Susan Rockefeller is a big fan of mermaids.
A source of inspiration, Rockefeller says that mermaids are a metaphor for balancing one’s time on land and overall caring about the environment. Much of what we consider healthy, she says, is based on what is around us.
Rockefeller is this year’s “Mermaid Extraordinaire” at The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center’s annual SoFo “Rocks” fundraisers thanks to her efforts to preserve the world’s oceans and encourage sustainable agriculture.
“If you take time for ourselves, we can give back to ourselves,” Rockefeller said. “We need to give the ocean time to rest. It is a powerful metaphor for healing. If we don’t have time to keep ourselves healthy, won’t have time to do what we want to do.”
Her goal is educate and inspire as many people to give time to a cause and think more about the environment when making day-to-day decisions.
“My hope is that people take a walk onto the beach and take a look at the sea shells… or sunrise and sunset,” she said. “We have to protect those places that are precious to us.”
Rockefeller attributes her love for the environment started when she used to spend summers in East Hampton and Maine. She holds degrees in ecological horticulture and environmental studies. When she was 22, she ventured to Alaska to live with an Inuit tribe and teach community gardening.
“It is a way of life that was very different going down 7-11 to get food,” she said.
Since then, she has also co-produced films and designed jewelry- all based on restoring the world’s oceans. She also enjoys swimming and paddle boarding.
Some of her environmentalism stems from her father, a conservationist and her mother, who enjoyed collecting Native American artifacts.
Her love for oceans and the environment earned her a place on the board of Oceana, a non-profit group focused on promoting biodiversity in marine life and food security. According to Rockefeller, if humans manage oceans properly, there is enough to feed nine billion people. More than a billion people rely on fish protein.
“It’s all interconnected,” she said.
When asked if there was ever a time when she was not making a decision based on the environment, Rockefeller took a brief pause.
“How about when I’m sleeping?” she joked.
For more information on SoFo Rocks, where Rockefeller is being honored, visit www.sofo.org.