For Georgia Tunioli ’13, her revelation about climate change came early, in 5th grade, when her teacher introduced the concept in an earth science class. “I felt surprised and a little scared that there wasn’t more happening,” she says.
Fast forward a decade or so and Tunioli, born in Connecticut but drawn to warmer climes, found herself majoring in environmental science at the University of Redlands.
Now an outreach programs assistant at The Bay Foundation in Santa Monica, Tunioli appreciates how Redlands gave her the opportunity to dive deep into the multi-faceted issues of environmental studies and offered her extracurricular learning opportunities. “From diving and exploring in Palau with Monty Hempel, field trips to the Salton Sea and sitting in on local public hearings with Tim Krantz, whale watching, visiting a Victorville dairy farm, planting trees in Big Bear, the list is long,” she says.
While at Redlands, Tunioli also took advantage of her close proximity to Esri, the world’s leading GIS company, attending a talk there by Captain Charles Moore on the enormous stretch of floating plastic debris now called the “Pacific garbage patch,” that she found profoundly affecting.
At The Bay Foundation, Tunioli assists with clean boating initiatives. With almost 200,000 registered boaters in Southern California, says Tunioli, “boating habits make a huge difference in the health of our bay.” The program targets a slew of pollutants—such as sewage, used oil, household hazardous waste, marine debris and aquatic invasive species—and takes action via pumpout monitoring, installing bilge pumpouts, creating educational materials and educating local boaters.
Tunioli also helps administer a Clean Bay Restaurant Certification program. The average restaurant, says Tunioli, throws away 150,000 pounds of garbage per year. The Clean Bay Certification Program recognizes restaurants that integrate sustainability and ocean mindedness into their business practice. More than 400 restaurants from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes have so far been certified.
The work is energizing, says Tunioli, because Los Angeles, as the second-largest city in the U.S., exerts such a strong influence on its environment. “More than 5,000 species of animals, fish, birds and plants make their home in the bay and in the bay watershed, so I feel it’s critical to have a group working to protect, restore and enhance this amazing environment.”