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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Marblehead Beaches, Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA

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Marblehead Beaches, Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA
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Registered: December 2011
City/Town/Province: Marblehead
Posts: 1
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For my senior project this past spring at my high school, I worked in collaboration with my best friend Molly on an environmental project in my hometown, Marblehead, Massachusetts. We are both majoring in Environmental Studies in college, and we both felt that this project would be the perfect opportunity to dip our feet into the environmental field. Our project was community service based, and we hoped that our experience would help us in future careers. We worked with Christopher Swain, a respected environmentalist and Marblehead resident, as our supervisor. We also worked with the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce and Retail Committee to make sure our Senior Project had a beneficial impact in our local community.
Our senior project had three central goals. The first was to identify the culprits of common litter found on our local beaches. In order to do this, we planned to pick up trash on beaches and keep track of the different types of trash we found. We wanted to pinpoint any trash originating from local businesses, and we wanted to explore ways to put an end to this beach trash. Our second goal was to work with local government to initiate legislation to prohibit the distribution of plastic bags, a major trash offender, by local businesses. Although we knew this process could take well over a year to be fully completed and implemented, we hoped to make our goal a reality and provide steps toward banning plastic bags in Marblehead. Our last goal was to organize a town-wide beach cleanup event in Marblehead. We planned to team up with residents, students and businesses in Marblehead to clean up our local beaches.
During our Senior Project, we expected to learn many new and useful things about the environmental field, as well as learn how local legislation works in Marblehead. We were extremely excited to have the opportunity to get to know and learn from some of the most influential leaders in Marblehead. They are the people who make a difference in Marblehead every day. We also hoped to learn from our supervisor Christopher Swain, as he shared with us his knowledge and experiences during our internship.
Christopher Swain really let Molly and I take the reigns of our Senior Project, and encouraged us to work independently. Christopher had planned and carried out a similar beach cleanup in the fall, so he knew exactly what we needed to do in order to be successful. Despite this, he told us that he would be there for us if we needed anything, but that we were the “heart of the project”, and it was up to us to plan everything. Christopher strongly believed that if he did not let us succeed and fail on our own, we would learn nothing. Molly and I were responsible for deciding which beaches we were going to clean up, plan the town-wide beach cleanup, advertise the beach cleanup, find local businesses that would support us, create press releases for our event, attend chamber of commerce and retail committee meetings, and research ways to go about reducing the use of plastic in Marblehead. Molly and I also decided we wanted to design and sell stainless steel, eco-friendly water bottles.
I feel that our Senior Project was a tremendous success. After endless hours of planning and organizing, Molly and I were able to carry out Marblehead’s “One Healthy Ocean Family Beach Cleanup”. We collaborated with Marblehead Chamber of Commerce and National Grand Bank, and were supported by over twenty local businesses. Our beach cleanup took place on Saturday, May 7th from 8-10 A.M. We were able to collect nearly 500 pounds of trash from Devereux Beach, Fort Beach, Gashouse Beach, Grace Oliver’s Beach, Little Harbor Beach, Preston-Phillips Beach, and Riverhead Beach. About fifty people showed up at the various beaches to help keep our local beaches clean. We were interviewed by the Salem News, the Marblehead Reporter, and are going to be featured in the June edition of Marblehead Magazine for our efforts. Before and after the beach cleanup, we periodically visited the beaches in attempt to keep them clean. We have also succeeded in selling stainless steel, eco-friendly water bottles which we designed. The stainless steel water bottles include the logo “Take me to the beach” to help promote the use of reusable water bottles on local beaches. The use of reusable water bottles beaches have the power to drastically decrease the amount of plastic bottles and cups left behind on the beaches. We plan to continue selling these water bottles until they are all sold.
I learned many things about project management and the environmental field during my Senior Project. In order for an event to run smoothly, I discovered that it takes extreme organization and leadership. Molly and I worked together to find practical solutions to any challenges we were faced with. For example, when we were trying to figure out how to get the supplies needed to carry out a safe beach cleanup, we decided to ask for donations of supplies. We took the initiative and asked CVS if they would be willing to donate supplies to us. They supported our cause by donating trash bags and gloves. I also learned that if there is something you are passionate about, especially the state of the environment, and you are able to convey how deeply you are invested in your cause, people will want to support you and help you succeed. When Molly and I approached the Retail Committee with our ideas for our Senior Project, they were thoroughly impressed by our strong leadership and initiatives. They saw we were committed to making a difference in Marblehead, and were immediately won over. More than twenty local businesses offered to contribute to a coupon which was distributed to all participants of the beach cleanup. Christopher Swain, our supervisor, taught us what it takes to be successful in the environmental field. He stressed the importance of us being persistent and dedicated to our cause. Christopher is sponsored by Tox Tour, and swims in polluted waters all over the country. He also leads what is called the “Healthy World Workshop” in local schools. I have learned countless valuable things about the environment, as well as valuable life lessons. He has truly motivated me to follow my passions and has confirmed my desire to pursue a career in the environmental field.
One difficulty we encountered concerned our goal to work with local government to ban plastic bags in Marblehead. After extensive research, we realized just how intricate and delicate the subject of plastic use was. We discovered that not everyone was going to agree with the particular ideas we had, and that we would most definitely see opposition. To solve this problem, Molly and I decided to put our research to another use. We are currently in the process of finishing a letter to the Board of Selectmen. The letter includes our findings from our research, and provides options for the different paths Marblehead can take to reduce, and maybe even eventually eliminate, the use of plastic.
The environmental field has many risks and is full of chance. We were well aware that there was the possibility of us walking into our first Chamber of Commerce meeting and being completely shut down for our ideas. Not everyone cares about the state of the environment; many think there are more important things to worry about. Also, the success of our beach cleanup was completely dependent upon people who desired to keep our local beaches clean. We took this chance because we both believe that there are people in Marblehead who want to make a difference as much as we do. If fifty people hadn’t shown up, we would have never been able to collect nearly 500 pounds of trash from our beaches in a short two hours.
Molly and I used our problem-solving skills and keenness of mind to begin the legislation needed to reduce the use of plastic in Marblehead. Our creativity and leadership helped us inspire the local government to push for the change we are seeking. We were able to solve real-life problems and make a change on a local level through our beach cleanup. Hopefully, I will continue to be the change I wish to see in the world, in college and beyond.
· Date: December 30, 2011 · Views: 2258 · File size: 15.1kb, 958.0kb · : 2048 x 3072 ·
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 50
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 6 to 70
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 500
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