How can a non-scientist make a difference?

I’m not a scientist by trade. Sure, I started out college as an astrophysics major…but I finished with a degree in psychology. Operations is my dream field – accounting, finance, HR, risk management – it all fills me with an almost childlike feeling of glee.

So what, you may ask, am I doing in a non-profit that focuses on coastal and estuarine health? The answer is simple – our mission needs us all. We can’t have the scientists without an HR department, because the scientists are people…and people need HR. We can’t manage the grants that are cleaning up debris and monitoring dolphins and building oyster reefs without someone versed in contracts and legalities. And we can’t keep power on to run the computers that do the research without someone to pay the rent.

I love what I do. Creating journal entries and analyzing spreadsheets make my day. But I sometimes wonder about my importance in our environmental world – how am I really making a difference in our water quality, coastal habitats, natural ecosystems, and living communities? I honestly don’t much about RSL (rising sea level), climate change effects, living shorelines, or blue carbon (although I am improving on that last one).

Before I start feeling useless, I remember we at RAE are a team. A team that depends on all of our assets and all our efforts to accomplish something together we could never do alone.

So even if you’re not a “true” scientist, know that you too can make an impact on our environmental world. Recycle, volunteer, educate, donate – we can all do our part. And I personally believe that relishing in the beauty of nature is a simple way to appreciate and engage with the very resource we are trying to protect. So get out, go bird watching, kayak a stream, or hike a trail. It all counts.

Ultimately we at RAE all work towards the same mission – we may each contribute in dramatically different ways – but we are all here to restore and conserve bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation. And even my spreadsheets have their purpose.

Nicole Breslin-Romano is the operations manager at Restore America’s Estuaries.