Students Work Together to Clean Up Their Local EnvironmentJuly 9, 2012
Earlier this year, Lindsay Clark – a member of the Rainforest Alliance’s education team—had an opportunity to travel to Jacksonville, Florida to join the 4th grade class from Susie E. Tolbert Elementary for a river clean up with St. Johns Riverkeeper. She writes…
Along the marshy edge of the St. Johns River, fiddler crabs scurry across the sand and tall grass. Excited shouts and peals of laughter fill the air as the class dodges small crustaceans and cleans up litter along this beautiful riverbank.
Flowing through the middle of Jacksonville, Florida is the lovely St. Johns River – the largest river in the state and one of the few US rivers that flows north! One of my favorite parts of working with the Rainforest Alliance’s education program is being able to provide our partner schools with unique opportunities that expose their students to new and eye-opening experiences.
On this beautiful, hot Florida day, I joined Ms. Harter’s class at Blue Cypress Park to help them clean up their own local environment. Armed with gloves and garbage bags, students took conservation action into their own hands and began walking along the marshy river edge to clean up litter and debris left behind by previous visitors. Their enthusiasm was contagious as they compared their finds, competed to locate the most unusual objects and talked about how this garbage ended up on the riverbank. They were all bothered that people would carelessly leave garbage in and around the river, hurting the plant and animal populations that depend on it. It was an extra-special trip for some students in the group, who had never before been to the St. John’s River.
After scouring the riverbank for trash, the students gathered around Greg Nagel – education program director at St. John’s Riverkeeper – to discuss what they found and speculate about how these items ended up on the riverbank and in the surrounding park. They also talked about the different ways that they can help to protect the St. Johns River, keeping it beautiful and clean.
Following a long morning of cleaning up the park, the students rested under the shade of nearby trees to eat their lunches and talk about the day’s adventures. Then they piled into their yellow school buses, ready to head back to the classroom where they would conduct a follow-up lab and learn about the leachates that can flow from trash into rivers and soil. The follow-up lab will help the students to better understand the damage that litter can do to surrounding ecosystems.
It was such an exciting day, and I was so happy to have had the opportunity to help these students clean-up their community. It was a treat to see childrens’ faces light up as they explored the riverbank, got up close and personal with the little fiddler crabs, and took action to make their community healthier and more beautiful for the people and animals depending on it.
Watch a new video to learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s work with 16 partner schools in Duvall County, Florida.