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Monday, April 22, 2013

[Earth Day Edition] pop-we Highlights Greater Omaha SCUBA Club's Project AWARE Efforts

Lake cleanup at Louisville State Park swimming lake.
Today, April 22, is officially Earth Day 2013! On this day people from all around the world are celebrating on land and under the sea. Since waters in Nebraska are a chilly 42 degrees members of the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club will be there only in spirit. This post is dedicated to those SCUBA divers who are donating their time today and throughout the year to clean up our waterways from debris.

Below is a Q&A with SCUBA Instructor Mark "Skippy" Sidwell who is vice president of the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club.

Q. What got you into SCUBA diving?
A. A 21 day trip to Australia. I figured, if I'm going half way around the world, I'm going to learn to dive.

Q. What is the coldest conditions you've dove in?
A. 58 degrees in Atlantic, Iowa. Did a check out dive with a student late in the season. They were going on vacation in early November and wanted to get it done before hand.

Q. Tell us about the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club?
A. The club was officially started in 2007; so its been around for approximately six years. We are not technically a non-profit organization but we are a not-for-profit organization. We are not tax deductible, if you donate to us. The whole goal of the club is to get people active in diving; whether, you're a diver or non diver, we want you active in diving. Even if you're a non diver we want you active in the aquatic world. Be it just enjoying the aquatic world; conservation efforts and understanding how the ocean plays a role in our world, that is the basic gist the club is for.

Q. What reaction do you get when you tell someone you belong to a dive club in Omaha, Nebraska?
A. What? That is the reaction. Most people are basically confused because they ask where is there to dive in Omaha, Nebraska? Technically speaking there are not a lot of places to dive in Omaha, Nebraska. But there are a lot of places to dive in the local area within one- to three- hours drive.

World O! Water debris.
Q. What is Project AWARE?
A. Project AWARE is an organization started by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). Aquatic water awareness responsibility and education is key. The basic goal is to teach people the role of what water is; not just about water itself but the ecosystem within the water. Because without the oceans we can't feed half of the world. We abuse water resources beyond their capacity to handle it. That is one of the main reasons why Project AWARE came about because the water resources we have on this planet are dwindling. The vast majority of the world does not have access to clean fresh water for drinking, which is terrible. Project AWARE also talks about natural water resources: lakes, rivers and oceans. How to keep them clean and how to maintain them, as well as how to use them responsibly.

Q. Why did you get involved with Project AWARE?
A.  Because without conservation and education of water resources, I won't have anywhere to dive.

Q. Doing lake cleanups what is the strangest item you've found?
A. A Mountain Dew banner. It was a huge promotional banner. I thought it was a tent at first!

Q. What is the strangest thing another club member has found?
A. A safe.

Q. What is the worst visibility conditions you've dove in for a lake cleanup?
A. Zero.

Q. What do you think is the biggest culprit of trash in our waterways?
A. Plastic. The problem is most governments don't require manufacturers to put a recycle label (i.e. the type of plastic) on all plastic items. Most plastic items you have no idea that type of plastic it is. Most people don't recycle anyway.

Q. What's the message the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club wants to relay to kids?
A. Whatever you throw out winds up in the water. So, be very, very cognizant of what you throw away. Even if you throw it away responsibly; doesn't mean that whoever picks that trash up is going to be responsible with it. So, you have to be careful with that, and that is why recycling is such a big thing.

To find out more about the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club or any upcoming lake cleanups, visit the club's website, official Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

"I think diving has made me much more aware why we need to recycle," he said. Since 2009, Sidwell has participated in 12 lake cleanups in Nebraska. He ended the Q&A interview by saying: "I love the opportunity to talk about my passion [SCUBA diving]! I love the planet -- we only got one -- so we got to take care of it."

Editor's note: In celebration of the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day population-we™ staffers will celebrate our love for planet earth with green posts this month!  

- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2013 population-we, LLC
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