New State | New Chapter

Science, Thoughts

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My passion and drive are two things that never diminish.

2016 has been quite the roller coaster to say the least, but I finally feel like it’s turning around for the better. Let’s rewind a year (aka 2015). I originally moved back to California from Puerto Rico to attend CSULA for my teaching credential in science. I completed one semester, and realized that it was not the correct pathway for me. My mom and grandma told me from the beginning that I couldn’t be contained in a 4-walled classroom for very long and be happy… turns out they were right.

I have family in Portland, Oregon, so I began to look into some graduate programs up there for a change of scenery, and also to be closer to them. Portland(ia) is very green & eco-conscious, so I knew it would be a good place to look for environmental education opportunities. It didn’t take very long until I found a program that was PHENOMENAL.

At Portland State University, they offer a Master of Science specializing on Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE). When you say it out loud it’s a mouthful, but it still doesn’t beat my previous degree: Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science Technology and Policy focusing on Marine and Coastal Ecology. Say that five times fast! 

I digress… continuing on with the story… I researched the graduate program more in-depth and ended up attending an LSE Open House last October at the university. My cousin Tiffany and I arrived couple minutes late to the Open House unfortunately, but we still ended up conversing with one of the professors of the program and a previous LSE graduate. They were both very welcoming and helpful, and I left feeling overcome with a mixture joy and relief that this program was truly meant for me. Ultimately, I want to be a Director of Education for an aquarium or non-profit, and/or eventually create my own environmental school focusing in marine conservation. A master of science degree would help me achieve that goal!

Once I had finished my meeting with the professor, Tiffany insisted on taking a photo of me against this wall at the LSE Department (since it WAS going to be my new school eventually). While we were in the middle of taking the photo (seen above), a gentleman walked up who had guided us earlier when we first walked into the offices. He was just checking in on us to make sure we were successful in locating a professor to speak with. Low and behold, he was the Admissions and Student Support Specialist for the LSE Program! I immediately felt like a complete idiot for taking this silly picture while he was trying to check in on us, but he was a good sport about it all 😛

Long story short – I applied – and got accepted earlier this month! I’m not going to lie, I went back and forth with my final decision. Paying out of state tuition is A LOT of money, but my close friend/mentor said don’t let money be the deciding factor if that’s the only thing holding you back. He is right. I’m 28, single, no kids, and I don’t have any other seemingly huge excuse to keep me from making this next life move. It’s time for a new state – new friends – new adventures – and new memories for (at least) the next 2 years!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me in this process – I have leaned upon many of you in this final decision. I appreciate your support whole heartedly – and I can’t wait to have you all visit me! There will be many Pacific Northwest adventures to come, I am sure of it. Time to bust out my flannels and rain boots…

See you in July, Portland!

 

PS – If you know of any potential job opportunities or housing (preferably furnished) in Portland –> PLEASE COMMENT BELOW ❤ ! 

 

 

On The Same Level

Science, Thoughts

I watched this video of Jane Goodall tonight, and it clicked with me VERY strongly.

Mind, Body & Soul

Every point she hits, I agree. Every experience she speaks of, I relate.

The majority of the problems on our planet result from human actions. The truth of the matter is, we have overpopulated the planet. We are abusing and depleting our natural resources, and ultimately leading to a future of intense suffering for the next generation. But, there’s not easy way around solving that matter. With morals and ethics involved, no government official is going to bring up this topic.

So, do your best to decrease your environmental footprint, and pass that message along to as many people as possible. Be the change you want to see in the world.

www.cloakedtruth.com 

 

 

#StartWith1Thing

Science, Thoughts

discovery-education-startwith1thingIt all starts with 1 thing.

1 kind act a day | 1 change to your daily routine |  1 new method of transportation | 1 day of changing your diet | 1 different outlook on the way you live life.
Seeing as it is the night before Thanksgiving, I found it fitting to sit down tonight and write this for you. I am going on 4 years as a Vegetarian – and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I don’t follow some sort of ‘rule book’ for my diet, I just listen to what my body accepts and rejects. I don’t push it upon people to eat a certain way or not, and I do appreciate others having an open mind about why I do things differently. But unfortunately, for the most part omnivores can’t FATHOM how I can survive my life without eating SIZZLING BACON, or RAW SUSHI, or CHICKEN NUGGETS?! Let’s face it, we all have brought up in such a carnivorous culture who don’t like change.
I have my continuing long list of reasons why I choose to not eat meat or fish everyday, which you can read in my previous posts about being a vegetarian. Often times it is hard for me to spit out all these facts about why it’s beneficial to choose forks over knives on your dinner plate, but this video hits the head on the nail on under 3 minutes. I would like you take a gander at these videos below, and maybe you might understand why it might be good to #StartWith1Thing about not eating meat…today.
Thank you to Discovery for creating the #StartWith1Thing movement to help make the world a better place. A movement can be born when hope is ignited.

 

If your interest is peaked – continue watching Graham Hill’s TED Talk : Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian. It’s very eye-opening, and such a simple change that if we all did, it could make a BIG difference.

 

You Vs. Ocean Creatures

Science, Thoughts

The ocean is a vast, mysterious, and beautiful place. Underwater creatures get the opportunity to grow to extreme weights and lengths compared to us terrestrial animals. Could you imagine walking down the street and seeing 12 foot long crab pass by you by?!

See how Scuba Steve compares to some of the GIANTS OF THE DEEP 😀

When Scientists Geek Out.

Science, Thoughts

Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico, Scuba Divers, Nurse Shark

As a marine biologist, I can’t even begin to list the amount of times I gleefully screamed or screeched underwater when I saw something astounding right before my own 2 blue eyes. Some underwater face to face encounters that stand out are: having a whale shark come straight towards me in Mexico, a giant cuttlefish staring at me in Australia, and multiple manatees in Puerto Rico. Heck, I couldn’t even form a sentence when I saw a huge manatee moving underneath me!

Yes, I totally was that nerd who sat on the floor in-front of the TV a couple of years ago after the Super Bowl to watch the first footage of a live giant squid caught on camera. And of course, I shed tears of happiness because cephalopods are some of my favorite animals on the entire planet. If there is ever an opportunity for me to go into a submersible 1000’s of feet below the surface, YOU BET I WOULD BE ON THAT SUCKER IN AN INSTANT!

So when I saw this video yesterday, I knew I would have gone just as crazy as one of those scientists operating the ROV. Can you imagine starting at a screen for HOURS and even DAYS just hoping that something interesting passing in front of your camera and lights 600m underwater? Then, BOOM! Check out what puts on quite a little show for these researchers 🙂 (Here’s the article if you want to read it as well)

Swimming With Wild Dolphins

Science, Thoughts

There are moments in your life you never expect. 

There are moments that you can only imagine.

There are moments that leave you speechless.

There are moments you can only hope for.

There are moments that are unreal.

There are moments like this…

http://vimeo.com/chanelhason/dolphins This happened after a couple boat dives off the coast of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. On our way back to the marina, the captain spotted a pod of dolphins swimming in front of us. As we got closer, they started to play in the wake of the boat. Soon, the boat slowed down to a stop. My friend Sara asked the captain if we could hop off the back of the boat and get a closer look at the dolphins. He was hesitant to say yes, mostly because he didn’t want to get our hopes up, since often the dolphins immediately swim away when people jump into the water with them. BUT- we took the risk 🙂 I only had my dive fins, and I didn’t want to fuss with putting my booties on, so I just grabbed my mask, no snorkel, and jumped into the open sea with my GoPro. WOW. All I kept saying was:

“THIS IS SO COOL!”

I had no other words. I was speechless. It was a moment that compares to no other. They were Atlantic spotted dolphins, which I had never seen before in the wild. You can see that the older dolphins had more prominent spotting, and the younger ones were more uniformly grey with less spots. They were BEAUTIFUL. One of the most amazing things about swimming with them was listening to their clicks and whistles underwater – the sounds were so magnifying! They were swimming in small groups of up to 3-5 individuals, and bouncing between one person floating in the ocean to the other. They swam amongst us for at least 15 minutes (which felt like an eternity). I honestly didn’t want to get out of the water. Yes, I did understand that I was interacting with wild animals. Dolphins do sometimes show aggression towards humans (it’s been video documented). But, in all reality, if I had to get hurt by something in the ocean, I wouldn’t be ashamed if it ended up being a dolphin. Luckily, the dolphins we encountered were very friendly and curious, just like the fascinated humans staring back at them in the water.

Definitely, one of the best moments of my life.

 

Should You Stop Eating Fish?

Science, Thoughts

Mermaid Chanel

Do you eat fish?

 I get this question ALL THE TIME

My answer: NO

 

When did this happen? Not too long ago. To be honest, I never liked eating any type of fish as I was growing up (with the exception of shrimp). I do splurge on occasion at sushi restaurants on tempura shrimp rolls; yes I have my faults. I’m trying to stop since I know shrimp are one of the largest by-catch fishery in the world. That means for every 1 pound of shrimp caught, there’s around 5 pounds of ‘non-shrimp’ animals caught that most often are pulled up dead in the nets and just tossed overboard.

Tuna: I find the smell repulsive. Salmon: no thank you. Those were basically the only fish I remember my mom making me when I was young. For family holidays, my aunt loved cooking lobster. While everyone feasted on that red crustacean what did I eat? Mac and Cheese of course!

After dedicating my life to conserving the ocean and the planet, I’ve concluded many concrete reasons why I shouldn’t eat fish. Without going into too much detail for my reasoning – it boils down to these key points: when it comes to detrimental fishing practices, over-fishing, mercury poisoning, the extremely high percentage of mislabeling of fish in stores/restaurants,  failed fishing law enforcement, and so forth… It is easy for me to pass on eating fish.

One of my marine science heroes is Sylvia Earl. After reading the article featured below the other day, it was like a breathe of fresh air. Dr. Earl explains so beautifully why she also doesn’t eat fish – and it was perfect. I agree with everything she says – let me know if this changes the way you think about eating fish now.

 

Article Below Credited to : Natasha Scripture from Idea.Ted.Com

Oceanographer (and TED Prize winner) Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent half a century campaigning to save the world’s seas. A new Netflix original documentary about her life’s work sheds light on the environmental impact of the commercial fishing industry and Earle’s crusade to create underwater “hope spots” through her organization, Mission Blue. After watching the film, it’s hard not to wonder: Are any fish still okay to eat? We turned to our favorite aquanaut for advice. Below, check out Earle’s take on wild fish, tuna rolls, and her ideal meal.
To restore the ocean ecosystem, you’re saying we must put an end to overfishing and bottom trawling, which you liken to “catching songbirds with a bulldozer.” Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?
Except for those living in coastal communities — or even inland if we’re talking freshwater species — for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife. We have seen such a sharp decline in the fish that we consume in my lifetime that I personally choose not to eat any. In the end, it’s a choice.
What if I just want to have a tuna roll every once in a while, as a treat? Would that be so bad?
Ask yourself this: is it more important to you to consume fish, or to think of them as being here for a larger purpose? Today, marine fish are being caught with methods that our predecessors could not even imagine. Our use of large-scale extraction of wildlife from the sea is profoundly detrimental to the environment. We’re using modern techniques capable of taking far more than our natural systems can replenish. Think about it — the factory ships that use enormous nets or log lines, some of which are 50- to 60-miles long, with baited hooks every few feet, they take more than can be replenished naturally, and they take indiscriminately. Worst of all are the bottom trawls that scoop up the whole ecosystem. And most of what’s taken in them is simply discarded. With respect to the ocean systems, they’re just leaving a hole. A huge space that is not going to be filled overnight. It’s not eco-conscious to eat tuna — maybe thousands of plants make a single pound of Blue Fin Tuna. It’s also difficult to replenish that species of fish, as they take years to mature. Not to mention that you’re consuming all of the toxins that the fish has consumed over the years.
Sometimes it gets confusing. We’re told not to eat so many things already — like not to consume cows, pigs or chickens from factory farms for both health and moral reasons. Now you’re saying we shouldn’t eat fish either. Does that mean we should all follow a plant-based diet, for both health and moral reasons?
It’s obvious. It’s not a matter of me saying so. It’s not a matter of opinion. There’s no question that a plant-based diet is better for you and better for the planet. If you ask me, the best thing is a plant-based diet — or a largely plant-based diet, with small amounts of meat coming from plant-eating animals. I’m not saying that you have to stop eating meat, but think about what it takes to make a plant compared to what it takes to make a plant-eater, like a cow, chicken or pig. Even carnivores on land are lower on the food chain than most fish. Think of a tiger or lion or a snow leopard. They eat plant-eating animals. They eat rabbits or deer. So, food chains on land tend to be fairly short. Over 10,000 years, we have come to understand that it’s far more efficient not to eat carnivores. We eat grazers, the ones that we choose to raise, such as cows and pigs. Perversely, many of the animals that are natural grazers, we are force feeding wild fish. We’re taking large quantities of ocean wildlife, grinding them up, and turning them into chicken food or cow food or pig food — or even into fish food.
IF YOU HAVE TO EAT MEAT, OR RATHER CHOOSE TO EAT MEAT, EAT ANIMALS THAT EAT PLANTS.
So if you have to eat meat, or rather choose to eat meat, eat animals that eat plants. In the case of fish, there are long and twisted food chains — for example, the tuna that eats fish that eats fish that eats fish. We choose to go high up the food chain when we eat halibut or swordfish or tuna or lobster, but ultimately that’s not what’s good for us or for the ocean.
You’ve mentioned that a sea bass can live up to 80 years and that we’re often unaware of how old the fish is that we’re consuming. Why is that important to consider?
We need to consider the bioaccumulation of what’s in the ocean. Mercury concerns exist with good reason, especially when eating carnivorous fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, and orange roughy. It’s not the smartest thing for our personal health because of what accumulates in these top carnivores over the years. If you want to eat responsibly, not just for your health but again for the health of the planet, know that the longer an animal is exposed to the world as it is today, the greater the chance of accumulating the toxins that now exist within the ocean or within freshwater, or even on land. What farmers choose to grow for consumption — for economic and taste reasons — tend to be young animals, like chickens, barely a year old, not 10-year-old hens. In fact, hens don’t usually get to be that old. We eat cows young — yearlings, sometimes two-years-old, but not 10 or 20 years old. We eat far more animals that are a few months old, not years in the making. But in the ocean, it takes 10-14 years for a Blue Fin tuna to mature, let alone to reach its full potential. So let’s say you take a young tuna, 10-years-old — think of how many fish have been consumed in a 10-year period to make even a pound of one of those wild ocean carnivores.
What about local fishers who depend on fishing as a means of survival?
I do have sympathy for those who have a long tradition of making their living by extracting wildlife. I don’t think they should be targeted as the problem. But even they know that, armed with modern technologies, they have the power to extract far beyond what natural systems can produce. We need common-sense steps to protect feeding and breeding areas in coastal areas. We need to have a system with restrictions, not just be able to take stuff from all places at all times in unrestricted numbers. We have a chance now, because we now know what we could not understand a few decades ago. Smart agriculture may be an option for providing food for people who like to have aquatic creatures. But it has to be done with extreme care and with protection. We need a safe haven for these wild creatures, to recover from what we have already taken, as well as sustain what we might take in the future.
What about catch shares and privatized fish farming?
Those are well-intentioned, but not approaches that I necessarily endorse. I think that the best value for aquaculture comes in closed systems where you recycle water, capture nutrients, and do not let the nutrients that are produced by the fish escape, which is what happens in these open-sea farms. In fact, it can be a problem when you concentrate fish and don’t allow them to move around. Or even when they have these open pens, which they are proposing to float widely in the ocean. These are approaches that are aimed at service choices, not needs. These approaches continue to focus on the luxury taste we have acquired, not the need that people have for food. For food, the best value you get is in raising plant-eating fish under circumstances where, as they say, you get “more crop per drop”; where you capture the nutrients and recycle them into plant-based farms. In nature, there is no waste. Part of the problem in taking so many fish out of the ocean is that you’re breaking the lakes and the crucial chain that gives back with its constant movement of nutrients. A smart aquaculture system is not one that is in the ocean or even in a natural body of water, but one that is designed like an aquarium, functioning like a big figure eight: plants on one side, fish on the other. The plants go to the fish and the nutrients go to feed a vegetable garden, with sunlight driving it all. The fish farms that raise carnivores need to be looked at with the understanding that taking large quantities of wildlife, wild fish, to get small quantities of farm fish, is not a sensible way to run a planet.
OK. You’ve convinced me. No more fish. When did you decide to give it up?
It was a gradual process. I come from an omnivorous dining family and eating seafood was just a natural thing to do. First in New Jersey, where the wildlife was captured and consumed locally, then in Florida. But even when I lived in Florida, it was clear that the numbers were going down as our numbers were going up. Now with 7 billion people on the planet, eating wildlife has to be a luxury, except for in those coastal communities that have few choices about what to consume. Today, armed with modern technologies, we can easily diminish and eliminate local wildlife. It isn’t like 10,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago or even 50 years ago. These days, our capacity to kill greatly exceeds the capacity of the natural systems to replenish. The amazing thing is that our focus is on looking at ocean wildlife primarily as food. In North America really, it is always a choice. It is never, as far as I can tell, a true necessity, given our access to other food sources. So I choose not to eat it.
What is your ideal meal? For example, if you could have anything for dinner tonight, what would it be? A sustainable meal of course.
There are so many choices. It’s not coming down to any one particular thing. I love the creative choices that are now available that didn’t exist when I was a child. Grains that are high in protein and have much more flavor than some of the more traditional ones like rice, and variations on the theme of legumes, eaten raw or cooked or incorporated into various recipes. People think of a plant-based diet as boring. But it’s only in your imagination, or lack of it, that plants are boring. There are 250,000 kinds of land-based plants — and then in the ocean, depending on how you count, if you include the plankton — you’re looking at maybe another 20,000 that we know about, including seaweed cultivated for the omega oils that people want. You don’t have to kill fish to acquire omega oils.
One last question. You’ve logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, researching and observing wildlife. Is it true that different fish have different personalities?
The wonderful thing about life as a biologist is that every individual — not just people or cats or dogs or horses — but all living things, even trees, are unique. Every being is unique. It’s just a fact. And certainly with fish, like birds, they all have a distinctive appearance and if you’re sharp enough to distinguish one from another you soon begin to see that they behave differently. If that’s personality, which I guess it is, each one has its own little quirks. For example, some fish are more aggressive, some are shy. And it’s wonderful spending thousands of hours under the ocean getting to know not just “the grand suite” or the kaleidoscope of life out there, but also to recognize all the individual pieces.

Learning to Sea Podcast

Science, Thoughts

 

Miss Scuba USA


LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

 

I was recently interviewed by Ashley Hasna, who started the Podcast –> Learning to Sea. We chatted about how I got involved in the marine biology field, and how that lead me to becoming Miss Scuba USA 2013. I also throw out some fun facts about the Miss Scuba International Pageant that happened behind the scenes – pretty funny stuff! Here’s a little more about the podcast itself:

Whether living on, near, or far from the water, this is a place to comprehensively learn, love, and share your enthusiasm about the ocean.  We’re covering the ocean from fact to folklore.

Find latest ocean news, interesting crafts, book reviews, and more on the blog. Also hear from ocean experts and enthusiasts on the Learning to Sea podcast. Connection is key, so come down to sea level and enjoy the tide.

Ashley had heard my previous appearance on the Scuba Obsessed Podcast, and reached out to me to see if I would like to be interviewed on her podcast as well. I said OF COURSE! I love meeting and connecting with people from all over the world – luckily podcasts are a great way to do that 🙂 You can listen to the podcast by clicking this link or downloading it on iTunes as well. Be sure to follow all of Learning to Sea’s social media outlets 😀

Follow Learning to Sea:

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Revelation

Science, Thoughts

Sunset Kayak

I moved to Puerto Rico about a month and a half ago for what I thought was my ‘Dream Job.’ As time passes, I am realizing that this isn’t my ‘Dream Job,’ but instead an eye-opening revelation about what I really want to accomplish in life. I work with 80% kids as my job as a Naturalist. They are definitely a handful and exhausting to keep them entertained for increments of 3 hours at a time back to back everyday. But to be honest, it is so thrilling and rewarding to see how excited they get when we take them to the tide-pools, snorkeling on a coral reef, or even explore a sub-tropical rainforest. Most of these children live in the city (NY), where they don’t get to experience ‘nature’ as often. We even have parents who join in our activities who have never been immersed in a forest, and we have the pleasure to show them a whole new world for the first time.

So, I’ve decided that after my year here, I want to move back to California and get my TEACHING CREDENTIAL! I’ve said it many times before that what I am meant to do on this planet is to educate as many minds as possible about our natural environment and ways to protect it for future generations. My current job has solidified what I want to do in the future – teach kids about natural world and pass onto them all the lessons I’ve learned through my life experiences.

With so many friends who are teachers, I am lucky to have a large community of people willing to answers all the questions that will soon arise once I start this process. It’s actually pretty ironic that I am deciding to become a teacher… in 12th grade at our Senior Breakfast at South Pasadena High School, we voted for people in all sorts of “Best/Most Likely” categories. I won Most Spirited, which is a title I’ve held strong since Elementary School basically. And then out of the BLUE, my class voted me “Most likely to become a teacher at South Pasadena High School.” It looks like my classmates were predicting a future for me even before I knew it!!

I also recently just moved to a different house with a new roommate. It is closer to the beach (literally right across the street), and it’s closer to work. The house is a bit of a fixer-upper, but I think it will be a fun project to take on. My roomie is a cool guy from Washington, who actually works right next door to me at the water sports facility for the Dorado Beach Club. We have a 3rd bedroom open for grabs, which will hopefully be filled by the new Naturalist we are hiring ASAP. We shall see! Things are looking up 🙂

MONTH 1 – Puerto Rico

Photography, Science, Thoughts

chanelhason.naturalist

Hello blog world – oh how I have missed you! I apologize for the absence over the last month; I shall use the “moving my entire life to a new part of the world” excuse.

So today marks the 1-month anniversary of my bold, wild, crazy, exciting, and exhilarating move to Puerto Rico. If you don’t know the backstory already about why I moved – read my previous post.

To be completely honest, it has been a tough adjustment. Yes, I moved to a Caribbean Island and it’s sunny and 80 degrees year round…but it hasn’t been all sunshine for me. To completely sell your life and belongings, say goodbye to friends, family, and loved ones in just 2 short weeks before I made a drastic move across the globe; it didn’t really hit me until I arrived here. It all happened in a blink of an eye. But, this opportunity was not something I could pass up. It’s what I’ve been striving for basically my entire life. I can already feel that this experience will lead me to something wonderful. What’s life without taking risks?

TRANSPORTATION: I don’t have a car, but I did buy a bike. I’m actually quite nervous to drive here…the rules of the road most often don’t apply here in Puerto Rico haha. I mostly walk along the beach every morning to work which is 3 miles (takes me about an hour) – which is soothing and relaxing. Whenever possible, I try and get rides from friends to and from places 🙂

WORK: My job as a Naturalist is definitely A LOT of work. We are not only Naturalists, but we are housekeepers, chefs, baby-sitters, entertainers, and have to always be up for anything. We have a lot on our plates each week, but it’s always fun to know that no one-day at work will ever be the same. We have a multiple activities – mainly 3 a day. That ranges from coral reef snorkeling in the morning, snorkeling with underwater photography, night snorkeling, eco-nature hikes, creatures of the night (forest at night), ambassadors in the kitchen (eco-cooking), fish form and function, Taino arts and crafts (native people of Puerto Rico), sunset kayaking, kayaking and snorkeling adventure, and more.

There are only 2 current Naturalists – but my coworker who has been here a year is leaving in April to pursue other ventures. So, I am hoping we hire a new Naturalist ASAP because doing all the work we have to do alone is very difficult. Do you want to apply? 😉 Here’s my first GoPro video I made for our department.

FOOD: Another big adjustment is getting used the cuisine. Being a vegetarian is a struggle. The Puerto Rican culture is very into their fast food chains, fried meats, and fish. Finding fresh produce is like finding a diamond in the rough. California has it GOOD (aka an endless array of fruits/veggies/GMO free/gluten free goodies), let me tell you.  It’s been quite the challenge to continue to eat healthy, but thankfully I’ve got some connections in the California who have hooked me up with some great care packages. Also, I’ve figured out that COSTCO has the best produce thus far.

FITNESS: In terms of fitness, I’ve begun to do more workouts at home, since I don’t have time to go to a gym with my work schedule. There is a CrossFit gym (aka someone’s house) up the street from me that I’d love to get involved in! But, the only bad part of that is timing with my work schedule :/

WEATHER: The weather here is nothing to whine about – it’s consistently been 80+ degrees and sunny everyday. The water is warm (75-79 degrees) everyday as well! My body is getting used to the humidity, which I can’t complain about either. Waking up every morning and knowing I never have to wear pants…is amazing.

FUTURE: I am very excited actually to put my own flair on the Ambassadors program. I’ve already been working with my boss on adjusting some programs and spicing up the decor. I love being able to have the freedom to speak up here- I am very lucky in that sense. Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Richard Murphy are both coming out in May this year to Puerto Rico to visit our Ambassadors of the Environment location. I cannot wait! I love having something to look forward to, and meeting these two influential and ocean heroes will be amazing. Adios!