We caught up with Kelly Simmons, who has volunteered with the Cape Perpetua Collaborative’s monthly beach cleanups, sea star surveys, seabird nest monitoring and Marine Reserve Ambassador Program. She’s a pleasure to work with and has a contagious smile and friendliness about her!
1. What inspires you to volunteer? What is your why for volunteering?
Volunteering has always been a part of my life although it has always been in service to people. Now I feel like I’m involved in volunteering for the Earth. I am inspired by the natural beauty of the area that I get to call my home. At the same time, I am aware of it’s fragility. It’s important to me to be a good steward.
2. What is the coolest thing you’ve learned since you started volunteering in Yachats?
That’s a difficult question because I have learned so much. One thing I recently learned isn’t the coolest but it has had the biggest impact on me. Agency Creek runs through my yard and in the spring, I am constantly pulling up turnips wondering how they got here. On a recent webinar hosted by the Collaborative, I learned that the relocated native tribes were forced to plant turnips here in an effort to turn them into farmers. I can’t help but think about those turnips differently.
3. What is something you have learned while volunteering that has helped you in your life?
I think volunteering with the Collaborative has helped me to appreciate science more. I’m truly fascinated by all of the science that is taking place here in the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve. It’s exciting to know that I am helping in my role as a citizen scientist.
4. When you aren’t volunteering, what do you like to do?
I enjoy reading, delivering with Meals on Wheels, helping with the craft hour at the Sea Aire and DIY craft projects.
5. Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while volunteering?
I love sharing what I am learning with everyone. I think that comes from being a former teacher. Once I learn something, I can’t wait to share it. One of my favorite experiences was meeting some Italian tourists while monitoring sea birds at the Sea Lion Caves. I overheard them wondering what we were doing and because I can understand Italian (I say this because I can’t speak it very well!) I was able to tell them what we were doing and why.
6. What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I never did any kind of yard work until we moved to Yachats. Everything grows here!!
7. What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? What values and/or lessons would you pass along to someone?
I’d say start with something you want to know more about; passion for a topic is inspiring. You never know what will spark someone else’s imagination and move them to wonder about and care for this amazing place.
8. Anything else you would like to share?
I just want to thank everyone involved in the Cape Perpetua area who works with volunteers. It’s because of your passion and event organizing that I’m involved. I appreciate you!