Monmouth University students Mia Njad and Evan Rankl are forming a Monmouth chapter of Love Blue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting oceans through community outreach and beach cleanups. The group, which is currently in the process of obtaining club recognition by the University, has begun its work of planning student-led beach sweeps along the Jersey Shore. Its next will be held at 11 a.m. on April 24 at Seven Presidents Park’s beach in Long Branch.
We caught up with Njad and Rankl, the chapter’s president and vice-president, to learn more about Love Blue and their plans for the group on campus. To get in touch or for more information, visit the Love Blue Monmouth Chapter on Instagram at @lovebluemonmouth.
Student name, year and major:
- Mia Najd, junior, marine and environmental biology and policy major
- Evan Rankl, junior, finance and real estate major
Q: What drew you to get involved with Love Blue and organize a chapter here at Monmouth?
Our first knowledge of Love Blue was in the fall 2021 semester, when Nick Olson with Love Blue Stockton came up and coordinated a cleanup with two Monmouth clubs. That day, hearing them talk about what an exploding organization Love Blue is and getting to be a part of such a special movement was an eye-opening experience. Immediately we felt like there was no reason for Monmouth to not have our own Love Blue. Being a mile from the beach, tons of Monmouth students utilize the area, which makes it our responsibility to keep it clean and beautiful. It’s a great group of people with great potential and an even greater cause!
Q: What are your hopes for the Monmouth chapter of Love Blue? What types of activities do you expect to offer or be involved in?
Our hopes are to continue to grow our presence throughout the school and make a big impact in the amount of trash that Love Blue has taken off our beaches. The most important activity that we aim to offer are regularly scheduled beach cleanups with various campus groups. We are excited to work closely with the Urban Coast Institute and all of the resources that Monmouth has to offer. Love Blue is a certified (501 c3) nonprofit organization, so we also hope to hold some fun and creative fundraisers as well as get community businesses involved through our Seal of Support. Students can also get excited about leadership opportunities!
Q: Are you seeking members or volunteers? How can others get involved?
Absolutely! We encourage as many people to come out as possible. If you are a Monmouth student looking to become a member, give @lovebluemonmouth a follow on Instagram to stay up to date on the next meeting or cleanup. If you want to be more involved with Love Blue Inc. as a whole volunteers, you can check out www.loveblueinc.org to see all of the locations that you can get involved at as well as ways to donate!
Q: What is your ocean story?
We both grew up with a certain love and appreciation for the beach and its wonders:
NAJD: A particular moment that cemented my love for the beach and marine life was during one of our summers in South Carolina when we found a stranded baby sea turtle stuck in the dune grass. That night under the moonlight we safely stood behind and watched as it made its way to the water. We learned that South Carolina does a great job of making sure that residents’ outdoor lights must be colored red or facing down and away from the water so as to not confuse the sea turtles that are trying to follow the moonlight. Memories like that are always so special and fulfilling and make me excited for my future in marine science.
RANKL: My memorable story is from when I was younger going to the local beach state park in Florida, called Stump Pass, with my mom. We would go around and pick up garbage and enjoy the beautiful views. In Florida, taking care of the beach was always taught from a young age in elementary school. My parents always taught me to care for the ecosystems. I hope to bring that same importance to New Jersey beaches too!