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Diving with Purpose

Cleanup Work Begins Underwater for One Local Diver

Article by Cheryl Parton

Photography by Cheryl Parton

Originally published in Bend Lifestyle

When it comes to seeing the world as a playground, videographer, storyteller, and media personality Jared Leisek’s field of vision is larger than most. As a self-professed “scuba-diving treasure hunter with a purpose,” his exploration starts below the water’s surface and with 70% of the earth covered by water, it’s no wonder he sees vast potential. For Leisek, diving led him to create his project Adventures with Purpose.

Leisek has removed 7,000 pounds of trash, treasure and items left behind as lost during his all-season dives in the rivers and lakes of Central Oregon for the Adventures with Purpose YouTube channel called Mr. Leisek. A certified scuba diver since 2006, Leisek turned his passion for underwater explorations into not only entertainment but a public service and personal effort to clean up a local ecosystem.

“A lot of divers have a purpose to look at pretty stuff, like sea life, but our purpose is different,” he says.

Originally from Nevada, Leisek moved to Central Oregon in his teens where he met his now wife of 22 years, Kristin. With Kristin or his daughter Kierra, 21, filming, Leisek dives multiple times per week regardless of the weather. Keeping it local, Leisek was scuba certified in Central Oregon. Unlike warm-water destination divers though, he has always been a dry suit diver. On an especially cold day, passersby may ask how he keeps warm and the reply is, to layer up under the dry suit just as he might to ski, then “keep diving.” “This is my backyard,” he says of colder Pacific Northwest locations and this is where he chooses to explore.

His local dives typically begin at the shore of the Deschutes River, or a nearby lake, with preparation of tanks and regulators taking place alongside filmed narration, usually accompanied by a bit of humor. With a background in marketing, branding and content creation, Leisek is mindful of key aspects of storytelling including his character, location, plot, conflict and conclusion. Each episode of his shows aims to provide a story arc and sometimes dramatic results. Traveling with neutral buoyancy just above the river bottom, Leisek may have only several inches of visibility but that hasn’t prevented him from making discoveries, from sentimental to valuable. In addition to hundreds of pounds of bottles and cans, he has reclaimed a lantern from the 1800s, 368 pairs of glasses, 53 cell phones, several laptops and wallets (returned to their grateful owners). One particular find Leisek was happy to return to a bereaved family: a sealed urn with intact ashes of their father accidentally dropped at the river’s edge six years before its discovery.

“I don't know what my legacy will be, but I hope to leave the world a better place while enjoying the adventures along the way,” Leisek says. “And I don’t know what my purpose is on earth, but diving really inspires me. Life is amazing.”