July 2014 Clean Water Champion: Abby Gronberg, TIDES Intern

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’re excited to introduce you to PREP and the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s summer and fall intern, Abby Gronberg! Abby is part of UNH’s TIDES program – Training for Integration of Decisions and Ecosystems Science. Abby will be working with both PREP and GBNERR staff to synthesize, translate and communicate the science of nutrient pollution in Great Bay. Abby will be working with a variety of stakeholders, partners and town leaders to assess the gaps in knowledge and the opportunities for greater communications and education, especially for town leaders and decision makers. Her work will be essential in the way we communicate the often complicated issue of nutrient pollution. Abby has been actively working with the Blue Ocean Society for a number of years and has great experience teaching the young and old about ecology and oceans and we’re privileged to have her working with us these next 6 months!  Welcome to the team Abby!

PREP: How long have you been a champion for clean water?
Abby: It was in high school that I first became aware of the concerns for clean water. At the time I was a member of the Student Conservation Association at Pinkerton Academy and we organized a cleanup of the culverts around campus during the spring of my junior year, it was around the same time that I decided to apply to the University of New Hampshire for environmental conservation studies. Through my work at UNH I continued working to protect our water resources. As coordinator of the Student Environmental Action Coalition I worked to schedule more cleanups around the UNH campus at out along the coast at North Beach in conjunction with NH Surfrider. It was here that I became aware of the extent of the problem.

PREPHow’d you get started in protecting clean water?
Abby: Between the summer of my junior and senior year at UNH I started an internship with Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation–a non-profit organization based in Portsmouth, NH dedicated to protecting marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine through education, research, and conservation. One of Blue Ocean Society’s program is conducting beach cleanups from southern Maine to northern Massachusetts. As an intern I attended and helped with many of the beach cleanups within New Hampshire. I increasingly became aware at the large impact a few people could have by just picking up the beach. We picked up a number of different items including cigarettes, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, fireworks, among others. By picking up our beaches we were preventing the debris from entering the marine environment and negatively impacting humans and wildlife.
PREPWhat’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Abby: I love being on a boat out on the water. It doesn’t matter if that’s a sailboat, kayak, canoe, or whale watching vessel, and I’m lucky that my current job allows me to work on the water 4 or more days a week.
PREP:What’s been your proudest moment as a clean water champion?
Abby:  Following my internship with Blue Ocean Society I was hired as their programs coordinator and was tasked with organizing and facilitating many of the beach cleanups for the organization. My first year, 2012, we conducted 219 beach cleanups and collected 12,477 pounds of debris. This was one of my proudest moments as a clean water champion. I felt that the work I had put in throughout the year had made a positive impact on our water resources.
PREPWhat’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the state of NH they love?
Abby: If I could tell somebody one thing that they could do to protect the places around the Seacoast they love it would be to teach others about why you love that place. There is a phrase by environmentalist Baba Dioum that states “In the end we will

 conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand.We will understand only what we are taught.” I am a firm believer that people will protect the places around them if they love those areas and can only love those areas we understand. Take the time to share your love of places with family and friends so they can love and protect those places too.

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.