Rick Hayden

My name is Rick Hayden, I’m 28 years old and have dedicated my life to my passions of conservation and animal welfare. I graduated from George Mason University in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology. Although I have always been an animal lover and environmentalist at heart, I never intended to follow a path leading towards marine conservation.  This avenue began revealing itself during a summer trip I took while in college, volunteering at a zoo in Thailand; a profound experience that yearned for more work involving animal rights and conservation. As a result, I spent the year of 2016 living and working in Thailand at the zoo as a volunteer manager and team lead, embracing my passion to make a difference on the livelihood of the vulnerable.  While in Southeast Asia, I began developing a deeper, intimate relationship with the ocean as well; participating in sea turtle conservation and learning to scuba dive while in Malaysia.  Instantly hooked, I continued to dive and search for a way to make my difference on both land and sea.  This has led me to my current role at Coral Restoration Foundation™, the world’s largest, non-profit marine conservation organization dedicated to restoring coral reefs to a healthy state, both in the state of Florida, as well as globally.

How I’m being the difference?

How i´m being different?

Currently, I work on the front lines of marine conservation, actively laboring to restore the, now, lifeless coral reefs surrounding the Florida Keys. Once a majestic paradise for diving, the Florida Keys have endured decades of abuse from industrialization and pollution, resulting in approximately 97% of reef-building corals dying in surrounding waters. My work at Coral Restoration Foundation™ aims to reverse this damage and return the reef to its original, beautiful state. Each day I work to grow, maintain, and restore our nursery corals and our recovering reefs through an implementation of restoration, monitoring, and research techniques.
Additionally, I’ve learned about the nature of non-profits as a whole, growing my foundational ability to make a difference in both conservation as well as the community and society at-large. Not only has it increased my knowledge and skills in the fields of restoration and science, but it’s boosted my experience in educating the public, outreach events, and mentoring students to follow their own career in marine sciences and conservation. My current position only multiplies my desire to cultivate a path to protect the vulnerable, weak, or those unable to speak (corals!). I hope in the future to expand that influence to a greater level to create effective change that our planet desperately begs for. I think this opportunity with Utila Dive Center would not only expand my experience and skills, but allow me to flourish to a heightened level as a vanguard of conservation.

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