A youthful request

Prior to leaving Garris Landing via ferry for the auto tour on Bull Island during the fourth annual Bulls Bay Nature Festival, I had been alerted by the volunteer coordinator, Jennifer Heisler, about one of the participants I would be guiding. The girl, a pre-teen, had been talking with Jennifer about fiddler crabs observed in the marsh. It became clear that as the guide for the tour I would have a knowledgeable and inquisitive youth contingent in our group of two dozen.

Photo credit Jennifer Heisler

While several of the youth displayed a knowledge of natural history, and asked penetrating questions during Captain Will Christenson’s talk on the ride through the marsh, one stood out – ten year old Maggie Moran from Myrtle Beach. 

Our tour had two vehicles and trailers, and I trailer-hopped between stops to talk about multiple subjects including horseshoe crabs, invasive species, the maritime forest, the reason for the island’s multiple ridges, and of course Alligatorzilla. Alligator Alley did not disappoint – a 7-8 foot alligator was right next to the dike, allowing good viewing and photos. I planned for our first longer stop at the Boneyard. At some point Maggie politely made a request. Could the group at noon join hands along the beach, as many other people would be simultaneously on beaches along the coast – Hands Across the Sand – to advocate for no offshore drilling? I agreed that this activity would be a possibility. On reflection the request got my attention through the innocence, deep caring for nature, and unassuming manner of Maggie. Our group had become stretched out along the Boneyard, and as noon approached I gathered about half of our numbers so Maggie could make her appeal. A dozen joined hands, ages ranging from 80 to less than 8. 

Photo credit Samantha Chamberlain

A sign was displayed: “Protect the Earth”, a principle we all endorsed. It was a moment of symbolism and solidarity at this iconic coastal prominence.

On the return voyage Will continued his lively and informative discussion utilizing collected objects. A younger child took a vacated whelk casing to Will, who proceeded to pull open a casing with tiny whelks; Maggie displayed them in her hand for each ferry passenger to view. This young girl, with a consciousness far beyond her ten years, an appreciation of the natural world, and a commitment to the environment etched into her DNA, became an environmental educator for us all.

14 thoughts on “A youthful request

  1. There is so much to be learned from a natural sense of wonder. Seeing the world through the eyes of a youth can remind us.

  2. Good story Bob. Maybe one day Maggie will be leading tours on Bull island like you have been doing for so many years.

    • She might be, or a refuge biologist, scientist, or environmental lawyer. She and her peers hopefully will make it a brighter future.

  3. 🙂 Such occasions give those of us involved in the effort(s) to educate our young people about the significance of and appreciate our natural world a reason to keep on keepin’ on!!!! KEEEEP ON BOB!!! g

    • You bet, Ginny. And certainly educating our youth is a primary function of the Friends of Coastal South Carolina with our excellent environmental education program. We need an army of Maggies carrying the torch.

  4. It’s always inspiring to have young environmental stewards like Maggie on board. Their unwavering belief that they WILL cause positive change should be a lesson for us all. For those worried about the future just look to Maggie; she IS the future…and it’s in great hands.

    BTW-This is a testament not only to Maggie, but to Maggie’s parents as well, for although that spark of unwavering belief can certainly occur spontaneously, more often than not it’s planted by a parent…and like a germinating seed it needs to be nourished and watered if ever to bloom.

    • Thanks Will, especially for all you do to cultivate environmental stewards of all ages. Every time I’m along for the ride on Caretta (not enough) I see the impact you make.

    • Thank you Will! We have always tried to teach our children how important it is to take care of our earth. Since she was very young, Maggie has tried to be protect the environment and teach others to do the same. She amazes me every day. I could not be more proud of the person she is and is becoming!!

      Thank you for all that you do! Bob is right – you make quite an impact in the short amount of time people get to spend with you. Keep up the good work!

  5. What an incredible experience that must have been for you as a guide and for everyone on that trip! We have had similar experiences during a recent sea turtle release, a trip to Birds of Prey, and we really need to add a trip to the refuge to that list very soon! Thanks to all of the environmental stewards of all ages – and keep it coming!

    • We have many great individuals and organizations locally doing their part for the natural world. The experiences that Sully and Seabrook have had recently were unforgettable at turtle release and Birds of Prey. Much more to come…

  6. Bob, this is wonderful!! It’s people like you who are an inspiration to Maggie to become a protector of our earth and to have such a great appreciation for nature!! Thank you for all that you do and the knowledge that you have shared with us.

  7. Thank you so much for guiding us at Bulls Island and taking my request for Hands Across the Sand. I just read your article and it made me think of what an amazing experience I had at Bulls Island.

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