Clean Water Champion: Jen Kennedy

Jen Kennedy – Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation
Jen Kennedy on White Island, Isle of Shoals, Summer 2012
PREP’s Clean Water Champion is a monthly feature that profiles people and partners working to make a difference around our watershed. This month we catch the very busy Executive Director of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, Jen Kennedy.  Jen co-founded the BOS with a fellow whale watch naturalist when she felt frustrated with the lack of translation of open ocean research into information that could be used by the public. Jen’s tireless efforts have focused on the health of the Gulf of Maine, particularly a special habitat called Jeffrey’s Ledge. Based in Portsmouth, BOS has protected marine mammals by removing litter and marine debris from our beaches through regular beach cleanups, documented and educated on the varied and fascinating inhabitants of our waters, and inspired countless residents and visitors through their touch tank and shoreside education. We are so lucky that this fantastic organization calls the Seacoast home.
PREP: How long have you been a champion for clean water?
Jen: Unofficially, probably since birth! I grew up on Lake Ontario, so clean water to drink, swim in and as a habitat for animals has always been important. I went to Cornell and received a BS in Natural Resources. My career working around water started in 1995 as an intern and deckhand for the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company.  From there, I did an internship with the Whale Center of New England in Gloucester (where I met Blue Ocean Society’s co-founder, Dianna Schulte), and went back to ISSCo for several years before Dianna and I founded Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation.  Along the way, I also got my MS at UNH in Resource Administration and Management. 

PREP: How’d you get started in protecting clean water?
Jen: Oops, I think I answered that above!  But I remember as a kid having an interest in whales and the environment, and doing what I could to help.
PREP: What’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Jen: Anytime I’m on a boat, I’m happy. But watching whales or other marine life is an obvious first choice. But I love swimming, walking on the beach and kayaking when I have time.
PREP:What’s been your proudest moment as a clean water champion?
Jen: I’m proud every day of how Blue Ocean Society has grown in the past 11 years, and how much we have accomplished with such a small staff. It is really the thousands of interns, school program participants, and volunteers that has made that happen. But I was also proud in 2007 when Dianna and I received the Gulf of Maine Visionary Award.

PREP: What’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the Seacoast they love?
Jen: Pick up litter when you’re on a walk, at the beach or out in a boat.
To learn more about the BOS & how you can volunteer with them visit their website
Connect with them on Twitter & Facebook.

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.