My name is Lara O'Brien and I am a master's student at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability. I am currently researching the environmental impact of balloon releases in the Great Lakes, Here's a link to a recent article:
In order to collect more data on balloon debris sightings, I have created a Survey123 form that can be used to record the date, time, location, and photo of the debris sighting. This data can
I am originally from Kansas City and have always been interested in the environment and how people view and interact with the natural world. I received a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Geography from the University of Missouri. I also have an M.A. degree in Geography from the University of Kansas. Using qualitative research and in-depth interviews, I focused on the effects of climate change and sea level rise on low-lying island nations in the Pacific and how indigenous communities are adapting to current and future environmental changes. When I traveled to some of these small, remote islands, I was able to talk with members of the local villages and see the direct impacts of climate change. I was also astonished at the amount of plastic littering the beaches and the lagoons and saw that plastic pollution was another huge environmental challenge for the islands.
After I graduated, I became increasingly involved in wildlife conservation and volunteered at a wildlife rehab in Kansas. There I learned more about native birds and wildlife and how they are also impacted by climate change and increasing pollution. I decided to enroll at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) to continue my studies and learn more about the science and data behind climate change and conservation as well as the latest developments in GIS and remote sensing technologies. My hope is to combine qualitative, quantitative, and geospatial methods to help raise awareness about climate change and plastic pollution and help communities protect and conserve their environment.
For years, I have been horrified when groups gather and release balloons. I hope by engaging and participating in this citizen science research, more people will become aware of the impact balloons and balloon releases have on the environment and wildlife. Hopefully, it will lead to changes in behavior and changes in policy.
Meeting this woman gives me great hope for our planet. Please support her efforts to eliminate balloons from the skies above the Great Lakes by providing her information on balloon litter sightings at https://arcg.is/1OfbKT. And PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!