Mystic, Conn. <March 10, 2019>: The phrase “Bring it On” is an informal term with British origins used to convey confidence and excitement about facing a challenge. It could not be any more fitting that Mystic Aquarium volunteer and everyday conservationist Heather has the last name Bring.
Heather Bring of Westerly, RI, has taken on countless challenges in her life. She has faced them all with confidence, excitement and success. Fighting health issues, Heather has not let that stand in her way of making a large impact in the local community.
Heather has been a volunteer first responder and advocate for Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program since 2013. In the last few years, she has become the ‘face’ of the program’s outreach.
“Heather has been the driving force behind the Aquarium’s Seal Scoot public outreach program all year,” said Sarah Callan, Assistant Manager of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program. “She has connected with hundreds of people and has made a significant impact in the education of our community.”
On any given day, you can find Heather and her son Jack scouring beaches and cleaning litter. Even Heather’s service dog, Marea, gets in on the act.
Marea, who has her own Instagram page, @mareasavesthesea, was taught by Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) in Torrington, CT. She assists Heather, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a genetic illness effecting connective tissue disorders as well as Pseudotumor cerebri, a condition in which the pressure around the brain increases, causing headaches and vision problems.
Even after three brain surgeries and one on her spinal cord, Heather is a force of nature; of course, with Marea by her side. In addition to a host of daily activities, the golden retriever also helps pick-up trash; grabbing small items and disposing of them properly.
“If only beachgoers were as responsible as Marea,” said Director of Education and Conservation, MaryEllen Mateleska.
Marea is the first-ever canine first responder for Mystic’s Animal Rescue Program; joining Heather as she is often the initial response to a call to the Aquarium’s hotline. The dynamic duo helps determine the status of an animal and helps the Aquarium prepare for action when necessary.
“While it is important that we keep family pets away from marine mammals on the beach, the training that both Heather and Marea have makes them among the best to do the job of first responder,” added Callan.
But Heather and her family’s actions do not stop there. Collective action has become a family lifestyle.
At home they live by the three R’s of reduce, reuse and recycle. Jack even inspired a limit of single-use plastics in and by his school.
A Pinterest board with helpful hints has been set up on Mystic Aquarium’s page, where Heather will show how marine debris can be turned into great items like bracelets, dog leashes and more. They’ll even work to encourage other dog owners to join the important citizen science work in cleaning up our oceans with “Pawsome Acts of Conservation.”
“They truly walk-the-walk,” added Mateleska. “Heather, Jack and Marea are such an inspiration!”
Guests can meet Heather, Marea and Jack on Tuesday, March 26 as part of Mystic Aquarium’s Toddler Tuesdays programming during Story Time with Marea the Service Dog.
Mystic Aquarium looks forward to bringing its guests, friends and followers more about Heather, Marea and Jack and their accomplishments in their fight against plastic pollution and marine debris.
Heather simply says “bring it on!”
Adam Cilley | March 10th, 2019
Adam Cilley | March 8th, 2019