Volunteer Spotlight: NEC Intern, Anneke Fischle


What inspires you to volunteer your time?

While I was in college, I discovered the impacts marine debris has on the ocean, sea life, and beach communities. I specifically found it shocking that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii, is predicted to have at least 79 thousand tons of ocean plastic floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2 (or roughly twice the size of Texas), with fishing gear representing more than 46% of the load surveyed. This lost fishing gear entangles many animals and impacts ecosystems, an example would be the whale that was entangled in fishing nets and washed up on Samoa Beach in 2019. Having learned about this, I decided to write my Senior Thesis on the topic of marine animal entanglements within fishing gear along the California Coast, as well as collaborate with nonprofits, like the Northcoast Environmental Center, who are working towards marine debris clean-up and prevention. 


What project are you working on at the NEC?

Alongside Chelsea, the NEC’s Outreach Coordinator, and Ivy, the Coastal Programs Coordinator, we have created the upcoming summer event “Craft for the Coast.” This will provide a fun opportunity to create works of art with found trash! The intention behind this event is to discover innovative, creative, and playful ways to prevent landfill waste and instead give what we consider to be trash a new life. Keep an eye out for more information on this coming soon! 


What words of advice do you have for people interested in volunteering at a local nonprofit?

Be intentional. If you have the capacity to work alongside a nonprofit that fuels your passion, give your time and energy in a way that is sustainable. Serious issues that nonprofits are dedicated towards supporting, such as social justice, climate change efforts, and the prevention of marine animal entanglements can often feel overwhelming. Although, through the power of intention, space can be created to move towards a more just world joyously and with the potential to heal ourselves, the Earth, and our communities.