When you think of an environmentalist you think of a geeky, nerdy, tie himself to a tree with a chain type of person right? No? Oh, maybe my point of view has been skewed by too much television.
I say this because this weekend I had the pleasure to meet Justin Riney, Founder and CEO of Mother Ocean and I have to say, he is not like that at all!! Aside from the fact that he is a total hottie (see below), he's also down to Earth and easy to talk to.
How did I get to meet such a guy?
Well, you see, he has embarked on a year long expedition around the coastlines and waterways of my home state of Florida....while paddle-boarding I might add!!! This journey is better known as Expedition Florida 500.
According to the Mother Ocean website, the purpose of this expedition is to "highlight the importance of stewardship efforts as they relate to the ocean, coastlines, waterways, and the marine ecosystem. Florida is unique in that it embodies the entire aquatic ecosystem from source to sea – one of the few places on Earth with such a vast array of thriving wildlife and a natural environment based around water. The team will document their journey through daily blogging, daily photos and videos for social media outlets, filming for their own documentary, and filming for Tahoe SUP’s EXPLORE project series."
Still, how did I get to meet him? Well, one of his stops was here in Key West!!
A new and dear friend of mine, Ruth, sponsored his time here in Key West to go along with Earth Day and raise awareness for Expedition Florida 500 and the much needed conservation efforts as well. Thanks for this Ruth!!
Justin paddled to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park from Lazy Dog Key West, and managed to fit in an Ocean Hour Coastal Clean-Up before heading out.
He is passionate about what he is doing and why he is doing it but he isn't pushy about it.
I didn't get to take a picture with him, wish I did. My phone was acting up for some reason and the poor guy was tired from such a long trek that I wasn't going to be pushy...but I did get a hug!! He even asked about me and where I was from, my kids, etc. Yeah, he couldn't believe it either how many kids I have.
Okay, back on topic here....
Justin is an amazing man and the rest of the Expedition Florida 500 team are doing great things. I wish more people knew about it and how important protecting our oceans, waterways, and coastlines is.
I grew up on these waters. They are my second home. I love to swim, boat, fish, and now even snorkel but if we do not take care of how we treat them, they are not going to be here to enjoy. Future generations will not be able to see the beauty that we see now.
This was evident when I went fishing with Mr. Big yesterday, there was trash everywhere! We went into the mangroves and rocks and I was amazed. How could people treat the waters and lands this way? If we keep it up, there will be no place to enjoy the wildlife and water sports because there will be nothing left.
So please, take a moment to learn more about Expedition Florida 500, Mother Ocean (links below), and the wonderful work that Justin and his team are doing to save our waters!!
Mother Ocean Official Website
Expedition Florida 500 Facebook Page
Also, please remember...take your trash with you and dispose of it properly...let the lands and water be there for our children and grand children.
Justin, thank you for taking such a large time out of your life to raise awareness and make a difference!!