Middle School Volunteers Clean Cove Island Beach

Jan. 2012 – Trash Rules the Day for Middle School Students

A group of middle school students, when given the opportunity to select a community service project, decided that picking up trash along the habitats at Cove Island Park was exactly what they wanted to do.

“I was shocked” said Stacey Olsen, a science teacher and homeroom advisor at Scofield Middle School, where each homeroom group is expected to choose a project with a non-profit organization. “I questioned their desire for pollution, and 19 out of 20 said yes.”

Their choice resulted from their Coastal Science Investigation  program at the SoundWaters Coastal Education Center earlier in the fall. “We had been here before to learn about and help feed the terrapins and saw how pollution affects the animals,” Olsen said. “It created an awareness, and they wanted to save the turtles.”
In mid-December the students returned to SoundWaters and combed the nearby habitats—the beach, rocky shore, salt marsh and inland areas of the park. They collected, recorded and at the end of the day tallied and compared each item of trash they picked up, which included 36 beer bottle caps from inland.

“We’re finding mostly plastic and Styrofoam,” said Josh Cam, one of the 7th graders. “It’s hurting the diamondback terrapin, and putting chemicals into the salt marsh.”

At the salt marsh, a few students entered the coordinates into  hand-held GPS tracking devices, while others marked the location on satellite maps of the park. Later, they created GIS maps and plotted the amount of trash that was picked up at each spot.

“Trash is the biggest problem in the world,” said student Rachel Lese. “We decided to do our project at SoundWaters because most of us love the ocean and want to save the ocean, so we came here to Cove Park. It’s the place we like to go when we have free time.”