Coastal Rivers naturalist inspired to pursue Master’s in Marine Affairs
Those of you who attended Coastal Rivers’ Membership Celebration in July had the chance to hear Melanie Nash speak about how her personal experiences volunteering with and working for PWA and Coastal Rivers have inspired her studies and career goals.
Article and featured photo by Coastal Rivers volunteer Adair Heyl.
“How can anything be more important than the environment?” asks Melanie Nash, summer staff naturalist at Coastal Rivers’ Beachcombers’ Rest Nature Center (BRNC) at Pemaquid Beach Park. “If we don’t reach kids, conservation isn’t going to happen. The little 7-year old who said, ‘Don’t go to the vending machine; fill up your water bottle.’ made me smile, because he is our next generation of stewards in the making.”
One might say the same about Nash.
At eleven years old, Melanie attended PWA’s two-week summer day camp, and “loved every minute of it.” Wanting to be more involved, she began volunteering as a Counselor In Training (CIT) for the younger kids’ session of camp. That wasn’t enough time for this eager young conservationist to share her passion for nature, however, so, after a few summers as a CIT at camp, she took up volunteering two or three days a week at Beachcombers’ Rest.
This year marks Melanie’s 11th summer at BRNC. In 2015, Melanie became a full-time summer staff member. She teaches marine life identification and the “Leave No Trace” philosophy while exploring the shore and its inhabitants. She organizes scavenger hunts, fish printing activities, geology workshops, Monarch butterfly migration programs, and a number of exploratory games with visitors of all ages.
She also helps run “Touch Tank Tuesdays,” a hands-on identification program courtesy of the Darling Marine Center. Each summer, Melanie delights in return visits by children and adults who want to learn more about life in the Gulf of Maine.
At a young age, Melanie has already developed an impressive résumé. At Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, she majored in geography, with an emphasis on human influence, and minored in political science with an interest in environmental advocacy. As her study abroad option, she participated in two environmental internships in London.
While completing her academic program, Melanie monitored vernal pools with Harvard Forest and conducted research on urban forests using LiDAR to measure carbon sequestration. She also wrote a legal state-wide conservation easement monitoring document for Massachusetts.
In September, she begins a Master’s in Marine Affairs two-year program at the University of Rhode Island. Her goal is to be a curricula director or education administrator for conservation programs. She plans to research the impact of sustainable holistic fisheries on the livelihood of fisherman. She also is interested in studying coastal community resilience regarding climate change.
Melanie considers the Pemaquid Peninsula and Maine her home. Her childhood experiences with PWA and now Coastal Rivers created her life’s passion and led to her mission to inspire youth to care for our coast and marine life.
“Of all the things I have done to prepare myself for a career in conservation,” Nash says, “the work at BRNC has been the most impactful. It is what has shown me that, at its core, environmental conservation is a grassroots and local movement that is about getting people involved and engaged in their local environment.”
We wish you great success, Melanie!