Rachael Miller, her husband, James, and their two Newfoundland dogs visited remote Matinicus Island, off the coast of Maine, for a short vacation in October 2009. They were shocked by the amount of trash that had washed up onto the beach. Rachael spent the first day pulling it all up above the high-tide line. “You hate ocean trash,” James said. “Let’s do something about it.” So they did, by founding Rozalia Project, named for Rachael’s great-grandmother. The nonprofit group protects and cleans the ocean using technology, innovation, solutions-based research, and engaging STEM programs. They focus on urban and coastal waters, specializing in the remote islands and shorelines of the Gulf of Maine, and solving the problem of synthetic microfiber pollution.
“I don’t know how we could possibly expect to solve this problem without the reach that the Internet gives us.”
Rachael Miller, Founder & Executive Director
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“We had the Internet in mind from the beginning,” Rachael says. “Knowing that people could go online and get our story straightaway was important.” Rozalia Project soon began sharing their mission via short videos. “YouTube is a pretty spectacular tool for us because it’s so popular, so central, and so easy to integrate across other platforms,” Rachael says. YouTube’s analytics help them understand their video audience, while Google Analytics provides useful insight into their website visitors. The group also began using AdWords, Google’s advertising program, thanks to a grant from Google Ad Grants, which helps them connect with potential volunteers and donors. In addition, volunteers and staff use the Google Apps for Work suite of tools, including Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs.
Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean retrieved 130,000 pieces of trash in the summer of 2015.
Rozalia Project has grown steadily since its inception, thanks in large part to the Internet and technology. They now conduct summer expeditions on a 60-foot sailing research vessel, American Promise, with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to work on the sea floor. Numerous volunteers assist two year-round employees and a summer captain or two. The group cooperates with such partners as the University of Georgia and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track and retrieve ocean debris, and as many as 30,000 people enroll in their online education program. Rachael could scarcely have imagined it all while cleaning that lonely beach at Matinicus Island. “That’s what we want,” she says. “We want impact.”
For more information on the Rozalia Project case study, visit https://economicimpact.google.com.
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