Friday, November 23, 2012

Getting Inspired, Inc.: CA conservation group getting the job done

Getting Inspired, Inc. is one of many regional nature conservation organizations that keep a low profile but get the job done.  The organization focuses on bringing both land and sea ecology to schools through special outdoor classes or camps.  And Getting Inspired benefits California's local marine environment by spearheading a kelp restoration project that has been responsible for the re-planting of kelp forests in areas that have been, in some cases, barren for decades.

The organization is headed up by marine biologist and sea captain, Nancy Lightowler Caruso.  I knew Nancy when I was a dive team leader at the Aquarium of the Pacific and Nancy was just getting her kelp reforestation project off the ground.  It has grown into a project that includes 7,000 schoolchildren and 400 volunteer divers who assist in the aquatic greenhouse growing of young kelp and the eventually planting of the kelp along California's Orange County coastline.

Kelp is the basis for much of California's marine ecosystem.  It is the forest that provides food and shelter for a variety of different aquatic animals.  Kelp can be impacted by storms, which dislodges the kelp from the bottom, in addition to cyclical events like El Nino warm water currents, which heats the waters beyond the ideal growth range for kelp to flourish.  But these are natural events that constitute the normal ebb and flow of the kelp forest, just like brush and forest fires can be beneficial to terrestrial forests.

However, kelp has suffered from a variety of other threats.  In some areas, sea urchins, which feed on kelp, have exploded in numbers due to overfishing of the urchins' natural predators.  Then there's coastal pollution along with the effects of climate change which produces extended periods of warm water - all have taken a toll on the kelp forests.

Besides the concrete accomplishments achieved by the ongoing kelp restoration project, Getting Inspired also works with schools to enlighten and inspire kids to understand and appreciate the natural ecosystems that make California unique in many ways.  This includes getting schoolchildren involved in kelp, abalone, and white sea bass aquaculture and even an annual trip to Yosemite where they get to learn about the importance of land-based ecosystems as well.

Getting Inspired focuses its efforts on quantifiable results.  It does not engage in a lot of promotional hype or marketing as that would draw resources away from its core mission.  That's an admirable position that many other groups could follow. (Although I think Getting Inspired could use a good facelift to their website.  But that's a minor criticism.)

What's important here is that, as I have said many times in the past, we all should support worthwhile conservation organizations.  All have passion, many are dedicated and hard-working, but I prefer to focus my support on groups which can demonstrate action that equates into solid results.  Getting Inspired is one such group here in California.  Check them out.  And use that yardstick of quantifiable accomplishments to evaluate organizations in your area.

As a fundraiser, Getting Inspired is offering a Batik button-front shirt with a colorful kelp and garibaldi pattern.  It's a great gift item (I've ordered 6) that will also help support Captain Caruso's efforts.  You can learn more on Nancy's Facebook page (click here).

Source: Getting Inspired 

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