Ocean Defenders Alliance
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Sep 19 2017

AJ Jaeger

AJ JaegerI was born in Burbank, CA and lived in Hollywood until I was five years old when my parents moved us out to Encino in the San Fernando Valley. At that time, it was all lemon groves and oak woodlands.

Summers, my parents always took us camping. As the Valley became more and more crowded, all I could dream about were those camping trips. Joining Girl Scouts was what got me outdoors camping,backpacking, river rafting, and more aware of the environment.

I was shocked when I learned our National Bird, the American Eagle, was on the verge of dying out from DDT. Instant Environmentalist!

As I got older, my choice of a career was “anything that gets me outdoors!” I ended up at Humboldt State University studying Wildlife Biology, then Resource Interpretation, and finally graduated with a Degree in Outdoor Recreation with an emphasis in Environmental Education.

While at HSU, my free time was spent out kayaking the local rivers, lagoons, and estuaries. Through that I got involved with the North Coast Friends of the River where I held the position of Fundraiser Coordinator for 4 years.

Upon Graduation. I worked summers for the USFS as a Lake Patrol Ranger, then was hired by US Fish and Wildlife as a Fishery Tech, doing Salmon Restoration on the Trinity River. Eventually I got on permanent with CA State Parks and worked as the ranger/guide at the Weaverville Joss House State Historical Park in Weaverville, CA. My husband was working in the new field of mobile phones at the time and was offered a position out in Hawaii. We thought we would be here 2 years, it’s been 22!

Moving here was hard because I had to give up my dream job. I ended up volunteering for Hanauma Bay as an Education Docent for seven years to keep my finger in the “environmental pie” and learn about the ocean environment that surrounded us.

As I’ve always been interested in the environment, I took any and all classes available offered here for learning more about the ocean—what affects it, which affects us and the marine animals that live with in it.

My job on island as an adventure tour guide gave me the unique position of sharing with visitors everything I learned and how what they do in the middle of the US does affect us here in Hawaii.

Over time, my snorkeling and beach time has seen the increase of plastic and fishing pollution that has  thoroughly dismayed me. I have photos of fishing line around corals, turtles with hooks and the volume of needles that make up our “sandy” beaches.

Attending beach clean ups, documenting them through photos and video to help get the word out is how I spend a chunk of my free time. Meeting Kurt at the ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) meeting and hearing about the Ocean Defenders Alliance was the Universe giving me a gift. Cleaning the ocean of debris and documenting it, is just another way of doing my part.

 
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