October 2015 Clean Water Champion

Simone Barley-Greenfield
This month we’re so excited to introduce you to New Hampshire’s new NOAA Coastal Management Fellow, Simone Barley-Greenfield. Simone’s here in the Seacoast for the next two years working on The Social Indicators Project (read about in the feature story this month) but we thought it’d be fun to get to know her a bit more beyond her professional capacity. Simone’s new to the region and is excited for a real New England winter (well, excited might not be totally true, but intrigued!). Please help us welcome Simone to the “Right Coast”!
simone headshot
Simone out and about during last month’s Bio-Blitz at the Seacoast Science Center
PREPHow long have you been a champion for clean water?
Simone: I would have to say that this past month has been the first time I consider myself a clean water “champion.”  Spending my academic career studying marine biology, water quality has always been something I have taken into consideration, but it was generally just a parameter to be measured and considered rather than an attribute to be protected and promoted.  I absolutely have considered myself a champion of environmental conservation and sustainability since middle school when I began volunteering at my local aquarium and participating in beach clean-ups. However, this position has been my first real opportunity to promote water quality from an entire watershed perspective, and I am so inspired by the opportunity to reach people and have an impact on their behavior.

PREP: How’d you get started in protecting clean water?

Simone: As I mentioned above, I identify strongly with marine ecosystems.  I grew up on the water in Seattle, Washington, and I spent my undergraduate and graduate years diving in the Monterey Bay kelp forests researching the behavior of various organisms.  I have seen how poor management of human inputs into marine systems can lead to dangerous conditions for both humans and marine organisms, and I believe strongly that all people should understand where their waste is going.  We do not live in a separate, hygienic bubble where clean water comes in and dirty water get whisked away without a second thought, and we have to stop pretending that is the case. I seek to inspire people to consider their water habits more holistically, to look beyond their homes and gardens and recognize the connections they have to their watershed as a whole.
PREP: What’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Simone: This is such a tough question!  If I have to pick just one, it definitely has to be scuba diving.  I am an avid scuba diver who grew up diving in the Pacific Northwest.  I spent my early diving years stuffed into a dry suit exploring vast underwater meadows of plumose anemones and watching Giant Pacific Octopuses peek out from underneath sunken boats in Puget Sound.  I spent my college and graduate school years diving in Monterey, California and even got my scientific and rescue diving certification while working on my thesis.  I actually prefer cold water diving to warm water diving (even though the Great Barrier Reef is AMAZING!), and I hope to get out in the Seacoast water soon!

PREPWhat’s been your proudest moment as a clean water champion?

Simone: My proudest moment so far has been getting this job as a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow!  I have never had the opportunity to work directly on clean water issues before, and I am so excited to be able contribute to the cause in a manner that will hopefully help create behavior change across the region.

PREP: What’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the Seacoast they love?
Simone: I would encourage people to tell the story of their special places to others.  Take time to reflect on the places that you love so much and think about how you would communicate that love to others.  Then go do it!  As a photographer, I find the most fulfilling way to show others how amazing places are is to upload photos to social media with a blurb about what makes that place special.  However, for others, it could be an anecdote about a time you spent there, a poem, a drawing, or simply taking someone with you to experience that place first-hand.  Connecting sense of place to creativity, and sharing that creativity with others, deepens our personal connection to the landscapes that sustain us, and these connections must be in place if we have any hope of taking further steps to protect those places.  So keep advocating for conservation policy and clean water practices, but make sure to work just as hard at sustaining your personal connection to the places that you love and be active in inspiring others to connect with them, too!

And here are just a few of Simone’s shots from around the Seacoast that she’s been sharing…great to see our Seacoast home through a newcomer’s eyes.

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.