Nothing so far in 2020 has gone according to plan and summer programs in Boston and across the country have been forced to change and adapt due to COVID-19 pandemic.
One such program’s in Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Youth Environmental Education Programs.
While in a normal summer Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s programs serve more than 30,000 youth, teens and families on Boston Harbor, the waterfront, the region’s public beaches, and in the Boston Harbor Islands. However, COVID-19 pandemic has forced youth development and community organizations like Save the Harbor/Save the Bay have had to rethink their summer programs to prevent the social spread of the disease.
Save the Harbor summer staffers have rapidly adapted to a new way of learning and teaching. Youth Program Director Kristen Barry said three East Boston students are making the most of this unusual summer, working at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Youth Environmental Education.
Instead of helping Save the Harbor share Boston’s harbor with busloads and boatloads of young people face-to-face Eastie’s Albert Deblas, Claudia Hernandez and Madi Theriault are working to create virtual Boston Harbor programming through YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, and on Save the Harbor’s blog Sea, Sand & Sky.
In order to continue being the Boston Harbor connection for the region’s youth and families, Deblas, Hernandez, and Theriault are exploring Boston Harbor’s many beautiful views in small, socially-distant groups, including Charlestown Navy Yard, Castle Island, Malibu Beach, and the Harbor Islands. While there, they film videos, write lesson plans, and create other safe virtual activities for our community partners across the city.
While they’re still fishing, crabbing, and teaching local families about the marine environment like they would during any other summer —they are relying more on technology like video and drones. This is helping Save the Harbor/Save the Bay connect with local kids and families completely virtually while program capacities have been slashed for the summer.
“While this year may be completely different due to the ongoing pandemic, I am nonetheless excited to be part of this wonderful program once again,” says 19-year-old Deblas, who is working as a Junior Program Assistant this year. “Even though the program at Save the Harbor has shifted tremendously because of social distancing, the core values which we will implant this year have not changed.”
Deblas, a rising sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, is returning to Save the Harbor this summer for his second year.
“I’m a headstrong advocate for high biodiversity and protective practices of fishing, recreational, and economic use within the ocean,” said 28-year-old Hernandez, who is a graduate student at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. “I also concern myself with issues of environmental justice in water availability and quality of life.”
Deblas and Hernandez are joined by 17-year-old Theriault. Theriault is a rising senior at East Boston High School joining Save the Harbor for her second summer and is excited to continue to learn more about our Boston waters and the history of the harbor.
“This year’s staffers have exceeded expectations as enthusiastic educators and hard workers,” said Youth Program Director Kristen Barry. “Despite unusual and challenging circumstances, their dedication to share Boston Harbor with the public, this time virtually, has not wavered.”