Friday, October 5, 2012

Many Hands Make Light Work

This summer, Rozalia Project learned that the people we work with make our organization as great as it is.  The interns that joined us this summer took our breath away with their perseverance, integrity, creativity, and professionalism.   In every location we visited, our partners commented on the high quality of the Rozalia Project interns.  We would not have been able to pick up over 40,000 pieces of debris (nor count or sort them) without the tireless efforts of our interns. 

Other than just their hard work, the interns made this summer fun, upbeat, and a truly memorable experience.  From dancing in immersion suits (viewable here: to jokes around the dinner table to squeals of excitement over interesting sea creatures, we were never short on laughs or good times. 

Happily, the interns felt the same.  Please read on to see what the interns had to say when reflecting upon their time with Rozalia Project this summer: 

“Entering the Rozalia Project late in the summer, I was both excited and anxious. I wondered if the crew would be intimidating, or the tasks overwhelming. I knew virtually nothing about sailing! Instead, I was warmly welcomed by the crew, and indeed, did jump right into work! My responsibilities, although new, were interesting and fun, and I never felt overwhelmed. After the first week in New York, I felt comfortable with caring for and driving the ROV and was ready to learn everything I could about sailing while on American Promise. Rachael, Rebecca and all the crew were so patient and helpful, I tackled sailing in no time! It’s an exhilarating experience, which I’m sure I will continue as a hobby. Another activity I’m sure I will never stop doing, is picking up debris! Just the other day, I found myself collecting a Styrofoam packing peanut off the ground and whispering under my breath: “Shipping material” as if another intern was beside me, keeping tally on a Rozalia Project data sheet. As an action/science intern, I feel that I walked away with skills that will allow me to reach my career goals, and experiences and friends that I will never forget. During our last day on American Promise, as we headed back to Kittery, Maine with no wind to sail, our spirits were lifted as we encountered a marine mammal extravaganza of a lifetime! We had Minke whales breach close enough to look us in the eye, and numerous dolphins and seals gliding past the boat just feet away from us. It was an amazing end to an equally amazing internship.”  – Sarah Kollar

“There is much about the Rozalia Project that defies characterization. It is tempting to call the work that I did for Rozalia an internship, but it was really a lot more than that. While I was on board the American Promise, I was learning, living, adjusting, and growing in ways that cannot be triggered by a simple internship. Similarly, it is tempting to describe Rozalia as a conservation group, but they are actually something more complex. I had the pleasure of being surrounded by new places, new people, new wildlife, and new ideas for the duration of my time with the project. I learned how to work and live in tight quarters with a group of people I barely know, I learned to look at the ocean and the world in a more critical way, and, perhaps most importantly, I realized the importance of safeguarding the world’s ocean. Thanks so much!” –Conor Grant

“Things I Learned With the Rozalia Project
·      Reprovisioning isn’t just a necessity, it’s a skill.  Feeding eight people, anticipating the week’s meals, making sure it will all fit in the reefer, AND that everyone’s Wheat Thins needs are met isn’t for the faint of heart.  That being said, no matter how often you’ve been, how much you’ve planned out your trip, or how quickly you need to be done, reprovisioning WILL take three hours, Sam’s Club WILL be overwhelming, and you WILL get at least seven bags of Veggie Sticks.
·      You have to be a jack-of-all-trades to start and run a non-profit. The number and range of challenges that Rachael and James, and consequently all the crew, face each day can, indeed, be daunting.  Today, the sump pump stopped working. Tomorrow we have to go to Staples and make six posters for a booth. Wednesday, you’re on dinner and have to walk the dogs. 
·      Networking is key.  The only way the Rozalia Project (or any non-profit, or any company, or any person) can grow and progress in the world is to network.  Even what seems to be an insignificant meeting could pan out to be something big.  And if it doesn’t, it’s always nice to have 10 more people in the world telling their friends about the Rozalia Project. 
·      Real science takes time and often doesn’t work.  Sometimes you have a great idea and get really excited about testing it and think it’s going to work as soon as you throw it in the water.  When the Basker took its first plunge, however, this clearly wasn’t the case.  Although it takes a while, the tweaking, testing, and perfecting can be extremely satisfying. You may even have to get hoisted along the spinnaker pole to make it happen.
·      There is trash in the ocean.  A lot. Most of it is small, hard to see by the casual passerby, and easily consumed by animals.  Even extremely remote locations such as Frenchboro, ME can have their pristine coastlines ruined by rusty traps, lobster bands made in Canada, and colorful bits of microfiber. 
·      Trash hunting is addicting.  What cleaning up trash lacks in glamour, it certainly makes up for in fun.  Amidst the scenery of the open ocean or the rocky beaches of Maine, who wouldn’t enjoy bending over and picking up other people’s litter?! Once you start you literally can’t stop (especially Kyle!). I was overcome with pride and respect for our team during the first day of the Frenchboro beach clean-up. Despite incessant rain the eight of us went to work without a single complaint.  We literally had to drag ourselves away from the beach, and THAT is awesome.
·      We can predict where high densities of trash will be and find it!  One of the more exciting discoveries during my month on the AP was that trash accumulates along “tide lines” where two bodies of water either from different currents or of different temperatures converged to form mats of sticks and seaweed.  Our first “tideline” tow collected 384 pieces of plastic!  The large lines we passed on the sail to Frenchboro had bottles, cans and buckets floating on them.  If we can find these convergence zones and tidelines, we can get even more garbage out of the ocean.
·      Red Solo Cups sink.  They may be great for parties, but these little devils shoot straight to the bottom.  It proves that everything we drop into the water, everything we lazily leave on the dock to get blown into the ocean, everything we throw on the ground to get swept out with the rain WILL sink.  While it may be out of sight, out of mind, it still poses problems for our aquatic friends.  Without the ROV, how would we know they were even there?!
·      There is hope for the world.  We can clean up the trash!  We can use plastics responsibly! We can recycle and properly dispose of our garbage! And the beauty of it all is that children understand this!  After watching groups of kids run enthusiastically between the ROV in the Fort Adams basin and the Rozalia Project tent on shore, gnarly-looking PVC pipe held triumphantly overhead, I believe that a change will happen.  These kids know that we cannot have trash in the ocean. They know the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.  They know that their individual actions will make a difference.  This is what can and will solve the world’s problems, and I am proud to have been a part of it.”  –Blais Hickey

“During my internship I managed to fall overboard while at a dock, destroy my phone, tell my mom the wrong day to pick me up and then drop her keys into the ocean!   It was by far the most enjoyable internship ever! From sailing for the first time, to waving at seals, to picking up trash on far away islands there was no experience quite like it.  Even though things may have not gone perfectly, I realized there’s nothing more valuable then packing up and trying something new.  All the crazy things that will happen along the way just might surprise you.”  –Andrew Randazzo

“So often we, being The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, are described as the people who pick up trash.  And yes, this is true; we pick up a lot of trash, but we also do so much more than that.  This summer, as part of the Rozalia Project team, I learned that cleaning the oceans begins with the removal of one piece of marine debris.   While this seems like a basic concept, if you really think about it if every person in the world picked up one piece of trash a day (either from land or the water – all trash on land will become trash in the water), the world would already have over 7 billion less pieces of garbage littering the surface daily.  If we each picked up more than one, imagine what we could do.  As a science/action intern I spent a large portion of my time working on data sheets, organizing what Rozalia Project and our partners pick up.  Analyzing these numbers made me realize how much we can really do about this issue.  There was one day where Marina and I spent about 2 hours cleaning 2 or 3 blocks in Providence, RI and with just the two of us in this short period of time, we collected close to 900 pieces of garbage.  Everyone knows that marine debris exists, but working with Rozalia Project taught me that awareness is not the only thing we need.  What we, as a population need, is the inspiration to pick up that wrapper or piece of paper and toss it in a garbage can or a recycling bin.  With Rozalia Project, I feel that not only do I now have the will to eliminate marine debris, but I feel that I have also inspired others to do the same.” –Laura Migliaccio

Thanks again for an amazing experience!!! I thought I would share some things I learned and journaled while on American Promise:

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you're learning something new, take advantage of the  
2. Keep a positive mindset and positivity will follow.
3. Remember the big picture. All small things and actions are 
    leading you there.
4. Be spontaneous even if it's scary.
5. Don't loose hope in mankind, inspire children.
6. There is no rush in life, you will reach your goals when  
    you're ready.
8. Don't be shy, there is no reason to be.
9. Everything happens for a reason.

Hope everyone got home safely and the next round of interns are ready for a once in a life time experience with amazing people! - Marina Maze

Some other anonymous quotes from our interns:

“This experience was significant for me in that I completely removed myself from every life comfort and familiarity. I put myself in a totally unfamiliar place and it made me step out of my shell. I became more confident and have realized I am not as shy as I used to be. It taught me to take every moment as an opportunity to learn something about myself and about life.”

“This internship was one of the best experiences I have had; it is extremely unique. I love that the second you arrive you jump right in with whatever project is happening in that moment. The bond that forms between everybody on the boat is so special and you really feel like an important part of something great.”

“I will continue to be active in my marine debris removal, just like the Rozalia Project is. I will also not be afraid to contact organizations that I am interested in and voice my opinion, or ask to get involved. After the internship, I feel more independent, flexible, spontaneous, creative and pro-active.”

“This internship helped to solidify my desire to pursue further education and a future career in oceanography. It was a great way to test the waters of this field of study. After spending time on American Promise, I am now also interested in doing vessel research.”

If you, or know someone who might be interested in an internship with Rozalia Project, please check the “join us” section on our website or e-mail

As always, make sure to “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @rozaliaproject, and check out our pictures on to see the excitement of Rozalia Project’s Fall Tour!

For a Clean Ocean,
Rebecca Inver Moffa
Director of Outreach


  1. Synergy (1+1=3). Thank You Rozalia volunteers, interns, for bringing applying your skills and hard work while maintaining a sense of humor and hope, and belief in the mission. Let's all pick up a piece every day. Eradicate litter.

    Bernie Paquette

  2. It was a heartfelt moment seeing people helping together.