Our guest today on the Outdoor Adventure Series is Grace Bottitta-Williamson.
Grace is the National Recreation and Tourism Coordinator at the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), our nation’s system of underwater parks.
Grace is a former bird and wetland biologist and an avid, life-long bird watcher who particularly welcomes the chance to recruit more people into seeking out, studying, and sharing the feathered denizens of sanctuaries, who sometimes play second fiddle to more charismatic animals like seals and whales. According to Grace, “Many sanctuaries are along critical bird migration routes, so we’ve got songbirds, birds of prey, waterfowl, shorebirds, and seabirds who fly great distances to find food for hungry chicks back in the nest, all of them in sanctuaries, just waiting to be discovered,”
About the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
The National Marine Sanctuaries are celebrating 50 Years of ocean conservation and stewardship. The Office serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys and Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.
[Abridged] I’ve talked about how important community engagement is. I think we’re ready for the next level of like, how do we work more closely with communities together and collaboratively? The conversations are there, but how do we get there? How can they be ambassadors for us and vice versa? How can we come to a mutually beneficial, like this sanctuary is sacred to some degree? I don’t wanna put those words in it, but it’s a special place. Again, responsible recreation, responsible uses, sustainable tourism, but how can we do this collectively together so that where we’re benefiting the community, and then the community is also helping us with our mission, or our collective mission. It’s not even our mission; It’s our collective.
I think that’s the aha like, okay, this is, this is the focus for me for the next couple of years. It’s not just getting the word out about national sanctuaries in like places like Illinois or Indiana, where there is no ocean, but it’s also really like, okay, let’s focus more on the communities and the conversations in the communities that we’re not going in and saying, you must do this., it’s like, how can we do this together?
[Abridged] A friend of mine shared with me, and it really resonates with me because I’m really… I feel like, especially as a federal employee being authentic and present is, is just so important, especially. I’m very public facing.
I talk to a lot of folks. That’s my intention. Right? So it’s, I’m gonna just read real quick. It’s from our Deepest Fear by Maryanne Williamson, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
And for me, that’s authentic. Be present. Be passionate. I am very passionate about my job. I think it’s part of how we make a difference and how we make changes and live it.
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” by Marianne Williamson.
To plan your visit to the National Marine Sanctuaries, visit their website at https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/visit/.
Exploring the Florida Keys
Click here to learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation