepare for one of the biggest Mobile Baykeeper fundraisers of the year: the Grandman Triathlon. The fundraiser, held in Fairhope, Alabama (right across the bay from Mobile) accounts for a sixth of Mobile Baykeeper’s budget, and requires a long week of preparation. My first few days consisted of calling potential volunteers for the event. Then, as the event drew closer, I began to help set up the site. The process required the setting up of tents, food venders, banners; the placement of barricades; the making of signs; the preparation of the racecourse; and so on. And unfortunately, most of this took place in the rain due to ill timed weather during those few days. So, needless to say, it was a challenging few days, but we powered through and the triathlon was a success! I also met and worked with a ton of fantastic people/volunteers along the way, and grew much closer to the Mobile Baykeeper staff. They are all an absolute pleasure to work with and are very friendly! So, in conclusion, by the end of the week I had learned a lot about successfully planning for and managing a fundraising event for a non-profit.

After post-triathlon duties were finished, I was given the opportunity that I had eagerly been hoping for since I applied to Mobile Baykeeper. The executive director assigned me the responsibility of addressing Mobile’s trash problem by researching ways other cities have successfully cut down on trash in their bays and waterways, and creating an approach of our own. After beginning my research, I have learned that this approach must first involve conducting a study to measure how much trash is in Mobile Bay and surrounding waterways, and then determining a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that limits the amount of trash that can legally be released into the environment by an entity within the city (a business or restaurant for example). I have been diligently working on this project since I have returned from out of town, and I am loving it!

Lastly, my main expectation for learning this summer is being able to successfully create the beginning stages of a plan/approach for cutting down on the amount of trash pollution in Mobile’s bay and surrounding waterways. This will involve bettering my skills at researching, brainstorming, gaining public support through education, and implementing my plan in a successful manner. It won’t be easy, but I’m determined! I will absolutely keep y’all posted on how it is going.

Hope everybody’s having a great summer so far!

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