This Rochester teen biked 35 miles for clean water last year. Now she’s getting her whole school involved.
When Emma Keeler, 16, successfully biked 35 miles from Rochester to Woods Hole at last year’s Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride, she vowed she would return in 2017 – and this time, she promised to bring some friends along.
2016 wasn’t the first time Emma had ever participated in the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s annual Watershed Ride. Ever since she was 5 years old, Emma has cheered on her parents, Russ and Wendy, every year as they’ve cycled the 35-mile route from their hometown in Rochester to the finish line in Woods Hole. But last year, Emma decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps and finally hit the road herself.
As a rider, Emma felt moved by the event’s camaraderie, team spirit, and generous fundraising. “It’s a really special environment to have all these people…who are so devoted to the health of the Bay. I find that sort of selflessness very inspiring, especially when there is such a large group of people demonstrating it.”
For her second Watershed Ride this year, Emma is planning to give the event another boost by forming a team with friends from her school, Falmouth Academy. And she’s been working hard to share the importance of the Watershed Ride and the Coalition’s clean water mission with the school community.
At Falmouth Academy, Emma has found enthusiastic support for her participation in the Watershed Ride. The school’s middle- and high school-aged students care deeply about doing their part for a healthy Buzzards Bay. At the annual science fair, many student projects are focused on water pollution issues facing Cape Cod’s coastal waters.
Emma credits her “scientifically motivated” student body with the school’s connections to world-class scientific institutions like the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Marine Biological Laboratory. She herself has had the opportunity to study issues like ocean acidification at WHOI, which has made her even more passionate about the environmental effects that humans have on the marine environment. “It’s natural for me to want to help the ocean that I study so much in a laboratory, in a real-life scenario,” she said.
Not only is Emma bringing more people to the Watershed Ride this year, but she’s also aiming higher with her fundraising goal. Last year, Emma raised over $2,300 from family, friends, and the Falmouth Academy community. She garnered support for her Watershed Ride by speaking at an all-school meeting and sharing how people could donate.
“The type of people who take the time to bike in the [Watershed] Ride are the best people to surround yourself with,” Emma said. “The Bay has given us so much, whether it be a place to swim, paddleboard, or kayak — it even provides us with fish to fish for. It’s important to give back.”