Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?
I volunteer as a Docent for the city or Morro Bay, CA. I help inform our community about protecting our wildlife and plant life we live with and around our MPA's(Marine Protected Areas). I also help with the Morro Bay Museums school groups and programs to help educate kids on Chumash History and the ecosystem around us, that exists in our MPA's. Lastly, I work closely with different members from the state parks to help find and make new signage, or informational pamphlets. We try to incorporate some Chumash History or Language into the signage. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible to help protect our land and waters and share the Chumash Tribe History on the land and water.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I am a tribal member, it is who I am. Not my Career. But I have always been drawn to the ocean since I can remember. I wanted to be a Marine Biologist from the time I knew what it was in early elementary. Being the Ocean Advocate for my tribal group has allowed me to work closely with different scientists and biologists.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
In these more recent years, those I work with from state parks, my tribal family and my immediate family have been encouraging me. They have opened many great opportunities to get involved with various Ocean projects.
What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?
As an Ocean Advocate, I love being able to work with large groups of scientists and biologists to see what they are working on and to get hands on experience with the different projects.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
Becoming a volunteer with the state parks Docent Programs is really what led me to where I am today, as a tribal Ocean Advocate. As a volunteer, I just jump on any opportunity that comes up with the OST, National Estuary Program and our MPA Collaboration or with SeaLife Stewards. As long as I get involved, bigger opportunities arise. In meetings, I talk about ideas I have, sometimes other groups like them and want to work with me.
What are your hobbies?
I love being outdoors: I swim, run, kayak, hike. I like writing and singing, I bake bread, I do DIY home projects, make shirts, draw up furniture designs, I paint, and every now and then practice my guitar.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
I am a Chumash Tribal Member, it is not a career; so I can't give advice in that area. However, I can say that if you have a passion for ocean sciences get involved with your school's programs. If you are not part of a school, then get in touch with local research programs. State parks are a good starting place. Ask how you can help or get involved. It can open so many doors and opportunities. You may be surprised where it takes you.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?
Mona, one of our tribal members forwarded me an E-mail from Julie Tumamait-Stenslie of the Ventureno Chumash Tribe, and Julie Bursek from NOAA asking if we had a tribal member that would be able to participate in the expedition.