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Guest Blog by Brina Vu

Being an intern at OC Coastkeeper has been such a huge opportunity for me, especially since I’ve lived in Orange County for my entire life.

It’s something of a comfort to know that no matter where I end up in the future, the Little Saigon welcome sign and Toyota of Orange jingle will always be reminders of my childhood and upbringing.

Now, starting my senior year of high school, I look back at a lot of moments that I realize have shaped me in more ways than I could have ever expected.

As it turns out, Coastkeeper is actually part of one of the biggest full-circle moments I have ever had.

My first experience with Coastkeeper was during Kids Ocean Day in 2016. I was only in fourth grade, but I can still remember how much I enjoyed participating. Even today, I have a vivid memory of sitting in the sun-warmed sand among a sea of my friends and other students.

Kids Ocean Day was the first time I had even been introduced to the concept of beach clean-ups, so it was something of a first glimpse into the importance of properly disposing of trash. From then on, as the years have passed, I’ve developed a habit of picking up any piece of litter that I notice.

Aerial art from Kids Ocean Day 2016

Much more recently, I took the AP Environmental Science (APES) course offered to juniors at my high school. For reference, I was the kind of student who gets excited at sunlight reflecting off of snow in a penguin documentary; I adored my APES class.

This class was also where I got the chance to be a student in Coastkeeper’s WHALES program (Watershed Heroes – Actions Linking Education to Stewardship), which I completely loved.

Being in WHALES was one of my favorite parts of my APES course; I was captivated by everything that I was learning, but above that, I could connect with what I learned about in class on a deeper, more personal level.

My love for both my AP Environmental Science class and the WHALES program inspired my growing interest in Coastkeeper, leading to my application to become an intern. While a part of the Coastkeeper communications team, I helped create informational graphics for advocacy campaigns and events.

I’m so glad that I had the chance to inspire others to connect with these causes in the same way that these programs had for me. My summer internship with Coastkeeper was a great experience, especially as I prepare to study creative writing and marketing once I get to college.