We caught up with Cheryl Horton, who volunteered with the new Tidepool Ambassador Program this year. She’s very thoughtful, knowledgeable and appreciative of the natural environment around her. Keep reading to learn more about Cheryl and her volunteer experience!
1. What inspires you to volunteer? What is your why for volunteering?
My friend Megan Hoff shared about her experience volunteering for the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve Collaborative last year and I was keen to join in the fun! I love the Oregon coast – it’s my home and I care deeply about this place. Tidepools have always been fascinating to me, and I am excited to keep learning and sharing about the amazing organisms found in the marine environment. I firmly believe that we conserve what we love and understand, and this is learned person to person. Marine reserves are important conservation tools, and I want more people to know about and appreciate these amazing places.
2. What is something you have learned while volunteering that has helped you in your life?
The past 18 months have been a time of upheaval in our society. I’ve found it grounding to be reminded of the many non-human creatures going about their lives in the harsh conditions of the intertidal. It brought me joy to spend time outside discovering rare and common species, learning about their habits, and watching the seasons change. Volunteering allowed me to share these experiences and magical, fleeting moments with other people. I was reminded to stay present, grateful, and open-minded in my everyday life.
4. When you aren’t volunteering, what do you like to do?
I’m happiest when outside! My husband and I enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking with friends. We’re partial to the Oregon coast and do our best to get outside daily. I also enjoy learning new things! For example, this year I started collecting and cooking different types of seaweeds. This fall, I’m taking a printmaking class and am excited to start drawing again.
5. Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while volunteering?
I met people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds while volunteering. For me, the sense of wonder brought out in people while tidepooling is the best possible reward. On one tour, a group of women who had been friends for over 40 years explored the tidepools together for the first time. Another day, a mom and her young son brought exuberance and energy to the group. Grandparents with grandchildren visiting from far away held a kelp crab and saw sea stars for the first time. I felt privileged to witness them making memories and forming a connection to this place.
6. What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
Given my interests and home on the west coast, a lot of people are surprised to learn that I was born in New York City and grew up in Queens.
7. What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? What values and/or lessons would you pass along to someone?
If you are thinking about volunteering, do it! This program provides excellent training in the spring, and is well-run. Plus, the staff are knowledgeable, kind, and fun to be around. The tours are low key and flexible, while providing a great experience to participants. Volunteering is a great way to learn, give back, and meet interesting people along the way. Leave your expectations at home and stay open to the possibilities – you never know what you might find in the tidepools. Also, don’t be afraid to get up and out on the beach early, I promise you won’t regret it. I can’t say enough good things about this program and look forward to volunteering again next year!
8. Anything else you would like to share?
A big thank you to Jamie, Liz and Tara for their hard work and dedication running this incredible program! And, of course, a big thank you to all the intertidal creatures we had the good fortune to visit between the tides (especially the tiny octopus who made my day by showing up)!