The European shore crab, scientific name Carcinus maenus, is in the process of taking over the world. This little creature, also frequently referred to as the green crab, features all the characteristics of your average crab, but now also has a feature most animals do not: it occupies five of the world’s seven continents.
The students of Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs across Fairfield County watched in awe as plankton, shrimp and other fascinating marine life was scooped up from the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. While being an Education and Outreach Intern, I have had the outstanding opportunity to inform the future of our humanity about the various threats to our global health while having fun at the same time. Environmental activism is something we must instill within our youth at a young age, to create a better tomorrow. Young children have such impressionable minds and seeing them get a firm grasp on ocean conservation through our educational programs instill within me so much hope and potential. It is time we truly take a deeper look at how we can mitigate and adapt to global environmental threats.
In a world where the climate crisis is so frequently spoken about in a dim light, we must recognize those youth who are making strides to create a better tomorrow. The children we worked with were curious and eager to get their hands dirty during beach clean ups and were attentive while learning about how various forms of marine life contribute to a healthy and stable marine environment. To work with these children was to be a part of something greater than ourselves. From the first program we did in the beginning of the summer, to the end, there was an evident shift in their attitudes towards marine conservation.
One specific conversation that I’ll never forget details this experience in its purest form. On our first day at the beach with the students, one boy asked me why there was plastic in the ocean, and why it was so bad. At our final beach clean-up with the students, I witnessed that same little boy running around and picking up plastic with such care and concern. Despite there being so much despair and hopelessness about how our climate is changing, we must celebrate these small victories and how they play into a much larger picture. Above all, these children should serve as a microcosm for the potential that all youth should learn to possess. The future of our planet is in the hands of the younger generation.