A Bittersweet Farewell

by Casey Cruikshank

Casey Cruikshank and Bryon Duty work on debris removal at Samoa Beach. Photo by: Megan Bunday

After nearly three years at the Northcoast Environmental Center, I am making a very bittersweet farewell. The NEC provided an incredible space to learn, grow, and create an impact in my local community. It fostered my new ideas and gave me the space to channel my passions into Coastal Programs and turn my visions into reality. 

With such a supportive, passionate, and proactive team, my job was fun and impactful. I started off at the NEC as the administrative assistant and a few months later found myself in the position of Coastal Programs Coordinator. In the following two years, I brought a lot of new elements into Coastal Programs. I transitioned into year-round data collection on an entirely new database that allowed us to create our own locally specific list. I helped create an entry-level volunteer program called Trash Trackers that allows anyone and everyone to easily join our citizen science cleanup efforts. I also introduced an advanced-level Coastal Program called the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP) where we scientifically monitor a specific location over time to gain a better understanding of Humboldt County as a whole. Last, but not least, I transitioned Coastal Cleanup Day into a zero waste, month-long event. Thanks to shelter-in-place policies, the event now takes place over the entire month of September to keep cleanup volunteers socially distanced. 

I feel so proud of how far Coastal Programs have come and thrilled by the work that the NEC team has accomplished over the last few years. I feel honored to have been part of such an awesome and passionate team and I am so thankful for the lifelong friends that I have made thanks to the Northcoast Environmental Center, the member groups and the loyal NEC supporters. Though I am stepping down from my position at the NEC, I am not going far. I will be transitioning into work at the local Pacific Flake Sea Salt Harvestry and focusing on growing food on a larger scale in my backyard. I will still be in Humboldt County and my passion for debris removal and citizen science lives on. I plan to stay on as a volunteer and I look forward to seeing the new energy that is brought into Coastal Programs by whoever comes after me. Cheers to a bright and hopeful future!