the summer of 1992, I was bodysurfing in the Huntington Beach area when
I suffered a devastating injury: I crashed head first, into a sandbar
on the shore and shattered part of the vertebrae in my neck. This accident
left me a somewhat quadriplegic, unable to work. Initially, I felt very
helpless. My doctors believed that I would battle paralysis my whole
life. During this time, I was forced to re-evaluate my life and come
to terms with my situation. I began to look back at my life at everything
I had experienced. I remembered being involved with the Boy Scouts (Eagle
Scout, 1981) as a youth and how that was an important part of my life,
way back when. I remember backpacking with my dad in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains, and being shocked at how careless many people were with our
environment. I thought about these moments in my past, and became motivated
by them. Going back to work at my old job was not possible with my injury.
Some serious life decisions were before me.
decided to enroll at California State University, Long Beach, where
I studied Marine Biology. By this time, a lot of physical therapy (and
stubbornness) was slowly, but surely, leading me to a higher level of
recovery. I have found that school has been a very therapeutic endeavor
that has helped me through some emotionally and physically rough times.
The California Department of Rehabilitation paid for all college expenses
incurred during my undergraduate studies. I even became a certified
scuba diver. This new outlook on life felt good.
After graduating from California State University, Long Beach, I was
a full-time volunteer biologist at Southwest Fisheries Science Center,
NOAA, working on a National Science Foundation project with Dr. Osmund
Holm-Hansen, Dr. Russ Vetter, and Dr. Mark Westerman. Afterward, I attended
Texas A&M University, College Station, where I received a Master
of Science degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences. Here, I became
increasingly aware of many important environmental issues facing us
today. I gained a desire to be a part of the process that would ameliorate
the devastating pressures on critical habitats imposed by the footprints
we leave behind.
The challenges and successes of my life have shaped my beliefs
and values bringing me to a point where the direction of my future has
evolved into a strong desire to take a proactive role in grass-root
efforts to protect and preserve the environment. This led me to join
the U.S. Peace Corps. I was sent to Micronesia as a natural resource
volunteer. After pre-service training in Pohnpei, Federated States of
Micronesia, I was assign to the Republic of Palau. My first host agency
was the Palau International Coral Reef Center where I worked as an aquarist.
Beside my aquarist duties, I worked with other staff in developing posters,
presentations, a promotional folder and pamphlet, and flyers for the
sponsorship and adopt-a-tank programs. After a year, I transferred to
the Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection, under the Ministry of
Justice, where I am a conservation extension officer. Here, my primary
role was to train and assist DFWP counterparts to develop necessary
skills and knowledge to support the continued development of DFWP programs,
such as community outreach, education, GPS and GIS training, community
based coastal cleanups, and the Marine Environmental Enforcement Response
Team (MEERT). I developed the DFWP web site using digital photography
and Photoshop software. My two-year term in the Peace Corps was completed
on August 2004.
There is a race of men that don't fit in; A race that can't stand still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, and roam the world at will.
Robert Service, 1907
mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard
Henry David Thoreau.