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Interview with BTT Youth Ambassador Shelby Berger

Shelby joined BTT as the second Youth Ambassador in 2018

When did you start fishing? 

I started fishing when I was around two years old on a river next to our old mountain house in West Virginia. My dad has been my fishing partner since day one. He’s taught me almost everything I know and continues to encourage me to practice fly casting, especially my double haul. 

How has fishing impacted your life? 

My dad always likes to say “fish live in beautiful places,” and it’s true. Fishing has brought me to some of the most gorgeous places on the planet, including Honduras, New Zealand, Alaska and Belize. Not only has fishing brought me to beautiful places, but it has brought me to some of the most amazing and inspirational people. This past summer I went to Guanaja, Honduras, where I met some of the most incredible lady anglers. Fishing has also taught me valuable life lessons. It has taught me to never give up and to continue fighting, as well as how to be calm and patient, and how to live in the moment.

Where is your favorite place to fish?

My favorite place to fish is definitely Alaska. Flying into the middle of nowhere Alaska, I caught hundreds of trout and salmon as well as an almost world record breaking king salmon. The gorgeous scenery and bears only added to the amazing experience. A close second would be the Florida Keys.

What other marine activities do you participate in?

I am an avid scuba diver! I have my advanced open water certification and am hoping to get my masters when I turn eighteen. I love seeing fish in their natural habitats as well as on the end of my line. 

You’re in high school now. What do you think you may study in college?

I am very interested in studying engineering in college because I love science, math and problem solving. I believe I want to do environmental or civil engineering (or both!) because that way I can help make everyday buildings, roads, etc. more environmentally friendly, sustainable and reliable. 

Have you seen evidence of the human impact on the oceans?

Yes, I have, and what I have seen is quite sad. I’ve seen coral reefs go from healthy to completely bleached in only a few years. I have found so many different kinds of trash on the beach and in the ocean, and not to mention the buckets and buckets of microplastics and glass I have collected. Here are some pictures of different items I found while picking up trash on the beach on Pigeon Key after only about thirty minutes:

Photos: Shelby Berger

 

When did you become interested in the health of the oceans?

I had been hearing about the effects of climate change and global warming on our oceans, but didn’t care about it too much until I saw the dying coral for myself. As I did more and more research I found that it affects much more than just coral, and that we as humans need to change our ways quickly if we want our oceans to survive another hundred years.

If you had unlimited funds to start an ocean-related project, what would you do?

I would do anything it takes to get rid of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is now almost three times the size of Texas. I personally do not yet know what the best way to get rid of all the trash is, but what I do know is that it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

How do you try to #kickplastic in your everyday life?

I use reusable water bottles and I always recycle when possible. I also help educate others on the effects plastics have on our oceans, and how they can help decrease their plastic consumption too.