Manager of Internal Communications, SAP Procurement Solution Area
At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.
You make a living by what you do but you make a life by what you give.
Jennifer Zarcone, Manager of Internal Communications, SAP Procurement Solution Area
There have been drastic environmental changes over the past few decades. Consider this: a 2015 study found vertebrate species have been disappearing at about 100 times the normal rate over the last century alone, and many biologists believe half of earth’s species will be extinct by 2050.
Jennifer Zarcone, a Manager of Internal Communications for SAP Procurement Solution Area, shares how she started a non-profit for coastal wildlife education, research, and preservation in her free time. She knows that we need a collective conscious effort to help preserve our coasts and their ecosystem. She understands the difficult challenges coastal wildlife faces well and has channeled her desire to give back and preserve coastal wildlife by starting Save Coastal Wildlife (SCW).
From an early age, Jennifer loved wildlife and the coast having grown up by the beach on Long Island, NY. Seven years ago, she moved to the New Jersey shore and bought her first home there. Almost immediately afterwards, Hurricane Sandy tore through the state and left almost eight million people without power, sent New York and New Jersey among other states into a state of emergency, and forced the NYSE to remain closed for several consecutive days due to weather for the first time since 1888. After a storm like that, Jennifer says, “You are very aware of the power of the ocean and the vulnerability of the coastal region.”
Long before Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer had made volunteering an integral part of her life. She says she firmly believes in the saying, “You make a living by what you do but you make a life by what you give.” After her experiences growing up by the coast and her recent experiences with Sandy, it became clear to her that volunteering for the health of the coastline would be a fantastic fit for Jen - a natural way for her to give back even more.
Jen originally moved to the Jersey shore with the dream of becoming an oyster farmer and got her shellfish husbandry certification. She found some organizations in her area that did oyster restoration research and started connecting. Around that time in 2015, Jen saw a Facebook post from Joe Reynolds, the chair of the Bayshore Watershed Council, who was looking for a seining partner for the Council’s annual Seine the Bay day event. After reaching out to him and spending the day going up and down the Raritan Bay seining, they became fast friends and Jen agreed to join him for horseshoe crab monitoring and started going to council meetings.
Jen and a core group from the council decided they would start a nonprofit organization so they could do more and formed the board of directors for SCW last March. They saw a need for a non-profit that could, as she puts it, “Speak for the actual wildlife and educate people along the coast about how to fish with respect and gratitude for the environment.”
There is a need for research and education regarding the coastline because as Jennifer points out, “For thousands of years people have fished to eat, but there is a balance that’s needed. We have tipped the scale in the wrong direction and this is affecting the wildlife, the entire ecosystem, our waterways, and all of us”. Horseshoe crabs provide a shocking example of the situation, thanks to research by SCW. Eel fisherman use the crabs as bait, and since females are fattier, larger animals, the fishermen target them excessively. As one of the oldest animals on the planet—traced back through the geologic record to around 445 million years ago, 200 million years before dinosaurs existed—stark changes in the horseshoe crab populations will undoubtedly have consequences on the other organisms that have grown dependent on the crabs and their eggs over the past millions of years.
Jennifer notices these stark changes and said, “On a single night we’ll pull hundreds of horseshoes crabs out of the water and there will be one female for every 50 males.” Although she notices the negative environmental changes and uses it as motivation for her non-profit’s initiatives, she also takes time to enjoy her experiences and draw inspiration from the beauty of the nature around her. Jen mentions, “When you live inside a laptop, being able to unplug and pluck something right out of the water and say, ‘Look at this!’ is incredibly satisfying. It’s so important to be in touch with wildlife.
”When asked about how SAP measures up as far as enabling and supporting her, Jennifer feels extraordinarily fortunate. “At another company, I might not feel comfortable starting a non-profit because they might view it as distracting me from my work, but at SAP I definitely felt empowered and supported to volunteer and start SCW. Knowing it’s something I can openly do is awesome, because SAP knows it makes me a happier and more productive employee,” she says.
When you have a passion for volunteering, the positive side effects are numerous as Jennifer finds her work with SCW and SAP benefit from each other. The communications lead says that after plucking horseshoe crabs out of the bay, “I come back to work refreshed knowing I have a full life-giving back to something I’m passionate about. It gives me a better perspective every day.” Since she is also the only communications-oriented person on her non-profit team, she draws on her SAP experience when writing grants, press releases, and social media content for SCW as their communications lead and secretary.
With over a year under their belt, SCW and Jennifer are committed to continuing their interesting and impactful education and research on coastal wildlife. So if you ever look out onto the New York Harbor or Jersey Shore under a full moon, see someone plucking horseshoe crabs out of the water, and tagging them while they are trying to mate (which they don’t always appreciate), relax. It’s just Jennifer saving our coasts and having a blast, one horseshoe crab at a time.
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