Greta Molek ‘20 first heard about the organization through her dad. Her dad’s employer works with the organization to clean the beaches four times a year. Molek was then inspired to get involved in preserving the environment by becoming an ambassador for the organization.
“I wanted to be an ambassador because I love our Great Lakes,” Molek said. “I wanted to do everything I can to give back. The second my dad told me about it a number of weeks ago, I was obsessed and really wanted to get involved.”
On April 13, Molek went to the Alliance’s Chicago Office on Michigan Avenue to become an ambassador and get trained, she said. She went to their office along with others from ages 17 to 30. As an ambassador, Molek tables events, gives presentations on the Great Lakes and spreads the word about the organization.
The Chicago Tribune reported on March 15 that the Trump administration is looking to cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The administration is proposing a 90% cut from a $300 million normally budget. Due to this proposed budget cut, many advocates are looking to help the Great Lakes environment such as Molek.
The Alliance for Great Lakes was originally founded in 1970, and is the oldest independent organization that is working to solely protect the Great Lakes, Education Manager for Alliance for the Great Lakes Katie Larson said. The Alliance for the Great Lakes works to protect the Great Lakes for today and tomorrow, involving tens of thousands of people each year in advocacy, volunteering, education, and research to ensure the lakes are healthy and safe for all. Currently, they have about 15,000 volunteers which includes more than 100 ambassadors.
“I have been at the Alliance for the Great Lakes for almost 10 years, and the work that the Alliance does impacts me personally as it impacts the people who live around the Great Lakes region,” Larson said. “I have been lucky to connect educators, youth and other volunteers to their communities through real-world, hands-on experiences and learning.”
People who are interested in saving the Great Lakes are able to get involved through their Adopt-a-Beach events, Alliance Ambassadors or Young Professional Council or by supporting or becoming involved in their work. For Adopt-a-Beach events, people are able to sign up for a specific beach to pick-up and tally litter that is found on the shorelines. The data for the litter is then entered into the Alliance for Great Lakes website afterwards. The next Adopt-a-Beach event in Chicago is the Spring Kick-off that is happening April 29.
“The moment I became an ambassador, I felt great learning and educating others,” Molek said. “The Great Lakes is my passion and has been since I left training. I plan on continuing on with this program as long as I can. My goal is make some sort of environmental club before I graduate.”
To learn more about the organization and Great Lakes, visit the Alliance for Great Lakes website.