Volunteers Give & Gain at Jacques Cousteau
Photo and story courtesy Pat Filardi, a volunteer at New Jersey’s Jacques Cousteau Reserve.
I’ve been a volunteer for the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Rutgers Marine Field Station here on the Jersey Shore for twelve years.
As a field volunteer I’ve been involved in many facets of scientific research. My first field work was tracking flounder on the Navesink River in the winter, which was very cold but very enjoyable. I’ve been involved in the ongoing collection of larval fish sampling, the taking of bottom samples to evaluate benthic life, trawling sessions in the Reserve—and my favorite—tracking the herring run in the Pineland rivers and streams. Most recently I’ve been kayaking with Ken Able in the Mullica watershed as he researched for his latest book Beneath the Surface. I not only enjoy the work, but also the people and all I have learned from them.
Being involved with these projects has been truly eye opening. I always find it incredible that after all the scientific study there is still so much to be discovered. Meeting so many great people who are willing to share their knowledge was beyond all expectation. To see the abundance and variety of life in our vast marshes is enlightening. It takes many people on all levels to collect and catalog all this information over many decades.
As a citizen scientist, I believe I have truly gained more than I have given. To be involved with the Reserve’s community has been both educational as well as personally fulfilling and I would recommend volunteering on some level to all. To be a part of the community made up of the JCNERR’s Education Center and Rutgers Field Station personnel have really made for a worthwhile retirement.
Every Reserve is special. And everyone has a Reserve story to share. Why do you care about your Reserve? How has it made a difference in your life? Have a few minutes today? We want to hear your story.
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