Danielle Perry: A South Coast Center Powerhouse Volunteer

Danielle Perry: A South Coast Center Powerhouse Volunteer

by Mia Chiapone, communications intern

Two years ago, Save The Bay gained an energetic, determined volunteer in Danielle Perry, who works with children and does research at Save The Bay’s South Coast Center in Westerly. The South Coast Center is a small, interactive aquarium where visitors can learn about the diverse habitats and animals of the region and Save The Bay’s work in Rhode Island’s salt ponds and southern coast. Danielle wanted to be involved in the local community and learn more about conservation and restoration firsthand. “Save The Bay seemed like a great opportunity to accomplish my goals and expand my experience in environmental management and community engagement,” she said.

Volunteer Danielle Perry shows young visitors critters in the touch tank at the South Coast Center in Westerly.

The South Coast Center is a cozy storefront inside the old McCormick’s department store building on Westerly’s Broad Street. Danielle shows visitors the interactive touch tank, describes the south coast watershed map and reads stories for children in the kids’ story time area. She exudes enthusiasm and passion as she meets the visiting children and adults and educates them about Rhode Island’s southern coast.

“My favorite part is interacting with the children, whether it is helping them make a marine craft or showing them animals in the touch tank. It’s nice knowing you helped put a smile on a child’s face.”

Determined to help make a positive environmental change, Danielle also enjoys getting her hands dirty with other volunteers on many habitat restoration projects. “It is nice working with people on a common goal and accomplishing something important together,” said Danielle, who has participated in salt marsh restoration monitoring and planting as well as water quality restoration in the coastal waters of Narragansett Bay.

“Danielle has been a great help with water quality testing,” Dave Prescott, Save The Bay’s South County Coastkeeper said. “She plays a vital role in both the education and research departments and continues to be a real leader here at the South Coast Center.”

During her restoration work with Save The Bay, Danielle has learned so much about the issues salt marshes are facing that she’s developed her graduate research around the topic. “Save The Bay has become a large part of my Rhode Island and graduate school experience, and the individuals working there have been very influential in this journey,” she said.

With a special place in her heart for Narragansett Bay, Danielle wants to see the Bay thrive and witness restored habitats and improved water quality. “Saving the Bay has important implications that go beyond Rhode Island and New England. The strategies used within the Narragansett Bay watershed could be implemented in other systems across the country. Saving the Bay could lead to saving other estuaries in the country,” she said.

Visit Save The Bay’s South Coast Center at 12 Broad Street, Westerly, RI from 10 a.m to 3 p.m every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

*Please note:  Be sure to access the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus through the main entrance on Harborside Blvd. Your GPS may suggest taking Ernest Street to JWU’s Shipyard Street entrance, but that route requires a key card for entry.  

From Route I-95 North or South, take Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue). Head downhill on Thurbers Avenue to US Route 1A (Allens Avenue). Turn right onto Allens Ave. Continue southbound on Allens Ave. into Cranston, where Allens Ave. becomes Narragansett Blvd. Turn left onto Harborside Blvd. at the traffic light by the Shell gas station. Follow Harborside Blvd. through the Johnson & Wales Harborside Campus. At the end of Harborside Blvd., turn right onto Save The Bay Drive. Save The Bay Drive becomes a circular, one-way roadway as you approach the Bay Center. Parking is available in four guest lots after you pass the main building. Enter the building through the main entrance.