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When Rhode Islanders visit the coastal areas of South County and discover an oil sheen on the water, a fish kill, a barrier to public access to the shoreline, a large concentration of plastic debris, or any number of other concerns, one of the first people they should turn to is Dave Prescott. The CoastKeeper for Save the Bay, Prescott is the eyes and ears of the Ocean State’s south coast and Little Narragansett Bay, a watchdog for water quality, and a voice for those seeking to draw attention to environmental issues in the region.

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The histories of the United States Navy and Southern New England are ones that are often intertwined, especially when it comes to submarines. Along with Quonset Point in North Kingstown, the site of an Electric Boat campus where portions of the Columbia-class and Virginia-class submarines are being built, a lot of the research and development that goes into these powerful vessels is done in Newport at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC).

Founded in 1869 as the US Naval Torpedo Center, NUWC has evolved over the years to keep the Navy to develop, test, engineer and support the Navy’s submarines, considered by many to be the backbone of the Navy.

Among those putting in the work to ensure the success and capability of these vessels are a plethora of South County residents. South County Life spoke with five such employees about the work they do for the Navy, their career journey that took them to NUWC and the STEM education they received that got them to where they are today.

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In each of us, goes an old adage, is a book. The stories of our lives can offer interpretations and understandings of the world, a piece of advice, or simply just catharsis.

As authors, we weave our understandings and experiences into narratives. They show up in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and imagery, to name a few places. Packaging them as hardcover or softcover books, online ebooks, audiobooks or even CDs and DVDs can bring those narratives to life.

“It is a labor of love,” said Michael Grossman, owner of Ebook Bakery in South Kingstown and advisor to many self-publishing authors. “I’m in publishing because I love words. We do it because we love it. Publishing these works brings people into our lives. It’s exciting.”

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Jayne Merner Senecal says there is a stigma surrounding farming and working with one’s hands, a belief that labor-intensive careers shouldn’t be revered as much as white-collar jobs. Senecal takes issue with that belief, and as the owner of Earth Care Farm in Charlestown, works to convince others of the value of farm work.

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Helena Silva traces her interest in fashion design to her days of making dresses for her Barbie dolls as a child.

“My mother was a seamstress, and even she was astonished at how I was able to sew such little sleeves,” said Silva, the founder of Bent and Bree, a fashion accessory company whose purses, backpacks and other products are made primarily of cork. “Later I designed my own clothes and my mother would make them for me. And people loved them!”

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In  a laboratory lined with dozens of 20-gallon fish tanks at the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus, eco-physiologist Coleen Suckling is raising Atlantic purple sea urchins to determine whether the Ocean State might benefit from establishing hatcheries or aquaculture facilities for growing the spiny marine creatures.

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News reporters and film crews have called on Holly Dunsworth more times than she can count in recent years. She has been invited to share her insights about painful childbirth on the Netflix program “Sex, Explained,” discussed why babies cry on National Public Radio, commented about why chimps can’t throw well for the Washington Post, and addressed numerous other topics for prominent news outlets around the world.

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During each annual Rhode Island BioBlitz, David Gregg stands under a tent designated “Science Central” and sounds an air horn to start off as many as 200 volunteer biologists, naturalists and other nature enthusiasts counting as many species of wildlife as possible in 24 hours on one parcel of land.

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