As a lover of the ocean and all wildlife therein and especially a lover of sea turtles, you might imagine how excited I was to complete the volunteer training to become a Share the Beach sea turtle volunteer. I had fantasies of walking the undeveloped beach at Gulf State Park and finding turtle tracks that would lead to a nests full of beautiful baby sea turtles as the sun rose each morning I worked.
But at the training I made this heart-felt commitment: Please use me wherever you need me. Any beach is fine. I am willing to go where I am most needed.
Still maintaining my pristine beach dream of sunrise bliss and later watching hatchlings crawl from the safety of the nest, down the trench I helped dig to the Gulf where they would swim into the moonlit ocean, I anxiously awaited the call to find out when I could begin. I was already giddy at the thought of all of this ‘nature’ filling my mornings and evenings.
My team leader contacted me this past weekend and I found out I was assigned to the stretch of beach from the city beaches to the state park. Condos, hotels, left-over trash from parties that isn’t cleaned up until sunrise…. I was bummed at first but my team leader was excited. “Nobody ever wants to work this beach.” So I knew that this beach was exactly where I need to be.
I supposed we all want the volunteer assignments that are beautiful and inspire us and thrill us with natural wonder. But the places that are most wounded, most trashed by drunk tourists, and the most over-developed places….those places need us. Specifically the mother loggerheads who come back to their home shore to lay their nests–not knowing it is now covered with beer cans or that concrete has become the new dune line since she was born there–need the help of people willing to walk among the garbage to save her tiny, precious eggs–some of the most endangered animals in the Gulf.
I now understand that sometimes the path put before me isn’t always one of easily-perceived beauty. My task is to find beauty where others don’t want to look and share it.
Where are you willing to serve–to help people, wildlife, wild places, domestic animals? How can you add your energy to making a positive difference in your community? If our world is going to change for the better it is going to take every one of us to make it happen.