JustGroups Service Day with Belen Jesuit Preparatory School
November 10, 2023
On Friday, November 10th, The International SeaKeepers Society hosted 20 high school students from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami for a service day coastal cleanup at Morningside Park. This cleanup was the third part of these students' "Just Groups" educational service experience, where SeaKeepers Community Engagement Associate, Lillian Engelhard, talked to students about the benefits of not only removing marine debris from the local environment but also tracking the final locations and types of debris as citizen scientist using the Marine Debris Tracker app to create data that can be used by scientists to support the creation of sustainable policies. After students downloaded and logged into Marine Debris Tracker, they spent 2 hours walking Morningside Park to remove marine and coastal debris while logging it in the app. In the end, students collected 55.7 lbs of trash, including odd items like gas cans, shoes, buckets, and even a message in a bottle. To conclude our service day, we discussed with our participants the different types of debris that they found. From items they didn't expect to find in a coastal park to things they might use and throw away in their own lives, we talked about the opportunities we have to reduce waste, especially single-use plastic waste, every day. We had a great time with the students of Belen and we hope to see them at more of our coastal cleanups in the future!
The goal of this service day was to illustrate to our Belen Just Groups series students the reality of pollution in urban environments, and how much damage that can provide to the local watershed. Since the majority of our participants used the Marine Debris Tracker app to log their findings, we contributed data to scientists and policymakers looking to support plastic legislation in the long term. We thank these students for concluding their Just Groups service series with us and for helping us collect this vital data!