8 Crazy Months

Flying into the new Year!
Flying into the new Year!

Hello, blogging world!

You might have noticed, upon closer inspection of this blog link, that things look a little different around here. Your eyes haven’t fooled you. Welcome to the year 2013, 7 In the Ocean! There have been a ton of changes happening in my life: personal, financial, work-related and I thought, “Can’t stop here! Must update blog!” So, here it is. It’s still in process and the theme will probably be changing again soon, but for now, voila!

So, changes! What’s going on? If you’ve been following any one of the myriad of social networks I’m currently into, you probably saw me traipsing across various tropical islands last summer and fall. It was a crazy time. I spent 4 amazing, glorious, unforgettable (I could go on) months on Midway Atoll, working as a volunteer for the US Fish & Wildlife System. There, I met 3 amazing ladies and a whole bunch of other crazy awesome people. Friendships were made, adventures were had and lots of laughter ensued. It was, to sum up: life-altering.

While on Midway, I spent a solid week or so panicking about what my future held and what the heck I was going to do after it was over. Turns out, I didn’t really have to worry: ducks saved me! In October, I flew to the Big Island of Hawaii and spent the next two months working for the US Geological Survey analyzing data I helped collect while on Midway for their endangered Laysan Duck monitoring project. It was a great opportunity to see the back-end of research projects and gave me a newfound appreciation for data collection and processing. I also learned the importance of neat handwriting. Come on people, just write legibly!

One of the coolest things that happened on the Big Island, aside from living in Volcanoes National Park and seeing an active volcanic crater every day ;-), was getting to talk to 7th grade students thousands of miles away about the Laysan Duck. Thanks to the power of Skype and my awesome aunt, I was able to teach two 7th grade science classes from Pawling Central School (located in south-eastern New York State) all about the duck and the conservation efforts going on to help save the species from extinction. The experience was unreal. For them, it was a chance to see a young person in the field, doing some pretty neat research. For me, it was just totally gratifying to see middle schoolers so amped about ducks and science! I had students thanking me for waking up so early to teach them, asking me what it was like to be a marine biologist (!!!!) and even received some awesome poems and songs about the duck. Amazing.

The good stuff just kept coming. After being away for almost 6 months, I finally headed back home in mid-December. Christmas and New Years were amazing and totally flew by. Then…I was doing something that I’ve actually dreamed about since being on Midway. I got to talk to people about my Midway experience. And not just any people either. Four days into 2013, I was traveling down to Pawling, NY where I got to talk to the entire 7th grade class of Pawling Middle School about how I came to be interested in plastic pollution research. The very same kids I Skyped with and more! They were curious, interested and asked some really good questions. That day was the moment I realized, “This is awesome and I want to do more of it.”

So…that pretty much brings us up to speed. Oh yeah, there is that whole bit about me moving to Maine and starting work at this place, for this organization,Β which is so incredible. To sum up: lots of changes have happened, life lessons have been learned (some good, some not so good), but all in all…8 months of crazy adds up to a pretty great time.

So, what’s in store for this wonderful, fresh new year? Well, more blog posts, I promise! Maybe a Facebook page? Talking about Midway whenever possible (shameless self-promotion: I have props, scads of photos and stories. If you want to hear the stories, see the props and photos or just talk trash, let me know!). Next up in the Midway lecture series:Β a plastics and albatross-themed lesson for a group of Cub Scouts that I’ll be giving this spring. Challenge accepted. πŸ™‚

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2 thoughts on “8 Crazy Months

  1. Thanks so much for the shout out, Ryan…but YOU were the inspiration! You really do have a gift & I am so proud of you. Your passion, exuberance and personality certainly makes it very easy for you to convey your knowledge. You totally hooked the kids, and they want you to come back! You have inspired many…believe me. Made the rest of us so much more aware! XOXOX

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  2. Christine Graham

    Ryan, so fabulous to hear about all this adventure, discovery and growth!! I am still hoping you will visit in Burlington but I guess I need to find a place for you to make your presentation…..then you will HAVE to come here! What is your fee? (really, you should have one, including mileage!!) Christine

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