At Coral Restoration Foundation™ we LOVE our volunteers! Their work spans every facet of our organization, from helping to build Coral Trees™ to outplanting with the team. Each month we feature volunteers as a way to highlight their dedication to ocean conservation and commitment to CRF™. This month we turn the spotlight on JD Reinbott! We follow JD and congratulate him on his journey through CRF™... and beyond!
"Growing up I was always obsessed with the ocean. The running joke with the family is that if a trip wasn't close to the beach or didn't have an aquarium that I could visit, I didn't want to go and would make it extremely well-known. I always thought corals were cool but never really took the time to appreciate them. In fact, it wasn't until a travel course to Belize that focused on coral biology during my junior year of college where I actually realized how truly fascinating these tiny little animals are and the numerous roles they place for both us as human beings as well as the countless marine animals we all love so much. Everyone was excited to swim with sharks, rays, and turtles while I was too busy focusing on getting up close and personal with every single polyp that called the waters of Ambergris Caye their home. As tacky as it sounds, every time I dive and get to see healthy coral in its natural habitat I get this feeling of pure happiness, almost like I'm a kid again walking into an aquarium and falling in love with the ocean for the very first time. I really want to make sure everyone has the chance to experience that too."
- JD Reinbott
How long have you been volunteering with CRF?
I actually just recently started volunteering in early September of this year but was an intern with CRF from September of 2018 to August of 2019.
What is/was your profession?
During my time with CRF, I worked my way up to become the Dive Program Intern and worked alongside Roxane Boonstra to help run pretty much any and all of the Dive Programs that went out over the summer (in total we had 52 different programs spanning across 56 days so you could say we were a little busy). In terms of current employment, I am set to move to Quepos, Costa Rica in November to start my job as a Marine Instructor and Assistant Coral Manager with Marine Conservation Costa Rica! I'm going to be receiving my PADI Instructor, teaching a bunch of ocean conservation specialties and helping them jump-start and further develop their coral restoration program. I'm extremely excited to be bringing everything I have learned during my time with CRF to this brand new nonprofit organization and continuing to spread awareness about the importance of conserving these truly unique ecosystems. But I will say that I most definitely need to brush up on my Pacific coral species identification as well as my Spanish.
Why do you volunteer with CRF?
Before CRF, I had the chance to do some coral conservation work down in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. It was really my first time ever looking at coral outside of the whole "I'm on a snorkel trip and want some pretty pictures to share with my friends online" realm. We would throw all of our gear on and spend hours underwater collecting different metrics on coral population abundance, bleaching, predation, disease, etc. and to be honest the reefs weren't so bad. Some bleaching here and there but overall it looked extremely healthy and there were colonies of staghorn, elkhorn, pillar coral as far as the eye could see. Soon after, I traveled to Florida to do some checkout dives for another certification and was beyond excited to see more vibrant reefs filled with life, but when I jumped in I just saw this coral graveyard. I really didn't know the state of our reefs and that daunting sight not only made me want to cry but also inspired me to do something. I happened to hear about CRF through a search online, and that's what brought me down here. Getting to do something first-hand that actively makes a difference, whether it's presenting to a school group or outplanting 100 corals, gives me hope that we can help shape the future of our reefs for the better. So once my internship came to a close everyone at CRF knew they weren't going to get rid of me easily, and while I am extremely sad to be moving away from this amazing organization and the people that work for it, I have a feeling that they will be seeing me again soon ready to clean some more trees and mix some more epoxy!
If you could be a sea creature, which would you be?
For anyone who knows me, this answer is a given. 110% an octopus. They are literally the strangest creatures that I have ever seen underwater and yet also the most unique and eye-catching (that is if you are lucky enough to spot them). Every single time I see one underwater, I freeze and will only continue to swim when my dive buddy comes over and grabs me (ask Roxane if you don't believe me). I would honestly just love to see what happens on a daily basis, but also they HAVE EIGHT ARMS. LIKE COME ON HOW COOL IS THAT YOU COULD EAT AN ENTIRE PIZZA AT ONCE.