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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Beach under Destin East Pass Bridge, Destin, Florida, USA

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Beach under Destin East Pass Bridge, Destin, Florida, USA
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Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: Crestview
Posts: 1
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Part of life is to do something that you actually enjoy doing. For me, that something is working towards a better environment. This year, I have had the extraordinary opportunity, thanks to my high school, to organize my own beach cleanups. My school requires students to complete a project that can be on anything so long as it has a service-to-others aspect. I quickly decided on organizing beach cleanups because I have always wanted to help make the environment cleaner, and I happen to live in close proximity to a variety of beaches.

After deciding on my project, I contacted my local environmental council and received permission, working closely with an expert in the beach cleanup field, and I invited friends and family to join me in my quest to clean the local beaches. I have been able to host five beach cleanups throughout 2013, starting this past June. I also joined in with the International Coastal Cleanup days and a friend’s beach cleanups. In total, twenty-four people, including myself, my family, and my friends and their families, helped clean up this beach throughout 2013, though the friends and family that volunteered all came on varying cleanup days, not every time. My group, which normally had anywhere from seven to thirteen friends and family members, was able to clean the same beach every time.

The cleanups lasted an average of three hours each for the volunteers, taking place normally from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM, with some days ending sooner and other days lasting longer. My family and I arrived about an hour early each time to set up a small snack area for the people coming at 8:00. The beach we clean does not have an exact name, but we call it “the beach under the Destin East Pass Bridge” across the water from the Emerald Grande Hotel. It is owned and monitored by Eglin Air Force base, and it is a free-access beach and is open to the public. There is another beach right before this one, also monitored by Eglin, but the beach we cleaned was literally right off the East Pass Bridge.

I decided on this particular beach because tourists and local beach-goers often visit and leave behind their trash, and this area is not as monitored as the state park beaches. Because of this, this beach was constantly dirtied, and each time we filled at least six thirty-gallon garbage bags. No matter how hard we cleaned, the next visit was often the same, if only a little cleaner. However, I did not let this fact deter me. I know that constant visitor traffic to this beach, especially in Destin, Florida, a huge tourist city in my area, means that more trash will be left behind. Now that the winter months are here, the beach is staying cleaner, but I know come spring this beach will once again have both constant visitor and garbage flow. The spring months leading up to my graduation in May are when I plan to continue my quest to keep the local beaches clean.

The Okaloosa Environmental Council helped make my cleanups possible. They donated t-shirts, water bottles, gloves, and garbage bags in order for me to organize a group of friends and family to clean up the local beaches. After receiving these items, I planned dates and stayed in contact with the manager of the environmental council to be sure that I was doing things legally and effectively. I contacted everyone involved, and once we were on the beach, I organized my large group into smaller groups and sent them to clean varying parts of the beach, including the parking lot, which was actually near a fenced off “Endangered Animals” enclosure. I saw trash inside the enclosure, but my group was not allowed to clean it up, since people could disturb the endangered wildlife. I would have thought that people would be more careful with their trash if they saw those signs, but I truly found this beach to be one of the dirtiest, mainly because of the fact that it seems to be a “party beach,” where it was not closely monitored and on the edge of a huge tourist and beach city in my local area.

Cleaning the beach has been a rather surprising experience so far. I was shocked that we filled so many garbage bags, always at least six and sometimes as many as twelve, and that it took the entire allotted time, normally three hours, to clean up the beach. I actually was expecting everyone to maybe fill just a few bags, but never even imagined how much litter was on the beach. There were large, heavy items like broken buckets or pieces of beach chairs in some areas, and smaller items like cigarette butts that added up overtime. Some items did not even make sense to be on a beach. We found socks, pocket knives, underwear, tampons, a basketball net, and dirty diapers. I often found myself wondering why people would leave these items on a beach where little kids often ran barefooted and where some of Florida’s endangered wildlife were only a few feet away. Cleaning up the beach has impacted the local area through providing a more sanitary beach for both humans and animals alike, but it is something that will always need to be done until the littering issue can be resolved.

My project helped my friends and family see just one of the many problems affecting the world we live in today. At least once on every cleanup day I organized, someone came up to my group and thanked us for cleaning up the beach. It was heartwarming to see that people noticed, and I hope that people will remember that litter does not just disappear. The environment is suffering, and litter pollution is a major cause. I hope to leave a lasting impact on my local community, and my goal is to motivate others to keep the environment clean. I want to spread the word because the environment is something that I am truly passionate about. People have one Earth, but for some reason it does not seem to take priority. Environmental awareness is the key to solving many of the world’s current and future problems, and I believe that if it is embraced, then we can have a better and cleaner environment for animals and humans alike.
Date: December 30, 2013 Views: 7911 File size: 13.5kb, 2259.1kb : 3888 x 2592
Hours Volunteered: 130
Volunteers: 24
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 5 to 50
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