NCLC Marine Program Coordinator Angela Whitlock helps lead a tide pool training at Haystack Rock.
The Marine Reserve Program of North Coast Land Conservancy is preparing for the upcoming season of the Tidepool Ambassador Program (TAP) at Short Sand Beach, adjacent to Cape Falcon Marine Reserve.
Between June and September, TAP volunteers will be at the tide pools for weekend shifts surrounding the lowest tides of the season. These are typically the busiest days with the heaviest use.
During their shift, volunteers connect with beach-goers and share information about proper tide pool etiquette and the rich biodiversity within these sensitive ecosystems.
To kick off the season, NCLC held a training with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) in Cannon Beach on Saturday, May 20. The organization also contracted with two individuals to assume the seasonal roles of TAP Coordinator and TAP Guide; they will oversee the program during Summer 2023.
Meet these new team members!
TAP Coordinator: Jolene Magee
Originally from Michigan, with stints at other regions across the United States, Jolene moved to Astoria in 2022. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but during the pandemic, she decided to go back to school to study wildlife conservation with American Public University. Jolene is now one class away from achieving a second degree in environmental science and wildlife management.
“I’ve been learning so much about the species you can find in the tide pools and the general health of our oceans and our coast,” she says, adding she views it as a privilege to go out on the beach for work. “I have such amazing interactions with people every day. It’s a dream. I love it.”
Some of her favorite tide pool creatures are anemones. “They’re such predators but so peaceful,” she explains. “They’re so weird and so pretty.”
She looks forward to continuing her job with HRAP while serving as the TAP Coordinator for NCLC, adding that both organizations are working toward the same goals of conservation, wildlife protection, and community education.
“There are a lot of people visiting this area for the first time, so obviously they’re not going to know how to treat it,” Jolene says. “It’s really, really fun to let these people experience this environment for the first time and teach them all the cool things about it. … Having those interactions face to face and showing them first-hand what we’re trying to protect, that’s a huge step in trying to conserve our resources and our wildlife. I really don’t think there can be too much of that.”
As someone who’s traveled and lived in various places, she can relate to that experience. She’s been introduced to numerous areas within the continental U.S. that are both special and vulnerable.
“My interest just started growing and growing. It’s hard to become an expert in one particular ecosystem,” she says. Even volunteering for the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria “has given me such a huge appreciation for creatures I didn’t think would interest me at all.”
She enjoys sharing ecological knowledge and passion for the Oregon Coast and its wildlife with others.
“Just reaching one person makes it all worth it,” she says, adding it’s especially special to connect with young people at the tide pools. “They’re going to be who is leading us tomorrow. Being able to instill that in one person makes a bigger difference than we can ever imagine.”
TAP Guide: Jet Ideue
Although born in Washington, Jet moved to the Oregon North Coast in kindergarten and considers it her home. She grew up less than a mile from Del Rey Beach and attended Seaside High School before heading to the University of Oregon to pursue a bachelor’s degree in environmental sociology. Her focus and passions, she says, surround working with marginalized communities.
“That was probably the most rewarding and passionate I’ve been about my job and career,” she says.
Additionally, Jet worked as an indigenous educator for the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene.
She carries a strong passion for both language preservation and environmental conservation, and believes they “intersect completely,” adding that socio-environmental disruption can threaten both.
Since graduating in 2022, she is taking time to gain hands-on experience in the field, with the hopes of joining The Peace Corps and going abroad next year as a community environmental conservation promoter in Panama.
In the meantime, Jet’s been seeking ways to get involved with environmental conservation locally.
“Growing up here and being little, I’ve always been interested in the ocean and the critters. … Being able to be back, and with a different environmental perspective and lens, it makes me that much more grateful to live here,” she says, adding it inspires her to join efforts aimed at promoting awareness and educating individuals in an engaging and interesting way. TAP is a venue for doing just that.
“It’s important to care about your community and your environment,” she says. “It’s our human responsibility to the Earth to protect it, to preserve it, and keep it clean. And I think that’s what TAP is doing by providing a great hands-on experience.”
She describes herself as a “naturally curious” person who loves sharing information with people and getting new information back. “It’s that swap of knowledge that I love.”
(The 2023 Tidepool Ambassador Program is supported, in part, by a grant funded by Transient Lodging Tax dollars through Tillamook Coast Visitors Association.)